How I transformed my hellish commute with audio books

By Emma Reynolds

The brand communications manager began listening to podcasts and audiobooks to beat her nerves, choosing recordings that suit her mood and what she wants to achieve. Photo / 123RF
The brand communications manager began listening to podcasts and audiobooks to beat her nerves, choosing recordings that suit her mood and what she wants to achieve. Photo / 123RF

Working mum Rigel Barry used to find her commute almost unbearably stressful, until she found a miracle cure.

The 39-year-old from Melbourne says she's transformed her nightmare journey into something that actually makes life better.

In the old days, Ms Barry would grow increasingly anxious as she sat in traffic after a hectic morning getting her young children to kindergarten.

"It was probably the most stressful part of my day," she told news.com.au. "Trying to get myself and two little kids out the door ... We're always running late so after I drop them off I feel a bit frantic, I'm looking at the time and at the traffic.

"The kids' drop-off is 15 minutes to half an hour depending on how good they're being.

The ride to work is 40 minutes on a good day, an hour on a bad day.

"On the way home, I'm trying to wrap things up on time and I've got the franticness of 'oh my god, I'm going to be late to pick them up'."

The brand communications manager began listening to podcasts and audiobooks to beat her nerves, choosing recordings that suit her mood and what she wants to achieve. It's a solution that's becoming increasingly common among Australian commuters, many of whom dread their hellish journeys to work by car, bus, tram or train.

The average daily commute is now a massive 93 minutes in total, according to research by Audible.com.au. Three-quarters of Aussie commuters surveyed said their morning travels had a negative impact on their day, even more than having an argument with a partner or flatmate.

Most said "escaping" or being productive during the journey made them feel happier and more positive about the day ahead.

Germaine Leece, a bibliotherapist at the School of Life who prescribes clients books to help improve their lives, says we underestimate literature's healing power.

"Books can transport you away from your problems and make you feel you're not alone," she told news.com.au. "There are books in your life that have shaped you a lot subconsciously, whether it's escapism or inspiration.

"I prescribe six books for people to experience what they want to experience or see the world through someone else's eyes.

"Audiobooks are great for people who feel guilty about reading or want to get back into it. I don't think people consciously think about how your commute could be 'me' time."

HOW TO TRANSFORM YOUR COMMUTE

We can all benefit different audio depending on our personality, what sort of job we do and how we want to feel after your commute, according to the experts.

Ms Barry often plays inspiring memoirs by entrepreneurs, practical self-development advice or Ted Talks to set herself up to hit the ground running in her busy office. She recommends Awaken the Giant Within, Mastering the Mean Girl and The Universe Has Your Back.

In the evenings, she listens to parenting audiobooks like No-Drama Discipline to get ready for her second job of the day, and if she's really stressed, she'll play a recording about mindfulness or deep breathing. Now, she actually looks forward to her commute, and even has an "unofficial audiobook club" with friends.

"It's valuable time to listen to music or learn a language," she said. "I'm into health and wellness, spirituality. There's so much great content out there, whatever you're passionate or curious about."

Ms Leece says you need to work out what emotions you're feeling and why, and what you want to achieve. Think about which books have worked for you in the past in transforming your mindset or bringing you comfort.

"You might say, 'I don't want to think about my job, I need fiction from other era to take me away from 2016.'

"If you're stressed, you may want to listen to audio that helps you to be mindful and calm down, or a memoir on how someone dealt with stress.

"Maybe you need a bit of a laugh, something by David Sedaris. We're all unique individuals."

It may not always be obvious - fiction about someone conquering a huge challenge unrelated to their career could give you the inspiration and determination to reach your goals. Re-reading the Harry Potter books you loved as a child might give you a more positive outlook on a problem.

Ms Leece often prescribes The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George, "a beautiful book about love and moving on - to people who have gone through a bereavement or ended a relationship.

"I'm pleased Audible.com.au can help Aussies overcome the stress of the daily grind, with the research showing commuters would be happier and more positive about the day ahead if they were able to escape or be productive during this dead time," said the company's head of operations Matthew Gain.

"With bumper-to-bumper traffic, delays and overcrowded public transport, it's not surprising Aussies find the commute one of the most stressful parts of their day. Whether you're looking to be transported to a faraway land with Diana Gabaldon's Outlander or expand your horizons with Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic, audiobooks can help commuters use their travel time in a meaningful way."

TOP AUDIOBOOKS FOR PRODUCTIVITY

Ego Is the Enemy (Unabridged)
Author: Ryan Holiday
Narrator: Ryan Holiday

Chapter One: You Have The Power To Change Stuff
Author: Daniel Flynn
Narrator: Daniel Flynn

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (unbridged)
Author: Stephen R. Covey
Narrator: Stephen R. Covey

Elon Musk (Unabridged)
Author: Ashlee Vance
Narrator: Fred Sanders

How to Win Friends and influence People (unbridged)
Author: Ashlee Vance
Narrator: Fred Sanders

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A Simple, Effective Way To Banish Clutter Forever
Author: Marie Kondo
Narrator: Lucy Scott

The 4-Hour Work Week (Unabridged)
Author: Tim Ferriss
Narrator: Ray Porter

Be Obsessed or Be Average
Author: Grant Cardone
Narrator: Grant Cardone

Make it Happen
Author: Michelle Bridges
Narrator: Michelle Bridges

Big Magic
Author: Elizabeth Gilbert
Narrator: Elizabeth Gilbert

TOP AUDIOBOOKS FOR ESCAPISM

The Girl on the Train (Unabridged)
Author: Paula Hawkins
Narrator: Clare Corbett, India Fisher, Louise Brealey

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo (Unabridged)
Author: Amy Schumer
Narrator: Amy Schumer

Adnan's Story
Author: Rabia Chaudry
Narrator: Rabia Chaudry

The Harry Potter Series
Author: J.K. Rowling
Narrator: Stephen Fry

The Best of Adam Sharp
Author: Graeme Samsion
Narrator: David Barker

A Game of Thrones Series
Author: George R.R. Martin
Narrator: Roy Dotrice

Truly Madly Guilty
Author: Liane Moriarty
Narrator: Caroline Lee

Outlander
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Narrator: Davina Porter

The Light Between Oceans
Author: M L Stedman
Narrator: Noah Taylor

The Wrong Girl
Author: Zoe Foster
Narrator: Aimee Horne

- news.com.au

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