Self-care for commuting workers
Every day around the world, we climb into our cars, onto buses and trains or even don our sneakers to travel to and from work. Ever thought what drives you to endure the long commute despite the financial and personal cost in lost time and wellbeing?
Rani Cohen from Weekday Space understands the impact the long commute can have on our health, which is why she has collaborated with Dr Greg Schwager who has worked in mental health for over 20 years, and is also guilty of a long commute each week. Together they have put together some top tips for better self-care with a long commute.
1. Creating connection: One of the biggest reasons long commutes can be challenging is the potential disconnection and loneliness. One of the strangest aspects of modern-day life is that someone can sit in a crowded train carriage every day but still lack of feeling of true connection with another human being.
Sharing your journey by methods like carpooling is not only good for the spirit but also better for the environment and more cost-efficient. If you commute a long distance, you can also consider staying closer to your work during the week for a few nights with friends or as a weekday lodger. This has an added social benefit, which is great for mental wellbeing.
2. Fuel a pastime or passion: An alternative approach is to try to make your commute a time to explore new interests, enjoy a current pastime or learn something new. Someone once told me that the only difference between you now and in a few years’ time is the people you meet and the books you read.
Listen to comedy shows or audiobooks, explore new music, learn a language or challenge your thinking. Even singing along to your favourite track can have clear brain benefits. Singing, no matter how bad you are, can help reduce stress hormones and increase positive emotions.
3. Take time to reflect: Our commute can be a rare opportunity to take a broader perspective on where we are and where we want to go from here. How many times have you had a great thought or idea in moments of reflection?
A long commute can also help put work behind us at the end of the day. Creating greater physical distance between home and work can be a good thing, to the extent that it helps us keep the two realms psychologically separate. This can help us transition more comfortably from one to the other.
Often, it’s only after life’s big changes like illness, redundancy, an unexpected opportunity or an old door closing that we are forced to look at the life we lead and what we are truly passionate about.
If you are driven by your commitment to work, then don’t forget the commitment you have to yourself and your wellbeing. Otherwise life can sometimes have a funny habit of finding a way to remind you.
“Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain