Commuting to London has crept into many of my blog posts. But so have mentions of wellbeing and work-life balance. So what happened when I decided to shake everything up and make a lifestyle change?
Posts have been a bit sporadic on here recently due to two things.
Firstly, we went on holiday to Switzerland and as tempting as it was to update the blog as we travelled, quite frankly, the country was just too beautiful to do anything but give it my full attention. (Check out my top things to do in the Brienz area of Switzerland here).
Secondly, I got a new job.
Yep, I’ve finally ditched that commute and shaken up my lifestyle in the process.
For about three years, I’ve been commuting to London from the south coast of England. It’s a good two hours each way so, every day, I’d wake up and face a total of between four and five hours a day travelling to and from work. Throw in a series of train strikes and almost constant delays and it’s no wonder I’d come home feeling irritable and exhausted.
The sticking point was that I loved my job in publishing. Sure it had it’s ups and downs (like most jobs) but I worked with a brilliant bunch of people and had serious job satisfaction (plus lots of free books…) Working in publicity for a children’s book publisher, meant that no day was the same – I’d be writing press releases and chasing those few and far between press slots, or I’d be at a book festival helping authors make animal masks with kids in between story times…
So choosing to leave this world, was a big decision.
Now, two weeks into my new job, I know I’ve made the right choice. I’m still in PR but at a University on the south coast of England and my two hour commute has shrunk to between 30 and 40 minutes (one way). Now I even have the choice, yep that’s right, the choice between getting the train or driving.
But the commute wasn’t the only factor I considered.
I’m not a big city fan. Sometimes, sitting on a crowded commuter train, or weaving through crowds of suits on the way to the office left me feeling frantic and slightly lonely. Crazy right? In the busiest place in the UK, how could you feel alone?
I think the lack of trees and big open green spaces has a huge impact on your mental and emotional wellbeing. We were lucky enough to have a wonderfully maintained roof terrace in London – somewhere to escape and sit on the grass, among the flowers. But you couldn’t avoid all the crowded buildings on the skyline.
So, asides from the shorter commute, I’m also surrounded by trees and wild flower gardens in my new job.
Set among the beautiful South Downs National Park, my new workplace is surrounded by countryside. The architect behind the campus even took into consideration, not just the design of the buildings, but also the number of trees and their whereabouts. Apparently, from every room on campus, you’re meant to be able to see a tree.
So in my second week, am I feeling any different?
Remarkably so. I have more spare time and my journeys on public transport are no longer wracked with anxiety about getting a seat, getting delayed, even getting to work… They’re actually quite enjoyable!
Of course, there are other reasons I was attracted to this job – reasons linked to career progression and being challenged within the field of PR. This job felt like a perfect combination of all my past jobs and interests – the academic schools I’m looking after reflect my passions and interests from books to biology, climate change to conservation. The role itself feels like a combination of my job in journalism, my role in publishing and even my blog. It seems like a merger of everything.
But the shorter commute and the beautiful working environment has had a bigger impact already than I thought it would.
I’ve taken a lunch break every single day so far. I’ve walked around campus and sat in the sunshine surrounded by grass. I’ve wandered down library aisles and found good coffee spots for when it’s raining outside. I’ve enjoyed walking in to work, flanked by trees and nature rather than grey buildings and crowds of people.
And I think I’ll still have the career challenges, progression and satisfaction that I would have had if I’d stayed in the big city.
What I want to impress upon you, is that sometimes you have to put your health (physical and mental) first. If you’re not happy with something, change it.
I wasn’t happy doing that commute – I knew it wasn’t going to be a long-term thing so I kept an eye out for something closer to home. But I didn’t want to just accept anything. So I was fussy and, crucially, I took my time to find my next move and kept telling myself that something would come up.
If you’re thinking about making a lifestyle change, but are a bit apprehensive, my advice is just to go for it.
I knew I’d regret not taking this chance, and while I was nervous and apprehensive before my first day, I also knew it was the right move for me. My work-life balance has improved, and so has my emotional wellbeing – without a doubt.
And you have to put that first.