Are you a Mindful Commuter?

There’s a reason society coined the term “road rage”. Put a rational, sane and well-balanced person behind the wheel of a car, stick them in traffic within a shoddy infrastructure… then multiply this by 45,000 across Galway city and you’ve a recipe for disaster.

Yet for many of us, this is how our working day starts and ends. Sitting alone in our cars, dropping f-bombs because that dope in front was too busy texting to see the lights change and now they’ve gone back to red. So you sit there like a caged lunatic, muttering and gesticulating – half-hoping the dope will see you, get out and confront you – because this rage has to have an outlet, right?

The bad news here is that we have no idea how long it will be before the proposed plans (and re-designs, and new plans) to improve Galway’s traffic infrastructure are implemented.

The good news, though, is that WE can all be part of the solution. Now before you start shouting at your screen saying “YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND – I NEED MY CAR!!”, let’s figure out who really suffers because of this situation.

It’s us.

The general population.

You and the people sitting left-and-right of you in the office. You and the other floorstaff. You and your family. You and your friends who hardly see each other these days because you’re so busy, and sometimes it’s just easier to stay in work late than to sit in traffic.

But we’re not helpless – we’re not slaves to our situations, because there is always something – some action, some decision – we can do or make that can improve our circumstances. Of course, I’m not saying it’s easy, but we always have options. And taking some time to consider how we get to and from work and how our kids get to school in an already over-stressed day is really worthwhile.

On May 30th, we’ve decided to get Galway involved in an initiative called The Mindful Commute. The Mindful Commute is one day where we all make the effort to have 1 less single-occupancy car on the road. This could mean carpooling, cycling, getting your school to do a Walking Train, walking, taking the bus… whatever effort you can make to try and reduce the number of single occupancy cars on the road for that day.

And the benefits are huge – not only on the roads, but within ourselves too. You’d be surprised by how different you can feel if you change your commuting habits.

I regularly cycle to work (ahem, smug much?), but I also drive if I need to. And the difference in my stress levels, energy and engagement in work is amazing. On cycling days I’m much more productive, and also fully awake by the time I get to the office.

I also get to work on time!

So if you’d like to join us on May 30th, check out the Facebook page “The Mindful Commute Galway” for more details.
We’d love to have you involved.

Read on below for the different commuting options, and how they can benefit you.

Mindful Commute

Cycling or Walking

Of course, cycling or walking to work isn’t an option for everyone – especially if you have to commute from outside the city. But if it’s feasible for you, it’s a great option to improve your commute. And remember, many companies offer the Bike To Work scheme, where you can buy a bike tax-free and pay it off as a deduction to your pay check over a period of time. So you’ll almost feel like you got a free bike! And below are a few other benefits to using your own steam to get to work:

– It’s great for your health and fitness
– It can help release stress
– You can get your exercise done as part of your work day
– You are setting a good example for your kids about being active
– Of course, it’s also an environmentally friendly way to get around

Although this one may not be your cup of tea (and I know that the service in Galway is questionable at least), it really is a viable option for many. And of course, hopping on public transport has plenty of benefits too:

– At peak traffic time, it is often faster than driving
– You can have a nap/read a book/watch something on your phone (legally), which means you don’t have the “wasted” time you might spend in the car
– You can people-watch (and judge if you like)
– You might even meet the person of your dreams, like a real-life Tinder!

Of all the possibilities, I think car pooling is one that would suit those commuting from outside the city. As a nation, we are really married to the idea of having our own car and our own independence at all times. I think it’s a cultural thing – I work in a multicultural environment, and many other nationalities don’t have this desire. Now this doesn’t mean that you have to car share every day of the week, but even 1 day can week can make a difference. And – surprise, surprise – there are more benefits to this option:

– You can play fun games like carpool karaoke, carpool quiz (check out The Mindful Commute Galway facebook page for some ideas), or “guess who farted”…
– It’s good for the pocket too as it’s cheaper than going by yourself in the car, and you can share the burden of driving
– You make some great friends – because let’s face it, there’s no better way to get to know someone than to stick them in a metal box with 1-3 other people for 30-60 minutes
– It’s company on the lonely car journey and someone to chat to about the stresses of the day.

You can’t underestimate that last point. Because although we mightn’t think that commuting on your own is lonely, it is. It’s a time when we can overthink things, get enraged at small inconveniences, start mindlessly looking at social media if you’re stuck in traffic… And with mental health so much to the forefront these days, I think we should consider all the ways that we can keep our minds in good working order, as well as our bodies.

So remember to check out the Facebook page The Mindful Commute Galway for additional info, prizes, competitions and ideas.
And use May 30th to be a Mindful Commuter.