by Liberty Stembridge, Lifestyle Columnist
Published in Lifestyle on 11th March, 2019
Depending on how you tackle it, your commute can either be a blessing or a curse. For many people, their commute to and from work is an hour of being stuck in traffic or hustled about on a train platform, either too cold or too hot, and generally bemoaning the state of their life.
Reading is hands-down one of the best ways you can improve your commute. Not only is it much better for you mentally than staring at a screen, but you can actually train your brain to become a better reader, more analytical and hopefully learn something too.
If you drive rather than catch public transport, then it's the perfect time for you to download a few audiobooks. Many successful proponents of reading on your commute suggest that you read books designed to help you improve your life or increase your workplace productivity, and I for one agree. There's no better time to get motivated and inspired than on your way to earn some money.
You might look a little weird sitting on the bus or train with your eyes closed and breathing deeply, but in all honesty - who cares? Meditation is an incredibly beneficial practice and a well-known way to reduce the stress of a commute and prepare yourself for a day of work. It allows you to take a moment, check in with yourself and calm down.
Even if you don't initially feel stressed out, chances are you're carrying some stress around and a quick meditation session on the way to work can help you to reset and start the work day right. If you drive to work, take a minute or two to breathe deeply and check in before you start your drive and when you get to work - it'll make all the difference.
Many of us are stuck in commutes that don't make us happy - in fact they do the opposite. They stress us out and we end up angry and annoyed, which is not the way to start the day. Rather than allow your commute to get you down, find a way to make it more enjoyable. In other words: treat yo'self.
This could mean buying yourself a nice coffee, taking the more scenic route - whatever would make your commute that much more enjoyable. Sure, you may get some flak from personal finance geeks who say you shouldn't be spending money on coffee in the morning, but life isn't all about saving every penny - make sure you're enjoying the present too.
If you already get up at 6.30 and can't imagine waking up a second earlier, hear me out. A large part of the reason the typical commute is so mind-numbingly frustrating for some people is because of how rushed, and therefore stressful, it can be.
By leaving earlier, you either eliminate this rush, or avoid the hustle and bustle altogether. Plus, there are numerous documented benefits to waking up early - not only will you have more time to put together a beneficial morning routine, but you're also more likely to be productive and wake up happier (once you get past the initial shock and adjust).
Exercise is the ultimate mood booster and the perfect way to get your day off to a good start. If you, like many, find yourself exhausted mentally and physically at the end of a day at work and just can't bring yourself to get up and work out, or simply can't find the time - fitting in a bit of exercise during your morning commute could be just the solution.
There are lots of ways to do it - for those with showers at their workplace, running or biking to work (at least part of the way( is an excellent way to do it. If you don't, see if there's a gym nearby your workplace and sign up, then leave a bit more time in the morning to stop off and get a quick workout in.
Ideally, you shouldn't be working on your commute, but for the work-a-holics among us, the opportunity to answer a few emails simply cannot be missed. If you're going to work during your commute, make sure it's a small simple task that can easily be accomplished from your phone - emails are the perfect example. You could also make calls, track invoices, etc etc.
The reason many people try to refrain from working during their commute is because not only does it mean you're multi-tasking (not a good idea) but it also starts to blur the lines between work-life and home-life. Your commute if your commute, so if you want to work, go ahead, but ideally, it should be a time to be productive in a non-work related context.
Visualisation is a powerful tool for building the life you want, and it's pretty easy to fit into your morning commute.
If you haven't heard of the concept before, it might sound a bit far-fetched at first, but there's some good science to back it up. All it involves is taking a few minutes to deeply visualise the future you want, down to the smallest detail. The most important element however, is not visualising all the intricate buttons on say, the new car you want, but rather visualising how you will feel sitting in that car.
There are some excellent resources online, including apps like Calm and Headspace that can help guide you through a visualisation session, since it can seem very weird and unfamiliar in the beginning.
You don't have to visualise way into the future either, you can start off small by visualising the kind of day you want to have today. Who do you want to talk to, what do you want to get done, and how will it feel when you've done it?
Skipping breakfast is one of the most common unhealthy habits, but no more. Rather than dealing with the hunger pangs by going without, or sticking a granola bar in your pocket as you run out of the door, invest in a healthy breakfast and eat it during your commute. It could be overnight oats, fruit, a breakfast burrito - whatever you fancy, just make sure it's healthy and filling.