Kristen Sunstrum, Solutions Expert at Dialogue, shares her top tips on how commuters can boost their productivity and create a more productive work-life balance.
In the last year, average ratings of personal wellbeing in the UK have declined across all measures in the year ending March 2023. Workers are especially guilty of not switching off from thinking about work during their weekends, and employees are looking for ways to prioritise their wellbeing. There is a clear need for better wellbeing practices in and outside the workplace, and without such, many could be at risk of additional stress, poorer mental health and wellbeing, and ultimately burnout.
Employees are looking for ways to improve. Workplace wellbeing provider Dialogue enables employees to benchmark their wellbeing, after which they can start a trackable healthy habit . Internal data suggest that the top healthy habits employees are implementing, as well as the resources they are consulting, relate to stress management and nutrition.
An often discounted time in which we can prioritise our wellbeing is our commute time. According to a recent study, the average time spent travelling to and from work in the UK is 59 minutes per day. More specifically, Londoners face the sixth-longest commute times in the world, as people spend on average 47 minutes on their commute each way, making up approximately one hour and a half of travelling per office day.
Many commuters can be found scrolling through phones on endless social media apps, which raises the question of should people be doing more to make the most of their time? By having a more productive commute and using the time to prioritise mental health and wellbeing, it puts it at the top of the agenda before the working day has even begun.
Kristen Sunstrum, Solutions Expert at Dialogue, a workplace wellbeing platform, shares her top tip for boosting productivity during a commute: habit stacking. This is the practice of attaching a new habit to a time or a routine that is already established, which can increase chances of committing to a habit as it helps you repeat the action at the same time and place.
Here are a few stackable habits which can increase wellbeing during your commute:
- Sneaking in a healthy snack or breakfast: Having a balanced breakfast can help provide us with optimal energy levels throughout the day and even reduce stress. For example, cortisol, a stress hormone, peaks first thing in the morning. A breakfast with complex carbohydrates and protein may bring these levels down, stabilize energy levels, and promote focus.
- Listen to mindfulness podcasts: This is a simple way to boost productivity, no matter whether people are commuting in the car or on public transport. Mindfulness podcasts can bring a sense of calm and clarity, which helps us better manage moments of stress.
- Read wellbeing articles: By reading wellbeing articles on the commute, this frees up time on the weekend, leading to less burnout and stress. Additionally, our brains need to be kept active in order to stay healthy and reading is a great exercise for the mind.
- Self-led mental health modules: resources such as internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy (iCBT) – self-guided training which has proven effectiveness for preventing and reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, and which is included in wellbeing programmes such as Dialogue’s. Some people prefer this to provider-led therapy, as it allows them to learn skills to manage and improve their mental health at their pace and on their own time.
- Grounding techniques: Practising a grounding technique by focusing on your 5 senses. Find one thing you can hear, see, smell, touch, and taste. Then, take a minute to focus on your breathing and acknowledge these senses together to bring awareness to your surroundings and the moment.