• PublishedApril 5, 2016

Life can be hectic. Even more so when you have to travel from point A to B for business or work and then rush home to prepare dinner for the family. Our now famous traffic jams in almost all major towns and cities are a nightmare most of us have to face almost every day of the week. By the time you arrive at your destination, you are so stressed and this is not good for your health or functioning, particularly being a woman with many other family responsibilities. Read on to find practical ways you can help yourself ease the stress…

Many people rate rush hour travelling as the biggest stress in their lives. And it doesn’t matter what means you use

to get to your place of work – personal car or public means – the roads are the same, totally congested. But your commute does not have to be the killer stress at dawn and sunset. You can transform your commute from stressed-out chaos to blissful ‘me time’ by using this time constructively, especially when you are not the driver.

Waiting for a matatu or being stuck in traffic jam can seem like a waste of your good life, but it need not be. Since when in such situations you can’t do anything much rather than complaining, cursing or getting anxiety palpitations, you can at least try to make this your perhaps only ‘me time’ of the day and bring some peace to yourself u1sing these three strategies.

Practice yogic breathing: Start your journey with a bit of yogic breathing. Close your eyes and place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. As you breathe deeply in, push your stomach out and keep your chest still. Hold it for a few seconds, and then slowly breathe out, sucking your abdomen in. Continue this, breathing in for a count of five, holding for five and breathing out for five. Repeat until you feel calm. You can continue doing this while on your journey but don’t try it if you are the driver! Ensure your personal belongings are safe before closing your eyes.

Meditate: Crowded public transport may not seem like the ideal environment for a spot of meditation, but actually you can use the noises, chaos, vibrations and delays as you commute to aid your meditation. Most people get stressed on the commute because they are trying to control a situation they have no control over. When the cars are bumper to bumper or not moving at all, you can do little. Even killing the policeman controlling the traffic or the matatu drivers who have caused the chaos will not help. Nor will cursing. Meditation brings perspective so you can control your reaction to stressful situations.

Begin by closing your eyes and placing your hands palm up in your lap. Take a deep breath in and imagine your body filling from head to toe with bright healing light. Then exhale and imagine expelling all your negative thoughts and stale energy. As you do this, ensure your personal belongings are safe otherwise you will give pickpockets a field day and, of course, add more stress to your life.

When you feel calm, take an extra deep breath in, hold, and then exhale fast and hard, thinking to yourself – “let go.” At that moment, imagine all your worries, thoughts and stresses vanishing from your body. Then just sit with an empty mind, letting the noises and chaos around you wash over you. If thoughts and noises start your mind whirring, just acknowledge them and let them float past.

Visualise: Use your commute time to psych yourself for the tasks ahead – the big meeting, presentation or completion of an assignment, with a dose of powerful visualisation. Our bodies respond to our dominant thoughts. When you imagine something, you create neural pathways in the brain so that when you are in that situation you have visualised, you naturally respond in the way you have imagined – as if you have done it before. Your brain can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what’s imagined.

Programme yourself by closing your eyes and picturing yourself as the star of a movie. Imagine a screen and watch yourself acting and being your very best in the situation you will be facing. Imagine the colours, sounds, smells and emotions and, as it crescendos and you get the fantastic feeling of performing at your peak, anchor the feeling by clenching your right fist as hard as you can.

Next, re-play the same movie in your mind, but this time don’t watch it – imagine yourself in it. Again, imagine every feeling and detail, making everything as bright, bold and wonderful as possible. When you reach the peak, clench that right fist again. You should find that later in the day, when you have your meeting or carry on a task such as a presentation, by clenching your fist, you can recreate those same positive feelings, helping you to be your best.

April 2016

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