Commuting Stress

How to Practice Mindfulness and Reduce Commuting Stress

Whether driving in a car or sitting on a bus or train for daily commutes, people have the tendency to let their minds wander to unpleasant topics—adding to the already stressful task of getting to work.

The University School of Medicine in Saint Louis and the Cooper Institute in Dallas have found that people with commutes of at least 10 miles each way have more anxiety and depression than those who don’t have daily commutes at all. A report from the U.K.’s Office of National Statistics confirms this, and adds that people who commute experience lower life satisfaction and happiness than people with no commutes.

You don’t have to allow commuting stress to have a negative effect on your life!

Dedicating one, two, or more commuting days every week to learn how to practice mindfulness, can help reduce commuting stress and also overflow into the rest of your day in a positive way. According to Harvard and other research bodies, living in the present moment can significantly improve overall emotional and physical health.

Right Here Right Now living is about keeping your mind from wandering into the past or present by noticing your thoughts, emotional and physical feelings, and the sensory and relational experiences that are in your present moment. Strengthening your ability to observe these things, without judging or criticizing them, can be a practice that not only has tremendous benefits in your life, but also becomes something you enjoy doing.

5 Tips to Reduce Commuting Stress

1.Notice Your Thoughts
The beginning of your daily commute may be the first time since you got up that you have a chance to notice how you’re feeling. Once you’ve sat with your feelings, without judgement, you might be able to exchange your negative thoughts for more positive ones by—A. Focusing on things that you’re grateful for, and by—B. Expecting the best rather than the worst case scenario for things to come. If you’re feeling great, then gratefulness will only brighten your sunny view.

2.Notice the Feelings in Your Body
As you notice your emotions, also take note of what you feel in your body—the two are often related. Awareness of sensations in different parts of your body can not only help you better understand your emotions and thoughts, but can help ground your mind in the present moment—it also draws your attention to an opportunity to breath tension out of your body. Using the Mindfulness ZZZs 4 Better Sleep exercise, breath deeply and imagine your breath going to the tense areas and try to relax each spot as you exhale.

3.Use Your Five Senses
Driving and taking mass transit become auto-response activities. During your commute, try thinking about what sensory experiences are happening around you—What do you see? Notice how far ahead the car is in front of you. What color clothes are the people wearing that are on the train? What do you hear? Can you separate all of the different sounds?

These may seem like unimportant observations, but this kind of awareness can focus thoughts in the present moment as opposed to ruminating on worrisome issues that you can do nothing about in the present moment, which will only diminish your happiness and overall well-being.

For more on how to practice mindfulness using your five senses…

Use Your 5 senses to Be in the NOW .

4.Engage With Others in a Positive Way
Interacting with people is mindfulness action, and if you choose to put out positive thoughts and actions, always taking the high road, good feelings will expand in you and others. Yield to an aggressive driver—Offer your train seat to another passenger—Smile!

Happiness is a present feeling—choosing it helps to keep you Right Here Right Now.

5.Place Reminders to be Mindful Where You’ll See Them
At RHRN, our being in the present reminder symbol is what we call The Bump—it’s a tangible interruption that gently invites us to return to the present from whatever habitual state of thinking or doing that has taken us out of the here and now.

We’ve designed a line of cool and useful items with the Right Here Right Now symbol to carry with us and place around our environment to give us regular Bumps throughout the day in our shop at:

~ Cynthia Cartier