Find time to meditate
You’ve probably heard about meditation mindfulness, and possibly come to the conclusion that it’s just another thing to fit into the day. But if your commute lends itself to it, 10 minutes could be enough.
Headspace is an online service offering guided sessions, and is used by employers such as Unilever and Google. A 2016 study in the Clinical Psychology Review suggests online mindfulness exercises can have a “small but significant beneficial impact on depression, anxiety, wellbeing and mindfulness”.
Hypnosis may also be worth trying. It doesn’t necessarily entail losing control of your faculties and being manipulated by Derren Brown, but achieving a relaxed state during which you become more suggestible to verbal cues. Some use it to change behaviours such as stop smoking or reduce anxiety.
While NHS advice says there isn’t strong evidence backing these uses, it admits “hypnosis does seem to have an effect, though scientists disagree about how it works”. If you don’t want to pay a practitioner to access the deepest recesses of your mind, you could sample some freely downloadable recordings on the internet.
Try some free association
For anyone whose commuting isn’t relaxing enough to find space for meditation, there are other ways to pass the time.
Free association will be a familiar concept to a lot of people but how many of you have actually tried it? The practice was pioneered by Sigmund Freud as one of the tools of psychoanalysis, where the aim was to get clients to say things as they came into their heads, regardless of logic or grammar, and then explore what the connections revealed about the unconscious mind and repressed memories.
That’s not why we’re suggesting you do it, of course. Rather, it’s because there’s a chance that you might happen upon associations that spark creative ideas, or help you gain a deeper understanding of your own thoughts and feelings.
It doesn’t matter how you do it – whether through speaking, typing or writing – the important thing is not to impose any conscious rules on the words you generate. Don’t go back and correct anything, or analyse as you go along, just move on to the next thought and look at the results later. We can’t guarantee anything useful will come of it, but it might make as much sense as anything you read in the Metro in the morning.