10 Mindful Things You Can Do to Improve Your Daily Commute

Mindful things to do on your daily commute to avoid stress
Photo c/o: Roberto Hund

Commuting– the stressor we cannot do without. If this twice-daily source of stress ranks as the least enjoyable part of your day, you are not alone.

Research has linked the mundane task to a variety of health problems; including obesity, neck pain, back pain, and even heart attack. For people who face deadlines on both ends of a commute, it has been found to elevate anxiety levels, and cause stress that influences one’s interactions afterward at work and home.

A study by Swiss economists Alois Stutzer and Bruno S. Frey describes commuting as a mental and physical burden whose negative effect outweighs the positive. The study’s main result indicated that people with long journeys to and from work are systematically worse off and report significantly lower subjective well-being.

While there are things that are beyond our control– noise, long queues, traffic, or overcrowding– there are ways you could utilize this time and turn a long commute into a great way to start and/or end your workday.

Ahead are 10 mindful things you can do on your daily commute to make your journey a peaceful, mindful, and productive experience.

10 Ways to Make Your Commute More Mindful:


  1. Stop rushing

In our fast-paced lives, it is almost impossible not to bump into someone or something in the streets. On a bad day, you come too close to being run over by a driver who is in as much of a hurry as you. Slow down. Wake up in good time, leave early enough, and own the power to control your experience. This act of mindfulness will not only keep you safe in these streets, but it will also ensure you are intentional– starting with the selection of your ride.


  1. Forget about work

Finishing up on pending work during your commute may seem like a good idea. Well, it is not necessarily a bad one, but according to an article published in the Journal of Management, the use of communication technologies after hours was associated with the employee’s work-to-life conflict, which extended to personal relationships. While ditching tech altogether may not be feasible, instead of work-related calls and emails during your commute, find ways to strengthen your relationships– call and catch up with a friend or family.


  1. Read /listen to a book

A great tip for developing an effective reading habit is to always carry a book with you. When commuting, this doesn’t have to be a hard copy book; it could be an e-book or even an audiobook, where you can just lean back, close your eyes, and let the knowledge flow. This is one of the best ways to ensure that you reduce stress, stimulate your mind, and learn something new every day.


  1. Listen to a podcast

The good thing about podcasts is that there’s one on almost every topic. Listening to one can uplift your mood on your way to work, ensuring you stay positive and productive throughout the day. A motivational podcast can also lift your spirits after a long day at work, and change your outlook altogether. Find one (or two) that suits your interest, and make it your commuting buddy.


  1. Listen to music

There’s always that one playlist that will always have your heart. (See what I did there?) A 2007 study found that listening to classical and self-selected relaxing music after exposure to a stressor significantly reduces negative emotional states and increases relaxation compared to listening to heavy metal music or sitting in silence. This will help you relax and stay calm, in a way that not even that annoyingly loud pair seated next to you could ruin the moment.


  1. Unplug

Sometimes, the best and most productive thing you can do on a commute is nothing at all. Shut out from both technology and your thoughts, and instead direct your focus on the journey itself; be in the moment and notice how everything affects you, even that billboard advert that you see daily, but do not really look at. This act of mindfulness gives you a whole new commuting experience, from which you can learn something.


  1. Get some shut-eye

A long commute often means early mornings, and late nights (depending on the time you get off work.) Why not use this time to catch up on some sleep? However, make sure you find a comfortable seat and ensure all your belongings are safe and hard to reach. The extra sleep will not only refresh your mind, but it will also make your commute fly by.


  1. Meditate

Meditation is a cool way to make your commuting experience more mindful. Research has linked regular meditation to stress reduction and increasing one’s level of happiness. Try meditation apps or even calm yourself with subtle breathing techniques. For busy individuals, this might be the only free time you get, and hey, it is often time wasted on traffic.


  1. Self-reflect

Use your commute for making a life audit. Start with your current position in life, connect that with your past; have you done all the things you’ve always wanted to do? Is your physical and mental wellbeing where you want it? Come up with practical ways you can use the resources at your disposal to improve every aspect of your wellbeing. Use this time to also reflect on the positives and wins, and be grateful.


  1. Enjoy the scenery

It is easy to get stuck in your thoughts during a commute. Try being present by securing a seat by the window and enjoy the scenery in motion outside, noticing and focusing on details. This simple exercise is quite mind-opening as it gives you a whole new outlook and perspective on life, which brings about a sense of gratitude.

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