Opinion

Introduce some calm to your journey

28 Mar 2015 by GrahamSmith

Travel has long excited and stimulated our senses.

When first travelling for business, we get a buzz and a thrill from escaping the office, meeting new colleagues and seizing new opportunities.

But that early excitement can quickly fade if you find yourself missing your home and family, rushing to get to meetings on time and experiencing exhaustion from jostling through stations and airports.

If the journey is also spent worrying about that day’s presentation, or the prospect of having to do that journey all over again next week, then travelling for work can lead to unnecessary stress and anxiety.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way. More and more people are using mindfulness techniques to tackle the stress of travelling.

Mindfulness is a practice that wakes us up and enables us to become present in our everyday lives. It takes us out of autopilot and makes us better at responding, rather than reacting.

Over 500 science research papers were published last year alone, detailing the many benefits of mindfulness, from better sleep to improved memory and a stronger immune system.

You don’t have to be an expert, or a monk, to get into mindfulness though. There are a number of simple ways to make your travel time a lot calmer


Distract yourself

If you ever find yourself stressed when you’re running late, or irritated in an overcrowded carriage, try to distract yourself from those feelings by concentrating on the noises around you.

Notice the thoughts that arise, but let them pass by. Bring your concentration back to the noises around you — the voices of other passengers, music from headphones or the mechanical sounds of an engine or wheels on the track.

You’ll find that you won’t get irritated when you’re concentrating in this way.

Download a calming app

There is a lot of misunderstanding about meditation, but it’s a skill that can be learned by anyone and practised anywhere.

There are many apps that offer guided meditations to teach the basics. The Calm app offers a free week of a programme that takes only ten minutes each day (calm.com).

Downloading an app ahead of a trip and listening to it when waiting to board or collect your luggage will help you to stop anxiety taking hold.

Be a compassionate passenger

You can feel calmer on a journey by practising a simple meditation on compassion for yourself and others.

Start by thinking about being kind to others. Look at everyone around you without judgement and recognise that you all share the common goal of getting somewhere.

If another passenger is coughing or sneezing, rather than letting it annoy you, try to feel a sense of compassion for them. As you continue your journey with a compassionate attitude, you’ll find that it will change your mood and transform the rest of your day.

Stretch your legs

When you’re tired after a long journey, you may feel like you want to move as little as physically possible.

But if you walk or take the stairs, rather than stand on the travelator or take the lift, you’re likely to get an energy boost and restore your sense of calm.

Rediscovering the rush you first felt when travelling for work is not as hard as you think.

Being able to sit in a plane and gaze out of the window at the clouds below can transform time up in the air into a restorative break. A long drive where you can listen to classical music offers you a chance to improve your mood and regain your focus.

You could find that adopting a calmer approach to travelling will help you see your working world in a completely different way.


Read our contributor biography of Michael Acton Smith

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