How to cut stress on your commute

The U.K.’s small and medium sized firms make up 99.9% of the UK’s private sector businesses, employ nearly three-fifths of its workforce and account for 48% of the turnover. But full-on pursuit of commercial success may be putting owners and employees of these businesses at increased risk of ill health and burnout. Described as a type of stress, office burnout can manifest itself as a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.

Unfortunately, long working hours are often embedded into SME culture. According to our recent research*

  • 47% of employees in SMEs across the UK said they regularly work 4 or more hours of overtime per week
  • 29% of these put in 7 or more hours
  • For half (52%), the extra hours are unpaid

In addition:

  • Over half (54%) of employees have continued to work after putting children to bed
  • 27% have cancelled family time and 19% have missed a child’s event such as a school play
  • 21% of employees take fewer than 30 minutes for lunch

Watch this short animation, to help employers spot the signs of burnout, in your staff or yourself.

How to reduce stress on your commute

According to research conducted by the TUC, the average daily commute now sits at 58 minutes, meaning that people are spending 27 working days a year commuting to work.  According to the same research, the number of commuters travelling over 2 hours to work has increased by 34% over the last 10 years. Whether you travel to work by train or car, it will come as little surprise that the stress of commuting can have a negative impact on your mental health. One report stated that half of commuters say that the commute increases their stress levels and over one third say that the commute decreases the amount of time that they spend sleeping.

Although external factors such as train delays and roadworks are as unavoidable as the commute itself, there are ways that you can make your commute less stressful.

If you commute by train…

  • Put your phone on airplane mode. If you commute by train, it can be tempting to continuously check your emails during the journey. However, this can lead to the commute feeling more stressful as it extends your working day. You can avoid this by utilising the airplane mode feature on your phone. This allows you to continue listening to music on your phone without being bombarded by email notifications and messages throughout your journey.
  • Download a mindfulness app. Practising mindfulness during your train journey can be a great way to unwind after a day’s work and is also a good way to distract yourself from your commute. There are lots of great mindfulness apps out there, including Headspace and Calm. You could try out a few different apps to find out which one works best for you.
  • Read. Reading a book can help you to de-stress on your commute by distracting you from your journey and immersing you in another world. If you struggle to find the motivation to read, you could set yourself a reading challenge to encourage yourself to read a certain number of books each month.
  • Check before you travel. If you regularly travel by train, you’ve probably faced train delays at some point during your commuting life. Although train delays often can’t be avoided, checking your journey before setting off can help you to spot any potential delays to your journey.
  • Write a to-do list. If you struggle to unwind on your train journey home after a long day at work, you could use the time to write a to-do list for the following day. This could help you to relax once you get home as you will have planned out your tasks for the next day, meaning that you won’t have to worry about them all evening.
  • Change your shoes. This might sound like a strange tip but changing into some comfy shoes when you leave the office for your commute home can help to make the journey more comfortable, which could help to reduce stress.

For more information on ways to reduce burnout and stress, please visit AXA PPP healthcare. 

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