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How to Use Your Work Commute to Mentally Recharge

SO many of us dread our work commute. You may get stuck in traffic both ways. Maybe you hit every red light. Most regular drivers have experienced the misfortune of waiting for a train to pass, only to watch it stop and reverse. It’s enough to make anyone feel frustrated, especially when it seems there’s not much you can do about it.

In bigger cities, there tends to be longer commute times to and from work. There are more people and a greater area to travel across. In England, it takes most individuals 60 minutes to get to work. In the US, the average commute takes 50 minutes.

Surprisingly (or is it?), studies show that individuals with longer commute times experience decreased job satisfaction. In turn, this also translates over into decreased satisfaction in their leisure time.

Basically, your commute could be making you feel depressed.

So, what are proper mental health care measures we can use to counteract this? How can you mentally recharge on your commute, to or from work, rather than mentally fall apart?

Carpool With Friends

Ever look around on the highway during rush hour only to see one person in every car?

It is sort of silly that we all take our own car to work - isn’t it? We know it’s bad for the environment, and it definitely increases traffic jams.

Here’s the thing. If we were all to carpool, traffic would decrease by a factor of 3. That means that there would be 33% fewer cars on the road.

Socializing is also great for proper mental health care. It creates a sense of belonging, increases your self-esteem, and improves your overall well-being. It can calm you and help you vent your frustrations or create connections with friends.

Our friends are our support systems. We help each other out when times are tough. Build solid support systems and mentally recharge with good conversation and good company.

Socializing has an array of other benefits as well, including:

  • Increased longevity
  • Stronger immunity
  • Improved memory
  • Decreased risk of dementia

Carpooling is a win-win. Find a buddy and share a ride!

Jam Out to Music

Music is awesome for the brain. More specifically, classical music has been proven to lower blood pressure, increase emotional intelligence, reduce pain levels, and enhance your cognitive understanding abilities. It can also help you find your zen on the road. Prone to road rage? Maybe throw on some Mozart to help calm down your driving frustrations.

Music can also decrease your risk of depression. And don’t worry - you are not limited to just classical tunes.

Find your beat. Play music that makes you happy and boosts your mood. Get in the zone. Don’t be afraid to hum, whistle, or belt along - no one can hear you!

Although if you are driving, pay attention to the road. Groove to your music but don’t let it take your attention away from what is truly important - safety first, folks.

Read a Good Book

Good mental health care involves balance. Escape into another world with a good book. If you drive to work, this definitely is not for you. In no way do we recommend distracted driving.

However, if you are stuck on a train or bus for an hour and can tolerate reading while in motion, go for it!

Reading can help you de-stress. One study found it decreased stress in people by up to 68% - worth it. It can further increase your empathy, increase your intelligence and memory, and decrease your risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

If reading isn’t your thing, try audiobooks. You can even rent out audiobooks online from your local library. There is something so relaxing and soothing about someone else reading a story to you.

Check out the latest on The New York Times Best Sellers list. Choose a tale and know you are taking positive steps toward good mental health care. Sit back and enjoy!

Turn on a Podcast

Podcasts are all the rage. Because they are so popular right now, there are also many different types. You aren’t necessarily stuck with one genre or style. And they are perfect for those long drives and commutes.

Joe Rogan, Tim Ferris, How Stuff Works, and Oprah all have popular and top podcast series and episodes. Most of the time they are very educational - chances are you will learn something new.

You can also listen to podcasts about mental health and well-being. These can further offer strategies to help improve your mental health care and overall happiness.

Meditate

We hear this everywhere: “Meditation is good for you.” “Meditation has so many benefits.” “Meditate to clear your mind and soothe your soul.”

We get it - it is a topic that has been beaten to the ground. But its positive effects still stand.

Some sources even claim that meditation can change your brain structure. Researchers noted that the hippocampus increased cortical thickness in those that mediated. In turn, these subjects had improved memory and learning abilities. Consequently, you may experience positive mental health benefits. Learning new things helps us grow, and memory is important to maintain as we age.

Some people say that they consider driving a form of meditation in itself. When your attention is solely focused on the act of driving, you can sink into a meditative state of sorts. After all, meditation is defined as the act of bringing your attention to one particular object or activity.

If you take the train or bus, try a phone app such as Insight Timer or Headspace. Throw on your headphones and take a break with a guided or timed meditation. Include it in your regular mental health care routine and enjoy the positive benefits that meditation has to offer.

Watch a Comedy

Or whatever suits your fancy. Find something to escape the chaos around you and mentally recharge.

Comedies can help improve your mood. Laughter has the powerful ability to lower our stress levels and promote healing. Find that sitcom that makes you smile!

Again, if you are driving, this one isn’t for you. However, an hour-long train or bus ride can fly by when you are absorbed in a good show or movie. Give yourself that much-needed break after a long day of work. If you have a Netflix account, or even Amazon Prime, you can download movies and shows in advance to your phone or tablet so you don’t have to worry about running up a huge data bill.

Exercise to Work

We know the benefits of exercise. Why not get your workout in on the way to and from work?

Commuters that walk or bike to work do not experience the same dissatisfaction with their jobs or leisure time as those who drive or bus.

Why? Exercise produces endorphins. Endorphins make us feel good and decrease our pain perception. Exercise also lowers stress and helps you sleep better. The commuters that bike, run, or walk to work get these benefits every single day.

Plus, you avoid the chaotic traffic jam on the highway. Start and end your day right. Start biking, walking, or running to work.

Doodle or Write During Your Commute

Get creative. It doesn’t necessarily have to be drawing or writing. You can also knit or sew while sitting on that train or bus for 30-60 minutes. Getting creative has mental health care benefits including:

  • Decreased stress
  • Increased mood
  • Improved self-esteem and confidence
  • Increased focus and concentration

Creative activities allow us time to fully envelope our minds in something other than our major stressors and worries. Use this commute time to mentally recharge by allowing your creativity to blossom.

Conclusion

You don’t have to dread your commute to and from work. There are many ways you can mentally recharge and actually come to enjoy this time. Take advantage of transit time by taking proper care of your mental health. Pick an activity you enjoy and calm your mind!

Krista Bugden

Krista Bugden

"Believing in yourself is really half the battle," says Krista. Anything is possible and you really can achieve anything you set your mind to, is her motto. Physiotherapist, Piano player, skydiver, yogi, adventure traveler and energetic force of positivity, Krista is herself a (delightful) force to be reckoned with! As... Read More

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