Taking Back My Commute

When I was looking for my first RD job, I looked throughout all of Connecticut.  My thought process was something along the lines of, “Oh everything is within about an hour of everything else.” WRONG.  It was more the fact that if it was more than an hour away, we never bothered.

It was that idea that led me to my current position in Norwalk (which I do love).  Now, from New Britain it was 1 hour 15 according to Google, but in reality with traffic, construction and delays, allowing 2 hours every morning and evening was far more practical.  As my co-workers are well aware, having that type of commute with unpredictable drivers can be frazzling and really start your day on the wrong foot.

Well in the last  month I moved down to the shoreline.  I am still by no means close to my job, but I have stumbled upon an amazing alternative:

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION!!!

Train Collage

 

I have been taking the commuter rail for the past month or so and it has changed my days so much, for the better.  I have to leave my house a little earlier but it pretty much takes the same amount of time.  Here are some of my observations from this experience.

Commuting time can be productive…or not.

While driving, I did my best to make the most of my time.  I had books on tape, listened to NPR and used the time to chat with friends and family, using a hands free device of course.  But I was still pretty limited.  Most people weren’t available to talk at the right time, and because my drive was so long, I heard the same news over and over.  Now I can read a book or magazine, text, jot down to do lists, blog or nap! I still don’t have a smart phone and the train doesn’t have wi-fi so I can just type and upload later, without the facebook/instagram/tumblr/buzzfeed temptation.  I recently reviewed a book for the Women’s Health DPG and was able to read and write it on my commute.

Stress can just ruin your day

Every morning I would have to choose which route to take, based on traffic, and I always seemed to choose wrong.  Especially close to NY, traffic piles up just because and it is incredibly difficult to predict.  If I was cutting it close, I would beat myself up for taking 95 and not the Merritt (or vice verse).  Being on the edge of your seat for 2 hours before your work day even begins is exhausting.  Now, I live by the train schedule which may fluctuate 6 minutes (rather than an hour).  I can plan on that and I know I will get to work on time.  So for those 2 hours, I don’t even have to think about it, focusing my energies on more enjoyable topics.

Traffic
On my way to the train, I get to watch all the traffic that I am NOT stuck in. #gratifying

I love casual social interaction

Driving, I saw my roommates in the morning, my coworkers during the day (all 6 of them) and roommates at night.  All great people, but its nice to mix it up.  I have already  made friends with a platform conductor who is a ray of sunshine, especially when its raining.  I have also had interesting conversations with others on the train and have overheard some very intriguing stories.  I also get to see new clothing trends sported by fellow professionals.  So much more stimulation, in a good way.  This gives the opportunity to tell a good story when I’m home or when I get to work, rather than talking about the jerk that cut me off.

Train People

Physical Fitness doesn’t only happen at the gym

The train station is about 1.5 miles from my office and I have the time so I just walk and track with my FitBit. There are well kept side walks the whole way, it’s safe and is an opportunity to get some steps in!  With such a long commute, exercising had been a challenge and I am so happy that I was able to build it into my day.  Timing forces a brisk pace and I end up getting about 1 hour of physical activity in per day (round trip). My average steps jumped from about 4,000 to 15,000.  Not too shabby.  To make this a bit more manageable, I wear sneakers and leave my nice (but not so practical) shoes at the office.  I also have an umbrella, deodorant and spray on sunscreen in my bag at all times, the necessities.

Fit Bit Dashboard

I missed the great outdoors

Prior to my job, I had never been to Norwalk before.  And after work, I had no motivation to go exploring.  Now, I walk through a huge chunk every day and am getting acquainted with its shops, parks and residents.  I can actually tell clients how to get to grocery stores and healthy restaurants.  It is so revitalizing to get fresh air, see the trees and flowers blooming and enjoy the smell of fresh cut grass in the mornings.

Norwalk Collage

I think the most important thing that this has taught me is that you are able to change your circumstances.  If there is a part of your day or your life that gives a lot of stress and aggravation, step back and re-evaluate.  You may be able to make a modest change that has a pretty great impact.  I would say that mentally, I am doing much better.  I am happier and more relaxed which I sure translates to a more pleasant person to live and work with!

What healthy changes have you made to your daily routine?