Have you ever woke up tired, ran for your train or bus and just missed it, spilt coffee down your white work clothes, or forgot your lunch you spent all of the night before cooking? Me too. In fact, these inconveniences happen so often to me, that sometimes I’m convinced I’m cursed. And even when the smallest thing goes wrong in the morning, without a doubt you will find me walking into work grumpy AF (a mood that is not easy to get out of).
Not only does that negative mood lead to added stress, irritability and poor work performance for the rest of the day, it also inhibits me from fully enjoying lighter moments and positive connections in the office.
Upon realizing that how you spend your morning literally affects your entire workday, I decided to make the shift to make the most out of my morning commute, since it is unavoidable, and that way when I reach the office I know I’m set for a productive day.
Of course, we can’t control everything, like our physical surroundings (AKA getting stuck in traffic) or the actions of others (like sitting next to someone who talks way too loud on the train), but what we can do is take charge of our own actions and most importantly control our mindset.
In order to do just that, here are the best ways to boost your mood during the morning commute, whether you have had a smooth or bumpy start to the morning.
5 simple ways to improve your morning commute
1. Stay off social media
While this is easy for commuters who drive, it is probably one of the hardest habits to break for those who catch public transport every day. If you look around on public transport, you will most likely see masses of people with their eyes in their hands fixated on their phones. Some might be doing something productive, but most are probably endlessly scrolling their social media feeds.
Stalking pictures on Instagram of people travelling around the world is bound to have a negative impact on your mental wellbeing as you subconsciously compare yourself to them. And research has shown that obsessive social media use negatively affects our mental and emotional wellbeing.
While social media seemed like an easy way for me to pass the time in my morning travels, I started logging out of all social media apps the night before and limiting my use throughout the day. Within a week I had finished reading a book I had started on almost a year prior.
2. Set positive intentions
If your morning is filled with thoughts like, “I have way too much to do today” or “I really don’t want to get out of bed” this tip is really important for you.
While setting goals is great as it helps drive productivity, setting intentions in conjunction with goals is even better. Getting into the habit of setting a daily intention based on what will provide you with the most benefits for that particular day, will help psych you up about the workday ahead. It’s important to use positive language to set the tone for the rest of the day.
It can be as simple as “Today I will choose happiness”, or “Today I won’t sweat the small stuff”. You only have to hold onto that intention for one day, so it’s much more manageable than long-term goals. Writing your intention down while you’re on public transport or saying it aloud during your drive helps you gain clarity for the day.
3. Listen to a podcast or your favorite playlist
Nothing gets me motivated like a really good playlist or a super motivational podcast. Whether it’s your own perfectly curated playlist of songs or Spotify’s Morning Motivation mix, it has been proven that music boosts your mood which consequently bumps your productivity.
While music is a big part of my commute to work, some mornings when I’m craving something with a little more substance, podcasts are my go-to. They’re perfect to listen to on the way to work whether you’re driving, walking, or catching public transport.
Listening to my favourite productivity podcasts helps put me in the best mindset for the day, but picking whatever genre suits you will put you in the best mood. If you’re after something that uncovers the daily routines and secrets to success of inspiring, successful women, then look no further than our A Day In Progress podcast. It is full of productivity hacks and inspiring personal stories and will set the perfect tone for a workday.
4. Smile at someone
It’s crazy how something as simple as a smile can be SO powerful. Like when a stranger randomly smiles at you (in a genuine not creepy way) you immediately feel happier and forget why you were in a bad mood.
So when you partake in the physical act of smiling, it not only helps brighten others days, but it has also been proven to make you happy too. When your smile muscles contract they stimulate your brain’s reward system, in turn releasing endorphins and making you feel instantly happier.
If you catch public transport you likely have multiple opportunities each morning to smile at someone. If you’re driving or walking, make an effort to smile at a passerby on the street before getting to the office, even on the days when you don’t feel like it.
5. Get physical
Starting the day with some physical activity is known to have multiple benefits, and fitting it into your morning commute can be great for those who are short on time. While it might not be possible to walk or ride a bike the entire way to work, simple things such as getting off a stop earlier on public transport and walking to work from there can be really effective.
I personally try to walk to the bus stop before the hour-long trip to the office, instead of asking for a lift. The fresh air and sun do wonders for my mood, and even research has proved that physical activity leads to “greater levels of excitement and enthusiasm”.
Ultimately, your morning commute doesn’t need to be the source of daily frustration and anger. It IS possible to shift your perspective and turn a not-so-ideal situation (like commuting to work) into a valuable opportunity. Just remember you have complete control over your mindset each morning, no matter what life throws your way.
This article originally appeared on A Girl in Progress.
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