Public transport is rarely anybody’s ideal way to travel but it does have two major benefits that for most, outweighs all of the drawbacks – it’s cheap and it’s convenient. In London, particularly, it’s simply not practical for many people living in and around the city to drive, as the congestion is notoriously heavy at peak hours and the tube and bus services are so prolific.
However, whilst we might need to take public transport to live and work, many of us are simply not equipped to deal with it sometimes. With so many workers and tourists sharing a space, it’s a situation that can be fraught with stress. So, in an effort to help those that might find public transport daunting, we’ve collected a few top tipis to help take the stress out of the situation and help public transport feel like less of a chore.
For longer journeys (for example, in a train going from Watford Junction to Clapham Junction or a bus from Victoria Coach Station to Brighton) where you have designated seating, make sure you’ve printed any tickets you may need. Also, ensure that you know your seat reservation number and times for departure/arrival in advance. This way, there will be less frantic shuffling around checking your pockets and your bags and scanning through your phone. You can simply turn up, know exactly where you’re going and where you need to be.
Avoid rush hour
One of the greatest catalysts of stress is gigantic crowds of people and public transport in London is often riddled with just that. If possible, avoid peak travel times. Of course, this won’t always be possible (particularly if you work in the city) but if you are travelling for leisure, try either in the late morning, early afternoon or late evening when there will be less congestion on public services.
Distraction is a marvellous way to take your mind off the things that could be causing your stress. There is a good reason why so many people tend to take books on the tube as escaping into a good story can be a wonderful solution to blocking out the outside world. Your smartphone can also be a valuable gateway to entertainment – from games and news to news articles and more besides. Keep yourself entertained and you won’t have time to feel stressed!
Social anxiety is something that affects most of us at one point or another and it can be triggered quite powerfully by public transport. That means the final and perhaps most powerful thing you can do is to practice some simple mindfulness techniques if ever you’re feeling like it’s getting ‘too much’. Concentrate on your breathing, look out of the window and observe and make a note of what surrounds you or simply count the people on your carriage. They have probably felt the way you’re feeling at some point too so don’t be afraid of judgement. We’re only human, after all!