Faking a Commute Could Be Exactly What Your Brain Needs Right Now

published Jan 4, 2021
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Businesswoman Disinfecting Hands with Hand Sanitizer During Pandemic in city. She is Wearing Protective Face Mask.
Credit: Morsa Images | Getty Images

When the pandemic first put the world on hold and forced most commuters off the bus and into a new work-from-home routine, there were some small benefits. The idea of being able to work in your PJs from the comfort of your own couch definitely had potential. But now, being nearly a year into this routine, you might find yourself missing the things you once took for granted (or even disliked). 

If you find yourself missing the daily grind, faking your old commute could be the jumpstart you need to get back into a positive headspace.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, getting outside is a simple yet effective way to curb symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even poor memory. Harvard Health reports that a 2015 study found that healthy people who walked for 90 minutes in a natural setting had lower activity in their prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain that is active during “rumination,” defined as repetitive thoughts that focus on negative emotions.

Though this study found that walking in nature is more beneficial than walking in urban areas, the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) reports that exposing yourself to sunlight, even for a brief period of 20 minutes or so, can help reduce the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

So, knowing the positive effects of getting up and outside, you can improve your pandemic day-to-day by recreating your walk to work (or creating a new commute) before your work hours begin. As Bustle notes, you can make this “fake commute” more enjoyable than it was before by bringing along a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, listening to a calming playlist, or participating in a pre-work meditation. As long as you’re wearing a mask and keeping socially distant from other “commuters,” you’re doing it right.

Yes, we may have taken our commute for granted. But now, we have the opportunity to adjust our mindset about our daily route to work and make it into something that can benefit our mental health while we’re working from home.