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10 Activities to Enrich Your Commuting Journey

10 Activities to Enrich Your Commuting Journey

In our fast paced, on the go lifestyle we rarely find the time to do something for ourselves. We are either working, spending time with family and friends, or traveling to and from work. With land close to major cities dwindling, rents are higher than ever and people are forced to make the epic journey into work from the outer suburbs.

The commute for many is extremely stressful and tough to deal with, but there are ways to make better use of your time and turn the long commute into a positive experience. These are 10 activities that will help enrich your commuting journey:

1. Sit next to or admire attractive commuters.

A study conducted by Dr. Glenn Williams and Rowena Hill from Nottingham University found that something as simple as sitting next to a fellow commuter you find attractive can reduce your stress and make for a more positive journey.

Dr. Williams says, “Commuting stress is something most of us can relate to. It can affect a person’s physical and psychological well-being and can lead to conflict at home and poor performance at work.” Sitting next to or admiring attractive commuters will help you take your mind off the daily commute, making it more enjoyable and a more positive experience.

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2. Find a friend to travel with.

Spending an hour or two alone in a car can be difficult and in some cases can cause feelings of isolation and general unhappiness.

To make your car ride more enjoyable try to organize a car pool or perhaps find a friend that is heading in the same direction and offer them a lift. The social interaction will help develop your communication skills, make the experience more enriching, and it can reduce travel expenses. Many job roles require customer interaction and being social prior to work will help you get in the mood, which in turn will help you become more productive and happier in the workplace.

3. Catch up on some sleep.

A long commute generally means early mornings or late nights, so take the opportunity to catch up some sleep. This is difficult if you drive to work, but for those that take public transport a snooze will refresh you and make your commute fly by. Before you fall asleep make sure you keep all your belongings in a tough to reach place and enjoy yourself. You may find that the extra sleep will have you excited for your commute.

4. Relax and take the time to be with your thoughts.

We very rarely have any time to just sit down, relax and be with our thoughts. Change your perspective of your commute and use the time to think about things you have neglected over the years. This is the time to think about the business you have always wanted to start, the book you have always wanted to read or places you have always wanted to visit. You may be surprised at what comes from this time you spend with your thoughts and it could take you to a whole new place in life.

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In an article on Huffington Post, meditation experts at the app Headspace recommend “being mindful of your environment and the tendency to resist it; being mindful of the emotions as they rise and fall, come and go…mindful of wanting to be somewhere else, of wishing time away; and mindful of wanting to scream out loud or put your foot down in the car.”

5. Plan your schedule for the day ahead.

The time we spend commuting is valuable time, especially for the busy, work-focused individual. Be productive; use your commute to plan tomorrow or your night ahead. Why wait until you get home to sort out your morning meeting? Spend the time at home with your family or relaxing on the couch. Preparing for the day ahead will relieve stress and make you far more efficient. If you change your perspective of your commute, you will be far less stressed and more productive than ever.

6. Take a more scenic route.

Rebecca Tatum White’s commute takes two hours each day, but she enjoys the drive. This is because her commute runs along the coast and the view “takes my breath away each morning.” She waves at surfers and takes in the local architecture of her city, which makes her happier, creating a more enriching commute.

A change of scenery can alter your perspective and give you a whole new outlook on life. Taking the alternate route may be slightly longer than your normal commute, but it beats a drive full of run down and dilapidated buildings.

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7. Take the time to keep in touch with family or friends.

Finding time to keep in touch with friends and family is difficult to say the least, but remember you have a long commute at your disposal. Talk about something positive with your friends or see how your nephews and nieces are doing; this will give you a more positive mindset and allow you to forget about the arduous journey home.

Williams and Hill suggest being social and talking with friends or family can lead to a more positive journey. Try it and see your commute home become far more enriching.

8. Use the time to learn something new.

Many people utilize the commute home to learn something new. Ashlee White uses her hour long commute home to learn Spanish and says, “it’s the perfect length of time to squeeze in some practice.”

It is a dream of countless people to learn a new language, either for their professional lives, to communicate with family members or perhaps because they have always wanted to. However, so many of us use the excuse of “I don’t have the time.” Do what Ashlee has done and take advantage of a long commute. It is the perfect time to sit down, read through your notes and learn something new.

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9. Listen to calm and relaxing music.

Ease your way into the day by listening to some calm and soothing music. According to a Populus survey, people that listen to heavy metal or hard rock are more likely to succumb to road rage or collisions. Instead, your body needs to be calm in the morning.

Listening to some smooth tunes rather than your regular loud rock will help you relax, calm down and create a safer drive to work.

10. Bring an iPod, tablet or laptop.

Bring something for entertainment and use it to be productive. Write that novel you have been thinking about, or play some mind teaser games to get your mind ready for the day ahead. Sitting on the train and zoning out is not the most effective use of time, so something as simple as bringing a laptop can dramatically improve your productivity.

Staying entertained will not only help the long commute seem quicker, but it will also allow you to get into the right head space, relax and become more productive throughout the day creating an overall more enriching commute.

Featured photo credit: It’s MARTA/Brett Weinstein via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 23, 2018

How to Eliminate Work Stress When You’re Stressed to the Max

How to Eliminate Work Stress When You’re Stressed to the Max

Workplace stress is a modern epidemic. More than one-third of American workers experience chronic work stress. This is estimated to cost American businesses up to $300 billion a year in lost work hours and medical bills.[1]

Clearly, if you’re suffering from work stress – you’re far from alone. But, work stress isn’t inevitable.

In this article, I’m going to help you identify the root cause of your stress and suggest the most suitable ways to cope with job stress so you can become a happy and productive worker again.

Where Work Stress Comes From

Certain factors tend to go hand-in-hand with work-related stress. The causes of stress include:

  • Too much work – you feel overwhelmed by your work and find yourself saying: “There are not enough hours in the day!”
  • The job is too easy, not challenging or inspiring – this is where boredom (which is stressful) sets in.
  • Pressure from co-workers or lack of social support – colleagues are not helpful or only care about their own tasks.
  • Little praise and lots of criticism – this is where a lousy manager uses constant criticism to ‘try’ to motivate you.
  • Very demanding or competitive working culture – sales departments often fit this category.
  • Not having enough control over job-related decisions – this is when people try to micro-manage you.
  • High expectations on yourself or seeking perfection – while it’s good to do your best, being a perfectionist can be a powerful stress generator.
  • Low salary – if you work hard but receive slim financial rewards, you may start to feel downhearted, frustrated and stressed.

The Negative Effects of Stress on Your Mind and Body

Chronic stress is bad news for your mental health and physical health. These are some health symptoms of stress:[2]

    If stress hormones are triggered in your body for extended periods, they can lead to increased physical aging. This is because stress makes your cells look and act older – and this is reflected in your physical appearance.[3]

    In addition to the negative effects on your body, stress also has a significant influence on your brain – negatively impacting your daily performance.

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    I recommend you watch the 4-minute video below to see just how stress can wreak havoc on your brain and your performance:

    How to Cope with Work Stress (A Step-By-Step Guide)

    You don’t need to be a victim of work stress. Here’s how to manage stress in the workplace:

    1. Set aside some time for planning

    If work has become too much for you, and you’re constantly falling behind… stop! Instead of trying and failing to catch up, you’d be much better off spending some time thinking about your goals and how your prioritize your tasks.

    Learn how to set clear goals with this step-by-step guide.

    For instance, if your initial goal is just to get on top of your work (probably for the first time in months), then take 10 minutes to think clearly and deeply about how you can achieve this. Most likely, you’ll be able to come up with tasks that you need to complete to reach your goal. And once your goal and tasks are clear in your mind, you’ll be ready for the second step.

    2. Align your tasks with your goal

    Just knowing your goal and associated tasks is not enough. Many people reach this stage but still fall behind with their work and fail to achieve their goals.

    The secret is to understand which of your tasks should be high priority and which ones can be done when you have spare time.

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    For example, checking your inbox every 20 minutes may seem to be a productive task for you, but in reality it acts as a constant distraction and productivity killer. Instead, you’d be better off setting aside 30 minutes in the morning to check your emails and 30 minutes in the afternoon to do the same.

    By doing this, you’ll free up the bulk of your day for tasks that can help you reach your goal. These tasks are likely to be things like: writing a business proposal, creating a PowerPoint presentation, and finishing an important project.

    These tips on how to prioritize will help you align your tasks with your goals and work 10X more efficiently.

    3. Remove, change or accept the stressors

    How to tackle specific work stressors? I recommend the following method that WellCast introduced:[4]

    Take a piece of paper and divide it into three columns. At the top, write remove in the first column, change in the second and accept in the third.

      Next, think of the stressors that are getting to you the most. Perhaps it’s your paycheck; it might be way smaller than you’d like or feel that you deserve. Don’t worry, this is your chance to break free from the stress surrounding your low pay.

      Think for a few moments, which would you prefer:

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      • To remove yourself from the company
      • To try to change your salary by asking for a pay rise
      • To accept that your salary is okay for you

      You may be surprised at what thoughts come into your mind. Don’t reject them, but allow yourself time to be clear on how you’d like to proceed.

      If the status quo feels good to you, then write “paycheck” in the accept column. If you decide you want to increase your salary but stay in the same company, write “paycheck” in the change column. And finally, if you decide the time is right to seek a new opportunity at a different organization, then write “paycheck” in the remove column.

      By being decisive in this way, you’ll immediately feel freer and in control of your destiny. And your stress levels will begin to trend downwards. All that remains is to set yourself a clear goal of what you want to achieve and how you’re going to do this.(Luckily, steps #1 and #2 above will help you out!)

      Of course, if you have multiple work stressors, then use your remove, change or accept sheet to work through all of them. It will be time VERY well spent.

      4. Create positive relationships at work

      One key to improving your ability to manage stress is being able to accept help from others. Not only does it alleviate negative circumstances by simply distracting you and creating a buffer between daily tasks and their negative connection, it will provide a sense of support and relief.

      Make an effort to create friendships with your colleagues. Go to the after-work happy hour or just ask a colleague out for coffee at lunchtime. Not only will you have someone to confide in, but you will start to associate positive feelings to work.

      Forming a healthy relationship with your manager or supervisor is also a good way to alleviate stress. Positive, two-way conversations about where you stand in your job, being honest about how you feel, and working together to make a plan of action in terms of improved work conditions and expectations are paramount. This will lead to opening up and receiving the necessary resources you need to support or help you.

      5. Take time out for yourself

      Anyone can get overwhelmed when stress occurs at work, and this can spill into other areas of your life. This is why it’s important to clock out mentally from your job from time to time.

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      Take time off to relax and unwind in order to regain your energy and come back to work invigorated. Make sure you actually do something you enjoy like spending time with your kids or partner, or visit that country you’ve always wanted to explore.

      If taking time off work isn’t possible in the midst of your stress, take scheduled breaks throughout your day. Sit quietly somewhere or do some stretches to get your blood flowing like in the example below:

      6. Take mindful action towards your health

      The irony of stress is that your healthy habits can take a backseat. Maintaining and even improving your health will keep your stress under control. Here are some ways to keep you physically fit:

      • Eat healthy foods. Make sure your diet is full of foods that provide your body with sufficient nutrients. Eat more fruits and green vegetables, whole foods, omega-3 rich fish, and seeds such as flax, chia and hemp. These types of food ensure your body is working optimally to cope with its stress mechanisms.
      • Avoid unhealthy foods. This is obvious, but it’s these kinds of food you reach for in times of stress and negativity. High fat foods such as cheese and red meat cause sluggishness and tiredness. Foods high in refined sugars like biscuits, chocolate bars, and bread can be convenient snacks, but they cause you to crash and burn. Same with caffeinated drinks such as coffee and sodas – these are just ‘band aid’ habits that interfere with your ability to sleep.
      • Exercise regularly. Endorphins are the best for counteracting stress, and what better way to release them than doing physical exercise. Exercise creates a distraction and helps you get your thoughts back together in an orderly way. Start a new exercise regime – whether it’s running, swimming, cycling or walking to work. Getting your blood and endorphins flowing will make you feel happier.
      • Get enough sleep. Make getting 8 hours sleep a priority. When we’re stressed it can sometimes feel hard to get to sleep but sleep deprivation only exaggerates our current stress. A well-rested mind is able to find solutions to problems more easily and reacts better to daily stressors.

      Final Thoughts

      Everyone encounters stress at work. It’s a natural and normal human reaction. The difference between letting the stress overcome you and coping with it is getting a head start by creating a positive environment and lifestyle.

      Counteracting stress is both an inside and outside job. Focusing on improving your health will create a positive mind able to react better. Forming positive relationships with certain people around you will give you emotional support.

      Beat stress with the right mindset!

      Featured photo credit: whoislimos via unsplash.com

      Reference

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