Welcome to our special section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus). We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.

As a student living in the city of London, several hours of my day are consumed by using public transport services to commute to and from class. Initially, I used to pass the time by watching T.V. shows or playing games on my phone. But, this time can be invaluable if spent in specific ways. Your commutes can set the tone for how productive you are in the subsequent hours. Moreover, you can use this time to accomplish things that you might not be able to allocate time for in the other hours of your day.

So, below are thirty ways to incorporate self-care into your commute so that you can feel relaxed, refreshed and ready for what the day has to bring:

Reach out to a friend or family member

Contact someone that you have not interacted with in a while and ask them about updates in their life.

Create a to-do list or plan out your day

By planning your day during your commute, you can be more productive as you have taken the guesswork out of determining the most critical tasks.

Repeat positive affirmations

Reinforce positive statements about you using repetitions, and this can help you to feel more confident and comfortable about who you are.

Try bullet journaling and document your emotions

Through documenting your thoughts and emotions, you can track any patterns of behaviour and feelings based on particular aspects of that day.

Read a book or listen to an ebook

There are a plethora of different genres of books to choose from, select a book that interests you and try to complete at least half of the book.

Practice face or hand yoga

Relax and tone your face/hand muscles on the go to start the day feeling refreshed.

Try a language app

Languages can unlock opportunities, so by learning a language, you can open the door to new holiday destinations and career possibilities.

Create a list of compliments people have given you

You can then reflect on this list at times when you need to feel uplifted, motivated or inspired.

Complete an online course

There are many e-learning platforms which are affordable and support offline access, so take advantage of the time you have and pick up a new skill, whether it is technical or creative.


Meditation is known to reduce stress and provide more clarity of thought, which is needed for the work of any and every commuter.

Smile and say good morning to people on your commute

There are many people on your commute who experience no human interaction throughout the whole day so by smiling and striking a conversation with them, both of you feel more positive, and they know that someone has acknowledged their existence.

Try creative writing

Whether it is a short story, novel or a poem, write based on your thoughts and feelings. If you want to take it one step further, submit your work to a creating writing outlet or a competition and see how it goes.

Focus on your thoughts

When you take the time to analyse and process your thoughts, you can filter through and focus the roots of your negative thoughts.

Take a different route to your destination

Be spontaneous and use a different mode of transportation or take a different route to work. This will break the process of the mundane commute and encourage you to think on your feet.

Give your seat to someone in need

While it can be gratifying to have a seat during your commute, you shouldn’t forget that there people who can struggle to stand in a moving vehicle. Please give your seat to an elder, pregnant woman, someone with difficulty walking or who has a “Please offer me a seat” badge. You can feel happy knowing that you have helped to make someone else’s commute more endurable.

Try to include more time walking or cycling in your commute

Make the most of nature, fresh air and natural light by incorporating more walking or cycling into your commute.

Listen to a thought-provoking podcast

Some podcasts are designed to challenge your perception of the world or of your life. These podcasts may help you to decipher what is truly important to you and what is white noise.

Start a blog on something that interests you

Blogging doesn’t just have to be about making a career, it can also be an outlet for your passions and another side of you which people are less likely to witness during a working day. Even if you don’t have access to the internet during your commute, you can hand-write or type the post offline then edit and upload it when you have an internet connection.

Make a list of things that you are grateful for

It’s easy to take the things you have for granted, but during your commute, make this list. Then, refer to this list when you feel that the odds are stacked up against you and life is becoming harder.

Focus on your breathing

Practice mindful breathing and experience the benefits that it can have on your stress levels and brain functionality.

Write a letter to your younger/older self

Write this letter and if it is addressed to your older self then determine when in the future, you want to open it. Alternatively, if it is addressed to your younger self, then you could give the letter to a younger person who you feel could benefit from the message.

Offer to help someone who is having difficulty at the station

Help a parent to carry a pram up or down a flight of stairs or if you notice that someone is unsure how to reach their destination, offer to give them some assistance.

Make a playlist based on your mood

Based on your mood at the time, create a playlist of music that appeals to you so that the next time you are in this situation, you have some fitting music to listen to.

Make a list of your achievements from the previous day

It’s essential to recognise your accomplishments regardless of size, so make this list and take pride in what you have been able to achieve.

Perform a random act of kindness on your way to your destination

Random acts of kindness don’t need to be grand gestures. They could be as simple as giving a thank you card to a bus driver, giving a snack to a homeless person or offering to pay for someone’s train fare.

Try colouring books or sketching

Art stationary and apps are relatively affordable nowadays, and there is a wide variety of designs and mediums to choose from.

Write a positive review for a business whose product/service you appreciate

The business whose product/service has helped you also deserves some positive energy to come their way. As a happy customer, you can strengthen the notion that their business has helped people.

Make a compilation of recipes you would like to try this week

While you can’t cook or prepare meals on your commute, you can buy a few recipe magazines or install a recipe app then bookmark the recipes of dishes which tickle your tastebuds. Break free from the set routine you have built, be more adventurous and try a new dish.

Mute posts and notifications from negative people on social media

If you feel that a particular person or company is exhibiting negative energy, you are under no commitment to read their negative content. As a result, if you don’t feel comfortable unfollowing them, you can simply mute their posts.

Make a list of tasks that you have been meaning to complete but have avoided

Assign each task to one day in the week to accomplish. The sooner that those tasks are completed, the sooner you will feel a sense of accomplishment and feel lighter because those tasks are no longer weighing you down.

Depending on the mode of transportation used on your commute, not all of the ideas above are feasible. But there is something for everyone, so try to see which of the activities you can attempt during your commute and feel free to share more ideas or tips in the comments below.

Subscribe here for all the latest news on how you can keep Thriving.

More on Mental Health on Campus:

What Campus Mental Health Centers Are Doing to Keep Up With Student Need

If You’re a Student Who’s Struggling With Mental Health, These 7 Tips Will Help

The Hidden Stress of RAs in the Student Mental Health Crisis