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Health and Fitness

Make Your Morning Commute Count: Stimulate Your Brain Before Work

by Carla Cain Walther Published on 21 March 2014

The commute to work can be a struggle, especially if you're pressed up against the doors of the train, dodging people's sneezes or sitting in never-ending traffic. It's easy to carry that stress and irritation into the workplace but we've found ways you can redirect your focus and make that unavoidable travel time productive.

We can totally relate if you think the worst part of working nine to five is the daily commute. When thousands of other people are heading in the same general direction as you, ignoring the inevitable annoyances can be almost impossible. But don't focus on all that negative energy - you'll carry it with you into the office and risk making silly mistakes. Below we've suggested a number of activities that will wake up your body and your brain! Time to make your commute count.

Solve crossword puzzles

Instead of staring into space, cursing your 8 a.m. start, try spending that time solving a challenging crossword! Crosswords increase your vocabulary, giving you a genuine understanding of how to use them correctly. And as your vocab improves, you'll become a better communicator at work and in your personal life.

Play brain training apps

Adding fun apps to your phone that boost your brain power can make your half-hour ride whizz by! More importantly, playing math games and logic games will improve your problem-solving. We recommend WikiHunt, Lumosity, and PuzzleManiak but the iTunes store is full of other great apps. It's not playing, it's brain powering.

Meditate during your ride

It's easy to get distracted - and angry at random people - if you take public transport to work, but honestly, it's the perfect setting for truly mastering the art of meditation! Learning how to drown out other people is a skill that you can apply in many areas of your life.

If you're lucky enough to snag a seat, sit down, close your eyes and turn your attention onto your breathing. You can also do this standing up too, but sitting is ideal. Count to a number between breaths; the steady breathing will help in keeping your focus on seeking out a small slice of serenity before a day filled with meetings and excel sheets.

Complete a writing exercise

The iTunes app store is chock-full of creative writing apps that'll inspire your next award-wining story or poem. Well, at least one that'll wow your friends. Your writing skills and ability to creatively think outside the box will increase tenfold We know both of those qualities are important for being successful at your job! And if your commute is a long one then you may be able to finish that novel you've been telling everyone about!

Listen to classical music

Commuting can be a HUGE stress-inducer. Delayed trains and road rage from other drivers can heighten your anxiety and quickly turn a new day into a bad one. Tune out potential stresses by listening to classical music. The soothing notes will decrease your anxiety, leaving you refreshed and ready to tackle your To Do List.

Take a sunrise yoga class

Getting up even earlier than you have to might be a struggle but exercising in the morning gets your blood flow circulating and stimulates your brain. A four-minute Tabata workout is a quick and effective way to begin the day with an alert mind.

Write a letter to a friend or family member

No, don't draft an email. Take out a pen and paper and do it the old school way. Similar to completing a writing exercise, jotting down a letter is an easy way to boost your writing skills and it's an unexpected pick me up for your lucky recipient!

Listen to a funny podcast

Laughter does so much good for the body AND the brain. In his book, Emotional Intelligence, Psychologist Daniel Goleman claims that "laughter[..]helps people think more broadly and associate freely." Ask Me Another and Pop Culture Happy Hour are funny NPR podcasts that will you get you laughing and will get others asking what you're listening to.

How do you keep your brain fit and active in the morning? Let us know! Tweet us @sofeminineUK

by Carla Cain Walther

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