Every morning, millions of people commute. Here are the signs of typical commuters: they're sweaty, they regularly release moans of impatience, and they look like they'd rather be anywhere other than in transit. It doesn't take fancy math to observe that commuting can take years off your life. Whatever mode of transportation you take to work or school – bus, train, car, pirate ship, hot air balloon, or feet – it's always rare to see a jovial commuter. However, commuting doesn't have to be that gut-wrenching part of the uphill rollercoaster. With these commuter tips, you can find Zen and maximize your mental and physical preparedness for the long day ahead.
1. Make A List
To the busy commuter, any extra to-do might seem moan-worthy. That's why it's important to work smarter, not harder. Don't be the commuter who is halfway to work and realizes all the notes for the big presentation are still sitting on the kitchen table. The night before, make a list of everything you need and check each item off before you leave. The very act of writing will help you remember!
2. Make Sure You're Well Fed
Hangryness is an enormous contributor to stress and unnecessary frustration. Bring healthy, protein-packed snacks such as nuts and fruits. These are just as important as those notes for the presentation! Make sure you also have plenty of water to stay hydrated. You never know when unexpected traffic will prolong your next snack, so come prepared!
Let's be honest. Exercise is not something we all make time for in the morning, especially after we sleep through our alarm clock and are rushing out the door! But there are some simple ways to make sure we don't go stiff. Try a few shoulder and neck rolls, and give yourself a back massage! It's easy to do while walking, sitting on the train, or at a red light. Don't worry about looking weird, your fellow commuters will understand and probably copy you.
Breathing is both a voluntary and involuntary function, so controlling your breath is a surefire way to relieve stress. Inhale through your nose for 5 seconds, hold for 3, and exhale for 7. Do this a few times, or until you start feeling your heart rate come to a resting level.
5. Snap the Rumination Rubber Band
Commuting is often a time where people ruminate about the day's tasks ahead. Wear a rubber band around your wrist and snap it every time you find yourself ruminating. This will help correct your cognitive errors and maladaptive thoughts, and make you more aware of maintaining positive energy.
6. Listen To Music
Studies show that listening to music the same tempo as your resting heart rate (around 60 BPM) helps to relax you. Try out some classical music, especially Mozart, Haydn and Bach.
For those of you who want to up the ante on Tip #6, this one should probably be limited to solo-driving commuters. Driving can get monotonous, especially to those with long, highway routes. Singing is a great way to release endorphins and keep yourself company! (Plus, it's fun!)
8. Talk To People
If you're taking mass transportation, take the opportunity to talk to the interesting people around you. More often then not, people enjoy being talked to, and if you have to be sitting arm to arm on the 8AM Peak train, you might as well get to know your train-mate. Also, many people share the same commute every day and it's always good to make friends (and car pool buddies)!
9. Don't Look At Your Phone
If you can help it, make commuting time a time to reflect. Limit your screen-time to only when it's absolutely necessary. It's easy to get sucked into the virtual world, but our eyes (and our souls) need a break. Commuting is the perfect chance to unplug and take in your natural surroundings.
10. Read A Book (That Is, If You're Not Driving or Walking)
Few of us take time out of the day to get away from our own stressful lives. Books can be a simple solution! They allow us the opportunity to enter into another world, to learn, to embody another brain. Reading also leads to increased empathy and social intelligence. If you designate commuting time to reading, then you'll be regularly contributing to your mental and emotional growth!
Another tip for unloading frustration is to keep a journal. It's great to write down thoughts, feelings, dreams, recipes, stories, anything! (You don't even have to use proper grammar.) We often get wrapped up in the real world to the point where we put our creativity to the side. Commuting doesn't have to be a mindless routine, but it can give us the chance to use our imaginations. If you're driving or walking, you can speak your thoughts and record them for later!
We hope these suggestions will help you turn your commute from life-shortening to life-enhancing. There's more to life than points A and B – the journey is just as important as the destination.