In Australia, more than 2 million people commute to work, undertaking return journeys of more than 90 minutes, according to research by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics. This means a vast majority of people are sitting for hours in cars, trains and buses.
There is a body of research out there that confirms the deadly effects of sitting for long hours. Combine that with the findings of a British research which suggests that driving affects cognitive abilities, and you know that commuting to work for long hours is bad for you.
This research found that people who spent about two hours driving each day not only had less brain power but they also showed a rapid decline in mental abilities. While another research from the UK makes a direct correlation between commute time and job satisfaction and found that every extra minute of commute time reduces job satisfaction, In fact, an additional 20 minutes of commuting per day is as bad as receiving a 19 percent annual pay cut when it comes to measuring job satisfaction.
So what can you do to make sure your commute to work does not kill your health, your brains and your happiness?
Opt for public transport
Although the commute to work may get longer when you hop on a bus or train, research shows that people are in a better mood than spending hours in a car. This is because travelling on public transport gives you a chance to relax. So spend that time looking after yourself.
Catch up on your reading or listen to a podcast or your favourite audiobook. Just as reading does, activities like mindfulness meditation and deep breathing techniques also help relieve stress. This helps boost creativity, productivity, and brain power and puts you in a better mood when you get to work.
Being on public transport also gives you the opportunity to socialise with other people. Research shows that socialising regulate your stress and anxiety and also strengthens brain power and memory formation. It also reduces feelings of isolation and boosts your wellbeing. So buddy up with a friend or a colleague and make the commute to work more fun and less lonely.
Walk or cycle to work
Exercise has many benefits for our health and what better way to commute to work then to get much-needed exercise as you go to work.
So, take up cycling or walking to work which is much better for your mental health and your wellbeing than driving.
Plus, you will also gain the many health benefits associated with these activities as you arrive at work feeling less stressed and more active.
If you notice being out in nature always makes you feel better, and plenty of studies provide the evidence to support what you feel. So walk through the parklands or ride through the city bike tracks and embrace the calm serenity that nature provides.
Adjust how you drive
For many, driving to work is the only option. In this case, you can make a few adjustments to make your commute less stressful.
Consider car-pooling with other colleagues so that you get a break from driving. Besides, this way you can also enjoy the company of your workmates which keeps you from feeling isolated and stressed during the drive.
You can also consider talking to your manager or employer about working from home occasionally which will give you a chance to de-stress.
Driving in your work clothes can be tiresome and uncomfortable. So remember to wear your most comfortable shoes while you drive. You can always change back into your work shoes when you arrive at work. This way, you are less anxious and tired and your feet are happy too.
Learn to de-stress and relax when you are stuck in traffic. Listen to some upbeat tunes or a funny podcast while you drive. Research shows that listening to happy music does wonders for your mood and happiness.
How you travel to work can really change how you feel at the end of the commute. And this can really improve your health and wellbeing in the long term. So make some positive changes to your work commute today.