Small Changes to support overall health & well-being.

Picture by Phyllis Chisala

I live on the east side of the city but work on the south west part of the city. I don’t drive to work. I use the underground train (Tube) to get to work, and my journey from home to work takes approximately one hour and fifty minutes. Before the corona virus pandemic hit the scene, I used to leave home at a particular time, and this meant taking the tube at the time when it was very busy. Masks were only known to nurses at the time. The trains get jam-packed and sometimes it would be difficult to get a seat. There would be no other option but to stand until a certain station where most people change to another line. Due to overcrowding, passengers stand less than a meter apart, and if they sneezed or talked, their droplets end up on another person’s clothes or body. Since the then unknown corona virus appeared on the scene, and it being so virulent, it became so scary to make these Monday to Friday journeys. I had three options to consider in mitigating the risk of catching the virus; risk catching the virus by continuing to travel at the same time, or drive to work, or sacrifice my sleep and start leaving home earlier than I normally would, in order to catch the tube before busy times. I chose the latter option. When I did, the first thing I noticed was the quietness on the tube. Very few people were on my new scheduled train. I was loving it because I now had a peace of mind.

Then the lockdown came, it was even better for me, but I still continued to leave home early.

After the lockdown, transport went back to normal as before. The currently fewer cases of COVID 19 , according to government figures, have relaxed the restrictions that were put on public transport and I am now leaving home at a later time like I did before the Corona virus wave.

Trains are again getting busier with relaxed government guidelines. Although wearing face masks on public transport is mandatory, some people don’t just get it! They ride the tube with no face covering. Some even chat away carelessly. This has started to bother me and I have been getting upset each time I get on a jam-packed train. I have no control over who gets on the trains, but I do have control over what I do and how I feel. My being upset is wasted because it won’t change anything unless I do. I have decided to go back to leaving home early. The earlier trains are empty, quiet and I could use seven seats if I so wish.

Instead of getting upset, I have decided to make some changes on my part, leaving home early is now my new normal. I am now enjoying my train rides to work. I have time to sit and write and do a whole lot of stuff in my hour plus journey. But something had to give. I sacrificed my comfort of sleeping a little bit longer to starting off early and being more productive. As I have gone along, my bed times are now adjusted so I don’t lose out on my most needed sleep and rest to get reenergized for the following day. When I thought the problem was the trains being jam-packed, it was my timing that was a problem which I have control over. The little change I have made has improved my mental productivity. Instead of me stressing about who is not wearing a face mask on the train, who is not observing social distancing and is standing so close to me, having to wear a glove to protect my hand while holding onto a rail for support, and even trying to stop people from sneezing, I sit back on a less busy train without stress. I enjoy my journey while being productive. Thanks to the little change that I made.

So often, we tend to focus on the things that we have no control over instead of focusing on things that we can do something about. We waste so much time dwelling on negative issues which have a negative impact on how we feel. It’s healthier to dwell on positivity which frees you to remain creative to make great life adjustments.

Whenever things don’t work out for you, think of the little changes that you have power over and can make instead of focusing on what’s out of your reach. Stress is known to reduce one’s immunity. Cortisol, epinephrine and dopamine are chemicals that are released in the body when one is stressed and can significantly affect one’s health. The less stressed you get about things you can’t change, the more support you give to your immune system which sustains your health. Always start with your health & well-being in mind!

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