This week's BYP Blog is a guest article from Lildonia Lawrence, a life coach, educator and yoga instructor. Lildonia produces monthly content for the BYP Network centred on wellbeing, wellness and healthy living.
If you are a professional in an urban setting, chances are you spend a decent proportion of your week commuting. Whether it’s bus, tube or train few relish those moments cramped in close quarters with a shed load of highly wired office bods. Commuting can be stressful, and several studies have noted the impact on anxiety and stress levels, physical health and interpersonal relationships.
The morning is a crucial part of your day and it’s important to start as you mean to go on. I always recommend giving yourself at least an hour of ‘me-time’ before you are bombarded by the onslaught of pings and notifications you will inevitably face later in the day.
When I had my first graduate job I would roll out of bed, shovel down a sugar-filled breakfast (usually cinnamon squares or pop tarts), catch a quick glimpse of the news and run out of the door in a flurry. Now, mornings are a lot slower paced and I make sure to do something that nourishes my soul before leaving the house. For me, that’s yoga and meditation. For others, it might be reading a few pages of a book, planning out their goals for the day or simply having a cup of coffee whilst looking out the window. Whatever you choose is fine as long as it’s something that eases you into the day with positivity.
The actual commute itself is just as important. In previous years the tube was a WiFi free zone which meant we were forced to be mentally still. Now, a modern tube carriage is crammed full of stressed-out people trying to whittle their to-do list down on their way to work. Using your commute to settle your mind is a much better way to prep yourself for the day ahead.
Surprisingly, meditation and mindfulness can be brought into your journey. Simply setting a timer, closing your eyes (if it's practical) and breathing for 5-10 minutes will give you focus and calm as you set about your day. If you want to do something more active, you could try listening to inspiring podcasts or skills-building apps (such as language learning) which can help us feel productive without overwhelm.
Another option is to make your commute part of your fitness regime. Getting off the train a few stops earlier and walking the rest of the way will not only give your daily movement quota a boost, but it will also give your body an endorphin kick to fire off those happy hormones. Shuttling back and forth may not be the best part of a working day, but with a few simple tweaks and tricks, we can make our commutes work for us.
Lildonia Lawrence is a life coach, yoga instructor and sex educator working in London. She has a background in psychology and mental health and has spent many years working in the health and wellbeing industries. Her week is spent with a mixture of delivering health workshops, teaching group classes and leading coaching sessions. Alongside this, she works as a wellbeing writer for several publications. You can find out more about her work at @lildonia.lawrence