Having recently moved from near-enough Central London to the leafy suburbs of Surrey, I’ve gained myself an extra hour (each way!) of commuting on a delightfully unreliable Southern rail service. I’ve been using this time to experiment with the best ways to utilise my journey. Commuting seems to be a necessary evil these days, but I’m hoping to make it a valuable part of my day instead of staring gormlessly out of the window watching Norwood Junction rattle past me. Whether you travel by car, public transport, bicycle or on foot, here are a few ways you can reclaim your commute.
Add some exercise
If you’re in the fortunate position in which you can walk, run or cycle to work, make the most of it! It’s recommended that we do around 30 minutes of exercise, five days a week, and during the work day it can be difficult to fit that in to our routine. If you do use public transport, consider hopping off the bus a few stop early, or walking to the station. At the risk of looking totally ridiculous, you can incorporate exercise whilst waiting for/standing on the bus or train; such as calf raises or the “commuter crunch” (see here). I have hesitantly tried this and I’d only recommend it if you’re not packed in like sardines, and you don’t mind looking more than a bit bonkers.
Reflect or Meditate
I’m aware that the more spiritual stuff might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and I must admit I was pretty resistant myself at first – however, there are a few easy techniques that can be adopted in to your daily commute to help you arrive at your destination feeling calm and refreshed. There’s a great article by the Huffington Post, outlining the small changes you can make to stop you losing your goddam mind on the way to and from work. I came across this little gem on Amazon a while back and think it’s a great way to distract your mind from that chaos going on around you – Calm: Change the Mind, Change the World by Michael Acton Smith.
There’s been a recent boom in the number of self-improvement apps including language learning and brain-training. I recently downloaded the Memrise app, a tool for learning a foreign language which used “elaborate encoding” to help you remember things more easily. It’s a very cute little app, with a sleek user interface and regular reminders so you don’t forget to do your daily learning. Lumosity has already gained a pretty wide presence in the market, and is a great tool for improving cognitive abilities. If you’re a stickler for a more analog way of doing things, consider doing a Sudoku or crossword. You can think outside the box and use the time to teach yourself something new, I’ve even seen people learning to knit on the tube…
If you’re spending a considerable amount of your day looking at a screen, you can use the commuting down-time to rest your eyes and just listen. Music has been proven to have positive effects on physical and mental health, and podcasts can be a great opportunity to catch up on current events, learn something new or just zone out. The much talked about Serial seems to be a solid favourite amongst the office here, so give it a try! As a child I was a sucker for a good audio book, and have recently rediscovered the Harry Potter books, expertly narrated by Stephen Fry. Most popular books have an audio version these days, so if you’re not a fan of reading, why not download a best-seller you can listen to instead?
DISCLAIMER: Obviously keep your eyes open if you’re driving or biking, duh.
So now you’re armed with some inspiration for making your commute a tiny bit more bearable, give these a try and please feel free to comment if there are any suggestions. Keep an eye out for our next post – “Reclaim your Lunch”.
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