It’s Monday morning again. You wake up, shower, maybe start the day with a few sun salutations. You’re feeling good - what could possibly spoil your mood? Then you leave the house and the chaos begins.
Your train is delayed. There’s gridlock traffic on the road. The bus is packed. Suddenly your positivity dissipates as quickly as that almond milk latte. By the time you reach work, you are grumpy, sweaty and frustrated. Not an ideal start to your week.
Commuting is one of Britain’s most widely-hated activities. The longer you spend commuting, the more likely you are to be unhappy, according to a study by the Office for National Statistics. Commuting is proven to make you more anxious and feel less satisfied with life than non-commuters.
For many of us, however, travelling to work isn’t negotiable. Here are a few simple changes you can make to transform your commute from ghastly to glorious – you’ll actually start looking forward to it.
1. Practise Sama Vritti (Equal breath)
Breathing is one of the most effective ways to keep your cool while commuting. Sama vritti is an simple yogic breathing technique that soothes your parasympathetic nervous system. Just inhale for four breaths and exhale for four breaths. Repeat. Charlie Morse, founder of The Private Yogi, uses this breathing technique to relax her body and mind during stressful periods, such as commuting. “I find it is the best way to start my day calm and happy.”
2. Read ‘Wellth’ by Jason Wachob
Books have long been a way to escape reality on lengthy commutes. Switch off by opening up Jason Wachob’s book Wellth. A Wall Street banker-turned-wellness-guru, Jason discovered a new healthy way of life after suffering from debilitating sciatica. Don’t worry, Wellth isn’t preachy. It’s a funny, relatable book that takes a holistic approach to happiness, success and health.
3. Use aromatherapy oils on the move
Aromatherapy oils are an incredibly powerful tool for relaxation. They stimulate the olfactory nerve in the nose which connects to the brain, reducing stress and creating a sense of wellbeing – try a roller version with vetivert and camomile.Close your eyes and switch on this calming ‘Here and Now’ Spotify playlist from yoga teacher Adriene Mischler.
4. Try a mindfulness app
Never really understood what meditating is all about? Download Stop, Breathe & Think, a simple mindfulness app that offers a great introduction to meditation. Simply follow an easy quiz and the app will select a short guided meditation, suited to your mood that day. It will leave you feeling grounded and calm before you step into the office.
5. Be kind and give up your seat for another commuter
Even though the last thing you feel like doing on a busy commuter train is giving up your seat, it’s scientifically proven to make you feel better. Studies show that acts of kindness – like holding the door open for someone or allowing a bus to pull out in front of you – give you a ‘helper’s high’ that makes you feel happier, according to The Journal of Social Psychology. It’s also contagious, so be kind and others around you will be inspired to do the same.
6. Eat Monday for breakfast
Eating a good breakfast is key to kicking your day off to a positive start. Skipping breakfast means there are lower glucose levels in the blood, which can cause you to feel extra tired and grumpy. No wonder you get road rage on your morning commute. Begin your day with a nutritious breakfast. We recommend a big bowl of granola, fresh fruit milk or yoghurt from the Arla range, to keep you fired-up for a long day at work.
7. Wake up earlier and walk to work
It might sound obvious, but walking to work can dramatically improve your Monday. Physical activity, like walking, can be as effective as medication and counselling according to the Mental Health Foundation. Wake up slightly earlier, lace upyour trainers and pace to the office. You will arrive feeling happy and naturally energised, rather than half-asleep at your desk.
8. Listen to an uplifting podcast
Podcasts are the 21st century’s must-have commuting companion. Listening to a podcast is like having your favourite radio host on demand, speaking about everything - from murder mysteries to agony aunt advice. We recommend Modern Love, an adaptation of the famous New York Times relationship column. Every week it’s a different story about all kinds of relationships. Guaranteed to start your day with a smile.