We spend a scary amount of time to-ing and fro-ing between work and home. Instead of reserving that time for road rage, stressing about time and/or standing way too close to a stranger on the train, why not use your commute to do a little self-improvement:
Get into podcasts
Everyone loves a good podcast because you’re being entertained while learning something, and it’s all hands-free. Here are our picks for the best podcasts in the cyber airwaves RN to:
- Learn about space: if you already have a weird crush on Neil deGrasse Tyson because of his tweets, you need to listen to Star Talk Radio where he makes learning about science stuff fun and interesting.
- Save money on a magazine subscription: if you are left wanting more after reading an article in The New Yorker, you’re in luck. Their podcast explores and elaborates on some of their favourite pieces, and it’s free to listen to.
- Learn about random things you never knew you never knew: ‘99% Invisible’ is all about explaining quirks about the world you didn’t think twice about before. We love this one about the infamous Ponte City Tower in Johannesburg.
- Start your own business: do you spend your days fantasising about leaving your 9-5 and venturing into entrepreneurship, but just don’t know how? Local entrepreneur Mashudu Modau has a podcast series on start-ups and entrepreneurship, specifically in Africa, to talk you through becoming your own boss. He’s so passionate about helping start-ups you can even submit your business proposal to him directly through his site, or he can link you up with people and resources which will be able to assist you in growing your business or navigate the world of start-ups!
- if you’re really into music, you will definitely want to give Between The Liner Notes a listen and learn all about music: it’s perfect for music nerds and/or anyone who has ever wondered how DJing became a thing, why jingles work or the origins of the song ‘Happy Birthday’.
- Keep it local: funny man Simmi Areff is attempting to fill the huge gap in the market for hilarious South African podcasts, and he’s doing a good job. Listening to an episode of Lesser Known Somebodies feels like hanging out with friends if you’re friends with the likes of Siv Ngesi and Aisha Baker.
- Change your life: sometimes a good TED Talk can be so powerful that by the end of it you’re a vegan (or, at the very least, slightly inspired to be one). While the talks are generally intended to be watched, the kind people at TED have created a playlist of talks suitable to be listened to as a podcast. You can learn how to nail the art of conversation, how to unlock your inner creative genius, how to go undercover in North Korea (finally!) and a whole lot more.
According to Happify, an app that’s all about finding ways for people to build their own happiness using science-based methods, the happiest commuters are those who ride a bike to work. The second happiest are people who are passengers and the third happiest is the actual driver of the car. If you don’t live too far from work, then definitely look into biking it. It will save you tons of money on petrol plus it has been shown to reduce stress and improve your concentration, all while getting some light exercise in.
Learn a new language
If you often think of your travel time as wasted time then use it to do something productive. You don’t have to go to evening classes if you want to learn a new language any more – there’s an app for that. Download Duolingo and you’ll quickly learn vocabulary and sentence structure via a cute cartoon owl in a range of languages including Spanish, Swahili, Italian and even Welsh if you’re in the mood to learn a language you’ll probably never get to use.
Read a book
The benefits of reading include improving your vocabulary, your empathy, your memory and your productivity (but reading a long AF thread on Twitter doesn’t count, sorry). Physically reading a book isn’t always possible on your commute, though – sometimes looking at the road ahead of you takes priority. Luckily there is an audiobook version of pretty much every book on earth. Don’t know where to start? The Harry Potter series read by Stephen Fry is a timeless classic.
Find your Zen
Meditating doesn’t have to involve a gong, a yoga mat and you sitting cross-legged. You can do it wherever you can close your eyes (so this one might not be an option if you’re driving). The app Calm has a whole section dedicated to commuting meditations, ranging from a few minutes to an hour an a half. Using public transport can have an extremely un-Zen effect on your mental state, so this a great way to take some time to calm your brain, focus your mind and switch off from the bustle around you.
Talk to a stranger
If you regularly take public transport you probably stick to the unwritten rule that you never, ever engage with someone while on the train, bus or taxi. Because what could be more agonising than talking to a stranger, right? An interesting study shows that almost everyone has the mindset that talking to someone you don’t know wouldn’t be enjoyable, however in practice a huge majority of people are pleasantly surprised when they actually tried it out. Connecting with others is proven to increase your happiness, and it doesn’t have to be a deep meaningful conversation about the government. Try a compliment, a question about what they’re reading, or the fail-safe classic: the weather.
Make like James Corden and carpool
Drivers are the most stressed out of all the commuters so create a carpool with your coworkers to take the heat off you every other day or so. Being a passenger is more relaxing as you don’t have to be so alert or deal with traffic directly, plus you get to control the music. Did someone say carpool karaoke?
Get your steps in
Being active is always a good thing, even if it’s just a 10-minute walk. Park further away, get off one bus stop earlier or take the stairs instead of the lift. It might add a few minutes onto your commute but in the long run, your heart and blood pressure will thank you. Also if you have a fitness tracker you need to get your step count up if you want to achieve your daily step goals!
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