Imagine a weekday morning when you were calm instead of rushing into the office, huffing and puffing. Confident. Even looking forward to your workday. Wellness experts think such a thing is possible, part of a movement that prizes self-awareness and making small, conscious steps toward a healthier, fulfilling life – like adjusting your morning commute routine. Judy Manasco, a registered nutritionist and dietitian in Chicago, United States, believes that slight meal adjustments could drastically improve commuters’ well-being before work.


“The key is to wake up early enough where you’re not running around, stressed about getting to work on time, but pacing yourself and eating a healthy breakfast before work,” she says. Manasco suggests a balance of protein and carbohydrates to keep you full and energized until lunch. Her favorite breakfast? “A protein shake made from organic soy milk, raw, unsalted walnuts (they’re high in nutrient-dense omega-3 fatty acids), a variety of seeds, oat bran, and either a stalk of celery or a handful of spinach,” she says. For sweetness, she recommends adding natural cocoa or a date.

Diet isn’t the only trick to incorporating wellness into your morning commute. Manasco recommends whole-grain toast, a handful of nuts or seeds, and a cup of fruit if you skip the protein shake. She warns against coffee. “Caffeine will get your heart and adrenals pumping artificially, and thus could have you feeling unnecessarily anxious or depressed,” she says. Paying attention to posture and movement can also help. Jason Kart, a practicing physical therapist for ten years and the owner of Core Physical Therapy in Chicago, says lower back and neck pain are the most “common ailments” among his working patients.

“When you sit for a while, you turn your postural muscles off, and you start using passive structures like cartilage, which breaks down easier,” he says. “Humans are built to walk around and look for food, so when you’re sitting, you’re not activating those important spinal muscles, but instead causing a steady breakdown of muscle tissue.” Kart takes the train to work each morning and notices the same behavior causing neck pain among commuters: “text neck .” Text neck” occurs when you lean your head over your phone, straining your neck muscles and thus causing joint pain. He recommends a simple fix to alleviate this: “If you’re standing, the movement of the train helps you practice stability and balance and work your postural muscles,” he says.

And for car drivers who can’t stand during their commute?

Consider the headrest. “Bad posture is so common among drivers… they should practice keeping their head lightly against the headrest and avoid a slouch position,” he says. “This will gradually alleviate back and neck pain while driving.”


At work, Kart suggests periodically moving around to engage the postural muscles most commonly associated with neck and back pain. After considering your stomach and your spine, think of your brain. One of the most popular sectors of wellness is mindfulness. Darrell Jones, a meditation instructor, meditates on the train during his commute and recommends the practice to anyone who wants to feel “calmer and happier” entering their workspace.

Annoyed by the loud chatter or the loudspeaker on the train?

“Incorporate those sounds and how they make you feel into your meditation,” he says. He recommends guided meditation on apps like Calm, or finding a piece of instrumental classical, jazz, world, or new age music, and taking deep breaths while asking yourself questions such as: “Who do I want to be, regardless of what does or doesn’t happen today? Do I want to be a jerk or a kind soul? Do I want to embody possibility or show up exuding impossibility? “An easy meditation game you can play is taking a deep breath, with your eyes closed, each time the train door opens, and exhaling when it closes,” Jones says.

According to him, the most important thing is cultivating a calm, positive mindset before launching into a routine. If we can prioritize our wellness in small ways or create an air of possibility before reading a horrible piece of news or a frustrating work email… that could improve your whole day,” he says. – Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service Read more at