Ways of working

Could mindfulness and reflection be the best use of your commute?

Unless you work from home every day, the commute is a necessary part of working life. Across the world, the average time spent commuting is about 40 minutes, but those working in bustling cities can spend a lot more time on travel – from 74 minutes in London to two hours in Bangkok.

Regus research shows that for 27% of us, this time spent in transit is wasted. But instead of whiling it away watching last night’s TV, why not take the opportunity to focus on your wellbeing? Practising mindfulness is perfect for the commute: you don’t need any kit or extra space so it’s ideal for car, bus or train travel, and it’ll boost your mood for the day ahead.

Why is mindfulness important?

Most of us try to accomplish too many things at once. As our brains wander to other important tasks, the ones we’re working on can suffer. The result is that we get lots of little jobs done, but don’t really excel at any of them. Taking a step back to refocus and reflect can be just as important as getting everything done quickly. That’s where mindfulness comes in.

 

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is all about living in the moment and being fully conscious of what’s going on, rather than feeling preoccupied and overwhelmed by past actions and future concerns. It’s been proven to improve mental wellbeing, and is often used to help manage mental health issues such as depression, stress and anxiety. It’s been shown to boost emotional intelligence, reducing the chances of conflict in the workplace, and can help your brain to exit autopilot and behave in a smarter way.

How do you practise mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a little bit like meditation. It involves putting distracting thoughts to one side, relaxing, and appreciating what’s going on in the moment. If you spend your commute stressing about being late or dwelling on projects that need to be finished, you’ll arrive at work feeling anxious and agitated. Try these mindful practices next time you head to or from the office:

  1. If you commute by public transport, try a 60-second meditation. Close your eyes and empty your mind. If a stray thought does pop into your brain, acknowledge it and let it go. This can take a bit of practice to get right. Make sure you set an alarm on your phone, as it can be quite easy to doze off when you do this first thing in the morning.
  2. If you’re driving, turn off the radio. Focus on what’s going on in the moment. Think about what your body’s doing – how do the pedals feel beneath your feet? Look at what’s going on around you, listen to the sounds of the traffic, and really concentrate on the road. It can be easy to zone out if you drive the same route every day, so mindful driving has the additional benefit of making you a more attentive driver.

These exercises are likely to help you perform better once you reach the office too – regular practice can lead to a 40% reduction in stress. For more easy examples, download the Headspace or Calm app to practise ‘mind over matter’ on the go.