Mindfulness exercises can help clear the head and combat stress, so what better time to try them than on the way to (or indeed from) work? Travelling as part of the hordes with a full eight hours ahead of you is one of the most stressful times of the day for many people, so building a few mindfulness techniques into your commute can be a wise move for your wellbeing.
It doesn’t take much to take your mind away from the worries of your working day, and the more you practise the following three techniques – shared by Dani Binnington, yoga teacher and founder of healthywholeme.com – the more easily you’ll find a bit of respite.
The first thing to try is taking in more of your surroundings on your way to work, focusing not on the day to come or something from the past, but the present.
“This happened to me after I practised yoga,” says Binnington. “I realised I was suddenly aware of little things. Usually you’re on your phone or thinking about where you’re going next. Your mind is usually not in the present – we’re rarely tuning in to what we’re doing now.
“While walking is a good time to do this, because it can be difficult to sit quietly and meditate when at home, but when we’re walking we can put our phone away and think, ‘What can I hear? What can I see?’
“Then when you arrive somewhere, you’ll feel really relaxed. You’ll realise you’ve given your mind a break and we don’t usually do that.”
The next exercise is simply focusing on your breathing.
“Try inhaling for a count of six and exhale for six,” says Binnington. “You fall into a rhythm –runners do it very naturally. Or inhale for four and exhale for six. It’s another way of keeping your mind engaged on what you’re doing right now, rather than the washing you’ve got to put on or the meeting with your boss.”
The final technique Binnington recommends is to practise gratitude. This can be done at any time, but it’s especially useful when you’re feeling down or angry about something in particular.
“I sometimes do it when something really annoying happens, or when I’m really angry, or I think life is unfair,” says Binnington. “Practising gratitude is a really good way of bringing you out of those negative feelings, because there is always something you can be grateful for.
“It will be very different for different people. It could simply be that you’re well enough to stand and make a cup of tea, or that you’ve got lovely friends. It doesn’t have to be something major, but you will instantly feel better.
“I’m not saying forget or push away why you are angry, upset or sad – they are equally important feelings – but it’s good to recognise both because sometimes our minds pull us towards the negative things. It’s a tendency many people have – to dwell on the same conversations or arguments – so breaking that habit to practise gratitude is a good way to level things out.”
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.