Ok so you may not have a commute anymore if you’re work from home, lucky you! However, morning routines are still pretty damn important. I’m pretty sure everyone is keen to start their day on a positive note and sadly we can’t all wake up to the sound of tropical birdsong on a balcony overlooking an Indonesian forest with a Bali bowl and iced coffee ~ take yourself there for just a moment!
Fuelling your car in London is like handing over cash to sit in standstill traffic loose every ounce of patience you have, boarding the central line is tapping into the stress train, cycling through any city at rush hour is pretty risky game.
A Havard business review from 2021 wrote of the positive impacts of a commute and there is a lot of truth in many of the key points touched upon. For example, the addition of structure and the idea of closure when the day starts and ends, so I suppose separation of work and home life, both very valid and important elements of ones working day.
….what your commute is possibly doing to your stress levels at the very beginning of your day can be considered detrimental to your mental health. We as a society have learnt to adjust and a busy and stressful commute is often ‘just part of the day’, but it doesn’t have to be, and it certainly does not have to be having negative impacts on our mental health.
The Royal Society for Public Health* discovered that over half of workers said their commute increased their stress levels, over a third of commutes claimed their commute decreases the time they spend sleeping and more than two in five say commuting decreases the time they spend being physically active.
..of commuter distress might include delays, overcrowding, uncomfortable temperatures, anti-social behaviour and the length of time it take to travel and consequently the impact of their quantity of sleep.
Peronsally I remember when I used to drive to work and no matter what time I left home I always seemed to end up in a traffic jam, which not only made me have, what I like to call minor road rage, but also often made me late which filled me with frustration . I then moved to London and believe it or not was excited by the prospect of a commute on the London Underground, how naive I was, it soon became my most disliked form of travel due to the pushing the shoving, the sweaty armpits in your face and the waste of 40 minutes, as the chances of reading or being mindful were as likely as Donald Trump being called sane.
So what can we do…..
1. The Chimp Paradox
The first piece of advice I would like to share is to read The Chimp Paradox. Honestly this was a total game changer when it came to controlling my ‘minor road rage’, it taugot me a lot about recognising when the chimp in our minds is in control, and when you’re almost loosing control of logical thoughts due to the external stressors.
2. Find where the problem lies
Take a look at your commute, even if you only commute once or twice a week because you WFH**, try to find which part of your commute is your personal leading cause of increasing your stress levels. Recap the possible causes above, or perhaps it is something totally different. Once you find the stressor, write it down.
3. How can we change the stressor?
If you can remember year 7 science classes and can still mind map, here is an opportunity to mind map your stressor. Have a think about any possible options you have to lessen the risk of this stressor, and or how to erase it completely. It might be that overcrowding is a problem for you, so is there a way you could commute earlier and use the extra time to gym before work? You might be struggling with the journey time, could you think of something you could do as a task on each of these journeys, you might just want to watch an episode of something or make a travel coffee and do a duo lingo class.
4. Utilise the commute
The harsh reality is that many of us have to commute, so what we need to do is to find a way to utilise our commute to ensure no matter how long the journey the time is put to some good use, that good use can be as simple as listening to a few tracks and having your morning drink.
5. Morning Routine
There is vast amounts of research into why a strong morning routine is beneficial for an individuals wellbeing, including the more recent introduction of the 5am club*** (another interesting concept worth looking into).
But trust me it’s worth ensuring you have a solid morning routine in place that includes utilising you commute or what you do before you start working from home.
Make your bed
Ensure you have 5/10 minutes to wake up properly, boil the kettle etc
Drink a big glass of cold water
Be mindful for 2 minutes
Now it’s a stretch to action all these tips straight away but try one or two a day and keep note of the changes you see.