Changing habits to take control
14 October 2019
By Hayley Carmichael
We all fall into habits in the ways we do things, take commuting for example, hopping in the car becomes second nature – but Denise Harris explains why it doesn’t have to stay that way.
One story of how change became possible
Denise Harris is an Organisational Development Business Partner for Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust. She shares her story of how she changed a long established habit of commuting by car.
“I have always been on the lookout for opportunities to be more active in my journey to work but often that was not possible either due to the location of my work (in the middle of no-where) or the nature of my role (community based). Consequently I developed a habit of automatically using my car to travel around the organisation to meetings.”
“Switching to #ActiveCommute was a gradual thing and was initially triggered by the move to an office base where I could walk to work so I stopped automatically driving to work.”
Doing it once made it easier to find other opportunities to do it again
“This prompted me to think about other ways of avoiding driving for work. Another factor was the need for me to travel regularly to Brighton and I found the A27 a stressful experience! I gradually used my car less and less and switched to travelling by train whenever possible and then walking to my destination (although at first I did get the bus up Elm Grove!). For me, this met what I referred to as the ‘3 Es’ of Economy, Exercise and Environment. Once I started doing this regularly I also realised that I could add a fourth ‘E’ of Efficiency as I could use the time to read, make calls or respond to emails. As a result of this we decided to get rid of my car as it spent so much time on the driveway.”
Reaping the rewards of an active commute
As Denise highlighted, choosing a more active way to travel to work brings with it many benefits. Denise calls them the 3 E’s and we call that the three pillars of sustainable healthcare.
It saves money or reduces outgoing costs, it helps improve wellbeing and it reduces air pollution and carbon emissions.
Denise goes on to confirm, “I am saving money by only having one car to run at home, and I refer to Elm Grove as my ‘free gym’ (eds note: it is really steep!) plus I can use the travel time to be productive or just relax. ”
There are no downsides here and all it took was a realisation that what had originally made travelling by car essential had changed, making car travel a habit that could be transformed!
You can join Denise in taking the #activecommute pledge here.