Here’s a surprise to no one: Work can be stressful. Regardless of your field, it’s very easy to succumb to the whatever stimuli makes up your workplace, whether it’s noisy, hot, and physically exhausting or mentally taxing with constant faux emergencies that need to be addressed at a moments notice. After 8-10 hours of this, it becomes easy to hold on to that stress and take it home with us.
Luckily, many of us have a time every day that we are, perhaps, not taking advantage of. We commute, in some way, to and from work. Whether by bus, train, or car, there are ways to take advantage of this time to distress before we get home and maybe take it out on our families.
You read that right. Car Yoga. Yoga has been helping people distress for hundreds of years. So why not try it in the car? I’m not saying to lay your seat back and try to pull off a downward dog on the I-40. Cars are getting closer, but they can’t drive themselves yet. There are simple poses, though, that you can try while keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. You can try “chin swings”, “bottom squeezes”, and “upper arm pumps” according to DriveTimeYoga.
Audiobooks or Podcasts
It sounds simple, but just taking your mind off of what’s stressing you can quickly relieve that stress. Getting in the car or on the bus and turning on a book by your favorite author, read in a soothing professional voice, can shift your thoughts, almost like changing the gears in your mind.
Of course an audio book can be a big commitment. If it seems like too much too soon, start with a podcast. Something not work related but about a topic you find interesting. You’ll soon find heart rate slowing and that annoying vein that’s been throbbing on your forehead slowly fading away.
I’m not telling you to assume a Buddha pose in the aisle of the subway and start chanting incoherently. While this is the image many associate with meditation, the actual practice has become more synonymous with the term “mindfulness”. This practice is all about, not emptying your mind or focusing on a single point, but of living completely in the moment.
Focusing on your breathing, then on the breaths themselves, is the first step, pulling you inward but in a way that still allows you to focus on your driving. While it may sounds silly, practicing “mindfulness” for short periods through out the day has been proven to lower stress levels in those that do them.
We know our olfactory sense is powerful. Small whiffs of an errant scent can trigger vivid memories long forgotten. We can use this in our attempt to de-stress. Lavender scented car fresheners have been shown to lower stress levels.
Whether you’re in a car, on a bus, or on a train, the time you spend on your commute should be used to shed the stress you accumulated over the course of the workday. Nothing good comes from taking it home, and you’ll be happier and healthier in the long run.