Whether it’s on foot, behind the wheel, or standing in a crowded train, we spend a lot of our time to commuting to work. Estimates show that, on average, we spend an hour getting to work, and for some of us it’s longer still. It’s time for us to start making the most of that travelling time, and leave anxiety behind
Let’s be honest, how often do you feel exhausted just by getting to and from work?
Whatever form your commute takes, it is not uncommon for us to be left feeling drained. Research shows rail commuters, in particular, are getting drawn into extended work time, using free Wi-Fi and mobile phones to check emails. Great for efficiency, but is it coming at a price?
We want to know if there are practical ways we can get more from our commute, feel energised, and reduce anxiety...
A change of landscape
“For most people, they’d rather their commute was as short as possible,” she says. “Kirstie and Phil are right when they talk about ‘location location location’, but if the property prices near work are out of your league, there are still ways to improve your situation.
“Maybe you could get off the train and walk the last part of your journey? Or you could plan a trip to a local gym before or after work, so you avoid travelling at peak times. For some people, it could be worth asking to work from home a couple of days a week. The point is to look at all your options.”
How does commuting really affect us?
Researchers from the University of West England studied more than 26,000 employees commuting in England over a five-year period, and discovered that each extra minute of commuting time reduces both job and leisure-time satisfaction, increases strain, and worsens mental health for workers.
Crucially, the same study found that commuters on foot or bike didn’t report the same dissatisfaction with their leisure time as those who commute by bus or train.
It concluded that an additional 20 minutes of commuting per day equates to the same negative effect on job satisfaction as receiving a 19% pay cut.
So, is it time we give greater weighting to the commute, looking at it in the same way we do the salary package?
Deborah says: “If you have a commute you hate, to a job that you don’t like, then maybe it’s time to reassess things, or to get some help from a coach on how to get out of that situation. It might be something you have to do for the time being, but what if you didn’t need to put up with it forever?
“Life-hacking to maximise potential can be fun, but the truth is, it’s your time and you get to choose what you do with it. Listen to your body and what feels good. Would you like a quick nap? Would you like to read War and Peace? You get to choose what delights you.”
Can employers help the commuting workforce?
One innovative way to address several issues has come out of Alabama, USA. Four months ago, Onin, an industrial staffing company, set up Hytch – an app which rewards employees for carpooling, paying them several cents per mile to share transport. In the UK, there’s Liftshare, a free online service allowing you to offer and view regular lifts from drivers in your area.
With loneliness an increasing factor of mental ill-health, could sharing the commute with your colleagues, or somebody outside of the office, be the way forward? Whatever way we look to tackle our trips to and from work, maybe it is time we make things easier for ourselves and get back in the driving seat of our commute.
Our Twitter followers Share their commuting experiences, and, importantly, their advice:
“I drive from Brighton to just outside of Gatwick every day. I love to listen to podcasts on the drive to and from work – it keeps me active, learning, and is not overly distracting, so I can keep my wits about me on the road!” @__nca
“I cycle on backroads. Or if getting the bus, watch Netflix. My bro uses Waze [a navigation app] for his drive – swears by it, especially when it saves him 30 mins or more!”
“I struggle with anxiety on public transport, and use it every day for work. I always pack a snack, water, a good book, and a playlist I call “calm”, which is full of my favourite music to keep my mood positive!”
“I do a 40min tube commute, plus walking either end. One thing I find helps is always having a good book lined up for the journey – I actually come to look forward to being below ground, away from distractions, and having some ‘me time’ to read.”