5 Tips for Train Travelling Wellbeing
Train travel is a great alternative to driving or flying. You can get up and walk around the carriage as a regular movement break. There is no altitude for the body to acclimate and potentially get more dehydrated. Overall, it’s just a bit less stressful. However, when you are a train commuter train travel can take on a different experience.
When I was a London lawyer, I commuted two hours each way to my long days so that I could enjoy the seaside lifestyle. The reality was more like a sleep-deprived zombie that collapsed on the train, opened my laptop and made use of the extra hours to work.
How can you help yourself if you’re a train commuter? Here are five tips to keeping well whilst train commuting.
Constantly being surrounded by people in a long day of train commuting can feel like there is never any personal space. Train commuters can be very sociable and very quiet, but either way the packed cattle on a carriage impacts the mental state of feeling space around us.
Try this simple meditation practice to sense space in and around you:
Feet on the floor of the train carriage
Sit bones on the seat of the train carriage
Shoulders resting over the heart space
Head weightless lengthening spine tall
We often used references to ‘cattle train’ as a negative experience where all the cows are squashed on a train so tight that their distress is clearly seen in their breath and cries for help. Many squished bodies is naturally anxiety inducing (unless your a King Penguin in Antarctica) Humans in their civilised behaviours internalise this anxiety generating experience.
Breath work can support this feeling of stress. The exhale is a calming breath for the nervous system and encourages a rest and digest response. Make use of the time on the train for some relaxing breath work.
Try this exercise to let go of the day’s stresses and prepare for a nice welcome to you arrival destination.
Breath in for half the counts of each exhale.
A good starting number is 3 count inhale: 3 count exhale.
Extend this for longer periods as it becomes more comfortable.
Visualisations can clear and reset the emotion and expectations that we hold. This is through the Reticular Activation System in the brain that is connected to the sleep-wake cycle that integrates how we create the life that we want.
A train journey may not reset the reality of the commute or day at work, but embrace your loved ones at home is important. So use this approach to clear the mind and dream of the next part of the day making you smile.
By visualising the day or evening ahead as a positive experience, or even the past unravelled into how you would like it to have played out shifts the nervous system to down-regulate and clears the mind to a more open and receptive state (ie positive mindset).
Try this visualisation:
Select a specific outcome for the next stage of the day.
Daydream how you would like it to unfold.
Visualise the experience and how it feels to enjoy the situation. Allow time to digest this and feel it as true.
Consider one visual cue to remind you of the positive feelings.
Return to the visual cue throughout the day when losing that positive feeling.
Or listen to this yoga nidra on the train journey on the way home. Unravel and let go of the day.
4. Neck Mobilisation
Seats may not be available on the train if it busy, so sometimes finding something to do standing is a trick. Neck mobilisation can be done seated or standing, and without the arms if the train is busy.
Try these exercises to ease the neck tension of long days seated and staring at screens. The trick with these is to breathe into the area of the stretch to deepen in. Gentle and slow movements are best to really work all through the cervical spine (neck).
Hands are not needed for these stretches but can intensify the sensations.
Rotation - turn the head to side trying to keep chin parallel to floor
Tilts - drop ear to shoulder without moving the torso or other shoulder
Front - chin to chest whilst keeping shoulders down
Lift chin & jaw movements - look up and move the jaw to help release
Armpit sniffs - side and down towards the armpit, play with the angle
Neck rolls - gentle rolling around of the head on the neck. Be careful with rolling back as the head is heavy on the neck.
5. Ankle Mobilisation
The ankles are vital for all mobility and their instability can have a knock on effect through the rest of the body. A train ride can be a good opportunity to mobilise and strengthen the ankles.
If seated then try some more gentle work into the ankles: (pics)
Point and Flex the ankle
Toe exercises - scrunch and separate
Ankle drops in and out
If there isn’t a seat on the train then try these simple standing ankle movements:
Surf the train
Ball of foot press
Small circles standing (move weight around the feet)
Gentle knee bends (not to look like you’re exercising)
1 foot balance
After the Train Travel Sequence
After the journey enjoy this simple sequence to connect back into the full body and open the chest:
Reach arms to sky to stretch & open the torso
Side bends standing - hands can be behind the head or long to sky
Balance on feet - shift weight side to side of feet, then forwards & back
As shift weight forwards & back start to bend the knees and squat to rise on balls of feet (add arms swings if comfortable to)
Lunge side to side - add gentle arms swings and rotation to bent knee if the knees are ok. Make sure that the knee goes over 2/3 toes when it bends
Wide plie with 2 options:
stay centre & press arms wide to sides, point fingers to sky to stretch forearms
rotate chest side to side keeping hips still to open shoulder girdle & spine
Walk throughs on feet to ease ankles & cross-swing arms
Quadricep stretch balance (hold onto support if needed) . Knees together, draw tail towards floor.