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Best Things To Do For Different Commute Journey

Best Things To Do For Different Commute Journey

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    Let’s think about all the time we spend commuting. It is part of our daily routine, part of our lifestyle — in other words, it is unavoidable. So what makes best use of our commuting time? What do we prioritize when we think about the time we must spend travelling? Are we in favor of making good use of it? Perhaps it adds time to your favorite activity, such as reading a book. Or perhaps you are more concerned with being home on time, and spending more time with your family or your job, and not with the road.
    Whatever your personal concerns regarding this are, the fact remains that we all must factor in these concerns when adjusting to a new job, or a new place to live. The decisions made surrounding this will affect your daily life and routine, and can have a great impact on your happiness and wellbeing.

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    TRAVEL BY TRAIN/ METRO

    Train can be one of the best (stress-free) ways to commute, because you are generally dealing with no concerns regarding traffic. The Metro runs on the exact time it says it will, and in big cities this is constant and frequent. So long as you are within walking distance to the station, you really have not much worry at all. You also have a community of people to engage with, if you so desire. If not, you could just do the following:

    COMMUTE TIME: 30 minutes
    Full 30 minutes: Audio books are a great idea for the train, especially if you might need to be standing for the duration of your trip and don’t want to have to hold a book up the whole way. Blinkist is a great audio book app to use, otherwise this list of ten apps is also helpful. Podcasts are also a great idea. Your thirty minutes will be up before you know it – you’ll probably be looking forward to the thirty minutes on the way home!

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    TRAVEL BY CAR

    Studies have shown that travelling alone by car can have some detrimental effects on the human psyche. In terms of happiness, long commutes alone can lead to feelings of isolation and helplessness, as it cuts off human interaction and correspondence with local communities. Our health may also be at risk without exercise during this time, leading to weight gain and muscular problems, not to mention time that could better be spent sleeping.
    Travelling by car, however, can be the quickest and most direct route. And if we use our time wisely, we can overcome the majority of negative effects. For example:

    COMMUTE TIME: 45 minutes.
    First 5 minutes: Listen to the news/ radio
    Next 40 minutes: Listen to your pick of Podcast/ audio book/ recordings from your children – the world is your oyster when you are alone in your car! But remember while you are travelling/ listening to eat some carrot sticks, drink lots of water, and wriggle your muscles a little while you’re sitting at the stop lights.

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    TRAVEL BY BUS

    Travelling by bus can also be difficult in terms of traffic. Similar to commuting by car, you are at mercy of the traffic, and sometimes can be waiting a long time for the ride you need. For this reason, packing a book is essential. Taking your mind off the journey is a good idea, and generally bus rides can be pleasant, given that you have allowed enough time for your journey so as to feel stress-free. Buses can be less packed than trains and you are much more likely to get a seat. So if you can, strike up a conversation with a fellow traveller. Human interaction can pleasantly surprise us, and it can also be a great way to pass the time. Otherwise, you might try this pattern:

    COMMUTE TIME: 60 minutes.
    First 15 minutes: Sit back and enjoy your take-away coffee.
    Next 35 minutes: Either interact with fellow travellers, or nestle in to a half hour with your book.
    Last 10 minutes: Listen to some upbeat music to put you in a good mood for the day ahead. The longer the commute, the harder it is to stay upbeat on a daily basis. So remember to relax and spend the time wisely!

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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