It’s September, we are all back to school and work, the days are getting shorter and so are our fuses. Getting the most out of each day can be difficult, so why not make a bit more use of your commute?
Yes, commuting is often seen as a necessary evil, but it doesn’t have to be.
Here are some ideas to make it a mindful experience, which will set you, and those around you, up for the day ahead.
Or simply switch it off. This allows you to be present and notice all the sounds around you while you drive.
We spend so much time indoors these days in air conditioned offices, its good to get some fresh air.
If you commute by car, get those windows open and enjoy the breeze in your hair, plus the smells, sights and sounds.
You can also introduce more fresh air into a train or bus commute by getting off a little earlier or perhaps cycling home from the train station.
It is difficult to be in the moment when there are a lot of distractions, so a busy commute or drive is actually a good time to practice the technique.
Be careful when you choose to do this exercise as it will relax you so make sure it is safe to proceed. Take a deep breath in and exhale while concentrating solely on your breathing, making sure your out breath is longer than your in breath.
Practicing mindfulness while driving can make you more aware of our surroundings. It’s like ‘I spy’, looking at your surroundings and taking it all in, that way mindful driving helps you to not be lost in your thoughts. Notice how your hands feel on the wheel and how your feet feel on the pedals and take note of your route and what’s happening around you.
If you are on public transport, take a moment to notice your surroundings, who and what you can see and feel. Next, concentrate just on your breathing. If you are on public transport you can let your mind wonder. There will be thoughts floating through your consciousness, simply acknowledge them and let them pass. Keep track of your breathing and stay in this state for 5-10 minutes on your commute.
Another mindfulness technique is to scan your body from top to toe and notice where you are tense and ask your body to let go of the tension. Completing these steps will bring you into the present.
The more you practice, the more natural it becomes.
Leave early. Being late is a real stress point, so leave a few minutes early so there is no rush. That way you can take your time, look around at your surroundings and take in the views.
The same old, same old gets boring after a while. Use a map app and find a new route. Have a look at country roads rather than opting for the motorway. They are more fun to drive, and the scenery is much better too.
You can do the same if you are on public transport, take a different bus route or a different train service.
Think through what you need to achieve in the day, how you want conversations to go and what the best outcomes could be. Keep it positive and see the impact this will have on your day.
This is probably best to do in your car rather than on public transport – unless you really are an extrovert! Put on your favourite feel good tunes and go for it. Singing is a great stress buster and it releases healthy chemicals into the brain.
It’s easy to trudge along in your daily commute looking glum but smiling and happiness are contagious.
If you are driving, smile at your fellow drivers, don’t let road rage get the better of you.
A smile and a wave could make someone’s day.