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Relax, it's rush hour; Here's how to really enjoy going to work.

TODAY'S lifestyles are so busy, we barely have any time on our own.

The journey from home to work may be the only part of the day we have to ourselves between busy jobs and a demanding family.

Unfortunately, a train delay, traffic jam or a bicycle tyre puncture can mean this valuable relaxing time is wasted.

Our stress-busting techniques will help you get to work - and home again - refreshed and in good spirits.

Getting to work is often a major source of anxiety, as well as being 'dead time' which could be used productively.

This doesn't mean starting work on the journey to the office - we already work longer hours that the rest of Europe. It involves doing something that will relax and energise you.

This will help you perform better at work, and you'll feel more balanced and be in a better mood when you get home.

So learn how to turn dead time into quality time - no matter how you travel.

BEING squashed on a commuter train or queuing for a bus is tedious and uncomfortable. But try to use this time, even if it's just a few minutes.

1. Crowded public transport calls for a relaxation technique that's invisible to others and doesn't involve deep lungfuls of stale air.

Progressive muscle relaxation can be done sitting or standing. Alternately tense and relax all major muscle groups, starting with your feet and ending with your face. By the end of the exercise, your body should feel relaxed.

Or try visualisation, which involves relaxing and allowing your inner thoughts to take you to a place of peace and pleasure.

You can also listen to relaxation exercises on a personal stereo. The Stress Management Training Institute does such a cassette. Visit their website at www.smti.org or phone them on 01983 868166.

2. Use your journey to broaden your mind. Many people read their newspaper on the way to work, and some find losing themselves in the crossword a great way to forget their travel woes. For others, commuting is the ideal time to read a novel.

3. Nip work worries in the bud by grossly exaggerating them. Imagine your boss attacking you with a water pistol the moment you enter the office. Now picture him or her growing horns.

The more vivid and absurd you make this exaggeration, the greater its power to reduce stress by making worries more silly than threatening.

And any real trouble you get into will seem mild in comparison.

YOU'RE late, the traffic jam seems to go on for ever and horns are blaring, but don't let the frustration get to you.

1. If you regularly get stuck in traffic this gives you time to listen to recorded books, available from all major bookstores. Or start an audio book club with friends and swap tapes.

2. Improve your mood. Some people need to release tension when they get held up in traffic, while others need a quick energy boost. Jin Shin Jyutsu, a Japanese therapy, can eliminate stress and fatigue.

To perk yourself up, hold the middle joint of the left middle finger between your right thumb and fingers for a few minutes. Repeat on the other hand.

To calm and revitalise, hold the fourth and fifth fingers of your left hand between the thumb and fingers of your right hand. Hold for a few minutes and repeat on your other hand.

Caution: Do these exercises only when traffic is at a standstill.

A good aromatherapy blend for alertness is 14 drops of juniper, eight drops of pine and eight drops of rosemary. Blend before you set out and pour a few drops on a tissue to sniff when you need an energy boost.

3. Avoid conflict. Britain is now the road rage capital of Europe, with 80 per cent of drivers claiming to have been victims of some form of road rage.

The AA advises you to get in the right frame of mind before you set off. Be determined not to succumb to road rage, or let 'liberty takers' get to you.

Remember that most annoying moves by other drivers are probably quite unintentional.

Put yourself in the position of the other driver. The things that get to you, tailgating and cutting in at roadworks, get to other drivers, too.

Don't show your frustration by making gestures.

Avoid eye-contact with an aggressive driver. It can be seen as confrontational.

Keep the car doors and boot locked.

FOR fitness, body shape and energy levels, you can't beat walking or cycling to work. If this is impractical, then take public transport some of the way, leaving a half an hour walk at the end.

1. Make your walk to work a workout. A brisk 30-minute walk will boost fitness and improve circulation. Invest in a good pair of trainers and always start with a stretch. If your office has a dress code, allow time for changing once you get to work.

2. Walking to work is a great time to rev yourself up for the rest of the day and send positive messages to your subconscious.

The pep-talk should be realistic. So, rather than telling yourself: "I'm the greatest and I can achieve anything," try thinking: "I can make my work interesting and stimulating".

3. Make your cycle ride safe and stress-free. Regular aerobic exercise such as cycling can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, but cycling in heavy traffic could stress you out if you don't feel confident and safe.

For cycle routes in your area, visit www.sustrans.org.uk, or telephone 0117 929 088.

Ask your local authority whether it has a buddy cycling scheme, which allows you to try out your route accompanied by a more experienced cyclist.

Wear a proper helmet, and make sure your cycle is in good working order.
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Copyright 2000 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 15, 2000
Words:975
Previous Article:THE THREE-STEP GUIDE TO CHILLING OUT, WHEREVER YOU ARE.
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