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5 Steps to a Zen Commute

5 Steps to a Zen Commute
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“I love sitting in traffic,” said no one ever.

You have to get from A to B, B to C, and C to D. You need to get groceries, go to work, get to the gym, and maybe you would like to go out for a drink. Let’s face it – most of the time that involves getting into your car. And if you live in a big city, more often than not, it also involves traffic. How can you make that time less stressful and more zen?

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Here are 5 tips:

1. Listen to an audio book.

How often do you complain that you do not have enough time to read? How much time do you spend in the car? Why not use this time to check a book off your to-do list, or learn about something new that interests you? Here’s the best part: the library. The library has hundreds of audiobooks to be checked out – for free! When you have an audio CD, it automatically stops and starts up again when you get in and out of your car. No playing around with your cell phone, no problems if you are in a rush and cannot find where you left off last. Audio CDs make it simple and efficient to listen to in the car. You’ll be surprised when you find yourself nodding in agreement with your latest self-help book, or laughing out loud to a celebrity autobiography. Your commute goes by faster, and it does not feel like you are just sitting in your car wasting time.

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2. Find your calm.

What symbolizes calm to you? Find a small object or picture that reminds you of calm: a picture of a beach, a pinecone, a flower, a pebble, or a picture of your family. Whatever it is, hang it from your mirror or place it somewhere close to you. When you are feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to hold your calming object. Reconnect with your breath. Change your perspective and realize that change is the only constant in our lives, and this frustrating or exhausting experience will end. Make the choice to breathe. You do not have to judge yourself or change how you are feeling. Just breathe. Yes, you would probably like to be anywhere but in your car, but here you are. How can you connect with this moment?

3. Be grateful.

When you find yourself slipping down the slope of self-pity, begin to list all the things in your life you are thankful for. If you are on your way to work, that means you have a job, and that is something to be grateful for. If you are headed to pick up your kid, they will probably tell you a funny story on the way home and make you laugh. If you are headed to the grocery store, it means you have money to put food on the table. Begin to focus on and appreciate all the wonderful things you have in your life, and realizing that extra time in the car is sometimes just a price we pay for living wonderful, full lives.

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4. Practice positivity.

Stuck in traffic? Look around you at all the people who are also in the same spot. This is the best way to get out of the movie scene you have created for yourself in your head. Wish them a safe commute. Wish for their health and happiness. Send them good vibes and you will also start to feel better. The good energy you send out will come back to you.

5. Visualize.

Use your commute to visualize your day. How do you see it going? What challenges do you foresee, and how can you handle them with grace? What choices will you face? Use your time in the car to manifest the day you want.

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Featured photo credit: www.picjumbo.com via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on November 18, 2020

15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)

15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)
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It’s okay, you can finally admit it. It’s been two months since you’ve seen the inside of the gym. Getting sick, family crisis, overtime at work and school papers that needed to get finished all kept you for exercising. Now, the question is: how do you start again?
Once you have an exercise habit, it becomes automatic. You just go to the gym, there is no force involved. But after a month, two months or possibly a year off, it can be hard to get started again. Here are some tips to climb back on that treadmill after you’ve fallen off.

  1. Don’t Break the Habit – The easiest way to keep things going is simply not to stop. Avoid long breaks in exercising or rebuilding the habit will take some effort. This may be advice a little too late for some people. But if you have an exercise habit going, don’t drop it at the first sign of trouble.
  2. Reward Showing Up – Woody Allen once said that, “Half of life is showing up.” I’d argue that 90% of making a habit is just making the effort to get there. You can worry about your weight, amount of laps you run or the amount you can bench press later.
  3. Commit for Thirty Days – Make a commitment to go every day (even just for 20 minutes) for one month. This will solidify the exercise habit. By making a commitment you also take pressure off yourself in the first weeks back of deciding whether to go.
  4. Make it Fun – If you don’t enjoy yourself at the gym, it is going to be hard to keep it a habit. There are thousands of ways you can move your body and exercise, so don’t give up if you’ve decided lifting weights or doing crunches isn’t for you. Many large fitness centers will offer a range of programs that can suit your tastes.
  5. Schedule During Quiet Hours – Don’t put exercise time in a place where it will easily be pushed aside by something more important. Right after work or first thing in the morning are often good places to put it. Lunch-hour workouts might be too easy to skip if work demands start mounting.
  6. Get a Buddy – Grab a friend to join you. Having a social aspect to exercising can boost your commitment to the exercise habit.
  7. X Your Calendar – One person I know has the habit of drawing a red “X” through any day on the calendar he goes to the gym. The benefit of this is it quickly shows how long it has been since you’ve gone to the gym. Keeping a steady amount of X’s on your calendar is an easy way to motivate yourself.
  8. Enjoyment Before Effort – After you finish any work out, ask yourself what parts you enjoyed and what parts you did not. As a rule, the enjoyable aspects of your workout will get done and the rest will be avoided. By focusing on how you can make workouts more enjoyable, you can make sure you want to keep going to the gym.
  9. Create a Ritual – Your workout routine should become so ingrained that it becomes a ritual. This means that the time of day, place or cue automatically starts you towards grabbing your bag and heading out. If your workout times are completely random, it will be harder to benefit from the momentum of a ritual.
  10. Stress Relief – What do you do when your stressed? Chances are it isn’t running. But exercise can be a great way to relieve stress, releasing endorphin which will improve your mood. The next time you feel stressed or tired, try doing an exercise you enjoy. When stress relief is linked to exercise, it is easy to regain the habit even after a leave of absence.
  11. Measure Fitness – Weight isn’t always the best number to track. Increase in muscle can offset decreases in fat so the scale doesn’t change even if your body is. But fitness improvements are a great way to stay motivated. Recording simple numbers such as the number of push-ups, sit-ups or speed you can run can help you see that the exercise is making you stronger and faster.
  12. Habits First, Equipment Later – Fancy equipment doesn’t create a habit for exercise. Despite this, some people still believe that buying a thousand dollar machine will make up for their inactivity. It won’t. Start building the exercise habit first, only afterwards should you worry about having a personal gym.
  13. Isolate Your Weakness – If falling off the exercise wagon is a common occurrence for you, find out why. Do you not enjoy exercising? Is it a lack of time? Is it feeling self-conscious at the gym? Is it a lack of fitness know-how? As soon as you can isolate your weakness, you can make steps to improve the situation.
  14. Start Small – Trying to run fifteen miles your first workout isn’t a good way to build a habit. Work below your capacity for the first few weeks to build the habit. Otherwise you might scare yourself off after a brutal workout.
  15. Go for Yourself, Not to Impress – Going to the gym with the only goal of looking great is like starting a business with only the goal to make money. The effort can’t justify the results. But if you go to the gym to push yourself, gain energy and have a good time, then you can keep going even when results are slow.

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