Our job or daily activity begin once you are out of the door, once you commute stars. We deal with unknowns, we deal with emergencies, and often, we deal with public transportation. And, of course, we deal with people. Crowded trains, subways, public places and rush hour. Sometimes, stuck in road rage traffic, we feel like we can just leave the car and run screaming.
Commuting can take a major toll on our health.
However there a few things we can preemptively do to lesser the stress.
We can’t control what will happen during the commute, we can’t control people. But, we can control how we plan the commute, when we are going to commute, and what to do in cases of problems.
Don’t wait until the last second to leave your house. Do not arrive only a minute early at the train station. Be smart about time. If you think driving or walking to the train or bus station will take you, for example, 15 minutes, plan for 25 and leave then. Mr. Murphy always tries to derail our things, so, plan for that and add time. If you are early, well, you can always get a coffee, or check your email, or just enjoy the sunrise.
If your actual commute is 30 minutes long, for example, then add a buffer and give yourself at least an extra 10 minutes. Traffic accidents, issues on the train tracks, a person suffering from a heart attack… Plan for things really not working out the way you’d like them, and remove the stress of that. If you plan for it, you won’t be stressed when it does happen.
The same applies to what you do during the commute. If you are used to checking work emails and that stresses you, and you arrive already a ball of nerves, then don’t do it. Don’t check your email. Taking the express subway and switching to a local one stresses you because you are always trying to run and catch up, well, stop doing it. Just take the local all the way, or take the express and walk.
Remove the things that stress you.
Try to read a book. Do not read news, emails, reports, or respond to text messages. Put on some music, and read a book. Do not engage. I usually use my commute to either get my mind clear before a long day of work, or, on the way back, to wind down, after a stressful day.
Download podcasts and listen to them, there are plenty of interesting things to learn!
When is the last time you’ve truly observe the world around you? We’ve talked about situational awareness already, and you can use the commute time to enhance your awareness of what’s around you. Focus on the people, try to remember the people you “know” and then new people on the commute. Be aware of what’s going on outside the train, or car. Focus on understanding timing: yesterday it took me 12 minutes to go by this town, and today it took 18. Why? What changed?
The more you do this, the more you’ll learn about what can go wrong, and as an added benefit, it will take your mind off the stress.
One of the things I find particularly good to get my mind off things, is to brainstorm while I’m on the train. Similar to what happens when I shower, I tend to find good solutions and the beginnings of a solid plan while I stand there on the train. I can have a solid monologue in my head, analyzing the pros and cons, and often I can see things I didn’t think before.
Let your mind wander and good things will happen.
If nothing works and you are stressed anyway, just let it stress you. And laugh at the stuff. There’s nothing you can do, you might as well have fun with it. It will suck. Jut embrace that suck.