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Can You Have a Happy Commute?

Pretty much everything you'll find online tells you it's nigh on impossible to have a happy commute, but as I was sat on the DLR a couple of weeks ago and the sun was streaming in through the window, with a view of the Olympic stadium in the distance, I realised that I was actually enjoying my journey to work. OK, I don't commute in regularly these days, but for five years I travelled into London from leafy Hertfordshire spending two hours of my day on a train.

I won't lie, most of the time I absolutely hated commuting and much of that was down to the thoroughly hit-and-miss service on my line, but mostly missing my son who was very young at the time. That said, there were lots of times when I enjoyed the journey and I got to wondering what commuters can do to make their travels happy ones.

Think about it, this is the only time when you're free to do absolutely nothing and it can actually be one of the most relaxing parts of your day. Rethinking the way you view the trip and trying some tips can turn your commute from a twice-daily stress into some much needed time to wind down from work and get ready to immerse themselves back into home life.

Unplug from those Gadgets

So many of us spend the majority of our waking lives plugged into one gadget or another and it can raise our stress levels. Spending some time unplugged can benefit our mental and physical health, and it might make your commute more pleasant.

Your commute might be the only part of your day when you can disconnect. Instead of checking your email, Facebook or Twitter, texting friends, or making work calls, take advantage of the opportunity to unplug and recharge. Once it becomes a habit, you may actually come to look forward to this tech-free time to read, be mindful, or just appreciate the scenery.

Find Something You Enjoy to Pass the Time

A commute can be a peaceful time between all of the other demands on us, but only if we choose to see it that way. Whether your commute is stressful or relaxing is depends on the way you think about how you're going to use that time.

Try to see it as a perfect time to spend time on the phone talking to loved ones (unless of course you're uplugged) or reading those books you just wouldn't have time to read otherwise. Lots of my fellow train commuters often use the time to catch up on sleep.

Listen to Relaxing Music

A number of studies have shown relaxing music can help to decrease anxiety. Research has shown that soothing songs can lower the anxiety levels of pre-operative patients, and a 2007 study also found that for adolescents, listening to either classical or self-selected soothing music was effective in decreasing anxiety and boosting feelings of relaxation after exposure to a stressor. Try it on your next morning commute to see if you notice a difference.

Use the time to be more Mindful

It can be easy to get stuck in negative emotions during a long commute when you might be feeling impatient about delays and wasted time. But your commute is actually a perfect chunk of time to bring your awareness to your thoughts and feelings and to practice mindfulness. There is a mindfulness app Headspace you can try to make this easier.

We hope we've given you some tips that might just make your commute a happier one. Give them a try tell us how you get on.

Well being


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