Saturday, October 13, 2012

The life of a commuter

This is a guest post from Very Marie.  Jodie is enjoying a well deserved break in the US.

I am a commuter. I spend close to four hours a day travelling to and from work by car and train.

This is a choice. For a whole range of reasons - family, friends, comfort, location - my husband and I have decided to live in our beachside hometown and travel to the city for work.

I need to remember it's a choice, because some days, it is so hard.

Like in winter when for months I leave in darkness and come home in darkness. When public transport and long hours drain my immune system and I regularly feel germy and fluey. When my routine of having to go to bed early to wake up at dawn means the concept of exercise, hobbies and a Monday to Friday social life is non existent. When the travel and long hours mean I am often left feeling completely, don't know how I can keep going, want to curl up and sleep, will burst into tears in any moment, exhaustion.

A lot people ask me how I can commute and I know I'm not the only one who does it, so I wanted to share some of the little coping mechanisms I have discovered to get me through each week.

1) Routine. As boring as that word is to even write, it is the key to effective commuting. You need a routine for bedtime, for waking up, for breakfast, for what time to drink your morning coffee and when you'll brush your teeth. You need a routine for groceries and cooking and packing your lunch. Because I warn you, any deviation from this weekday schedule can leave you feeling immensely a) tired, b) hungry c) unhealthy d) all of the above.

2) A relatively flexible job. Thankfully I can usually leave work between 530 and 6pm, working the rest of the afternoon on my blackberry. The flexibility means I am getting home in time to eat and sleep at a reasonable hour. I am also entitled to a flex day (or mental health day as I fondly call them) once every six weeks or so, which is crucial for me and allows me to do weekday chores, sleep, and take some time out.  

3) The strength to say no. I am not very good at this, but when so much of your week is consumed with work and travel, you need to find the inner strength to say no. No I can't come to that afternoon meeting, I need to catch the train. No I can't come to dinner tonight, I'm exhausted.  No I can't come to after-work drinks because if I get home late on a school night I may not be able to keep going this week. I am still working on the 'no' but it truly is essential to surviving the commute.

4) Finding the little things that get you through. For me it's reading blogs and articles on the train to keep me inspired, leaving work early one day a week to go to yoga to keep me sane, listening to my favourite cd on the way home from work to keep me awake... writing on my way to work, listening to breathing exercises on my iPhone... Whatever it is, you need a list of things to do during the week that keep you energised, inspired and positive.

5) Weekends. When it all feels worth it. These two precious days by the beach when I can sleep in, wander down the road for breakfast, leave the house in ugg boots, visit family and friends. Forget work, forget the city and enjoy the stillness, the familiarity and the quiet.

And when Monday rolls around again, and the thought of travelling all that way to work in the cold and the dark feels so overwhelming, I need to remind myself that the weekends make it worth it. That it's a choice.

What choices do you struggle with?

(Image via pinterest) 

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