A Day in the Life of Stress: Commuting
The daily grind of commuting to work is stressful and can actually damage your health. Reducing its impact can make the journey, and your day, much more pleasurable.
Apart from those who work from home, most people need to travel to their place of work. Ever tried waiting for the bus, only for three to pass by at once? Whatever the method of transport, be it plane, train or automobile, each brings its own set of stresses and strain.
Train and car are still the most popular methods of getting to work. Travelling by train means a lack of control over your environment: overcrowding, delays and a violation of personal space. Scientific research has confirmed that a passenger’s heart rate and blood pressure are much higher during their commute.
The car isn’t much better – traffic congestion can delay a journey severely and bring frustration. These factors combined mean blood pressure rises and the body releases stress hormones. It’s not a great start to the day and over a long period; the strain all this stress puts on your health will start to show.
The Age of Commuter Fury
When stress builds up it is often released in a hostile, aggressive manner.
Road rage has entered today’s vernacular as an expression of this, due to increased overcrowding on the motorways and roads in the last decade. The phenomenon of anger is becoming more common and is widening beyond road rage.
Today, rage, is prefixed by air, tube and parking to name but a few, as people try to fit more and more into their already hectic days. Flying used to be linked with time to unwind, the beginning of a holiday. With more people using no-frills airlines due to reasonable ticket process, this has led to a heavier demand and, as a result, queuing and a lack of information regarding your flight; you’ll arrive at your destination exhausted.
Reducing Commuter Stress
There are several ways to try and minimise the time you spend commuting. But it’s important to remember that beyond these tips, the matter is out of your control.
Plan your journey
- No matter what the mode of transport, planning your journey can save you time and make the commute more bearable. Leave earlier or later to avoid the rush hour, and perhaps suggesting a more flexible start/finish time to your employer would be of help.
Listen to the radio
- Playing the radio as you get ready can be invaluable. It will alert you to local traffic reports, as they will warn of traffic hotspots. And listen to the weather as this will allow you to prepare for the journey and ensure that you are suitably clothed whether walking, cycling or preparing for a car trip.
Good driving posture
- If you are diving, look at the map to see if there is an alternative route that will minimise traffic congestion. Also, adjust the controls of the car to make you journey more comfortable. Check that your neck and back are supported properly to reduce the physical impact of sitting for long periods of time.
Be a courteous driver
- When on the road, concentrate on driving and not on passengers, your mobile phone or other distractions. Listening to music will help you to unwind and de-stress. Maintain a safe distance from the car in front and avoid tailgating. Above all, try to be as courteous as possible, giving clear signals when you intend to move lane or take a turn. Try to stay as calm as possible to leave enough time for your journey.
Share your journey
- Have you tried carpooling? Sharing a ride in to work can have many benefits. It rotates the driving responsibility, can help financially, is less stressful and is flexible. Once you have sorted some basic rules you may find it is a great way of commuting. If you don’t own a car then you can contribute to the running costs. Be adopting this idea you will also ease traffic congestion and air pollution.
- Cycling into work doesn’t mean you escape commuter stress. Pollution is a major problem for cyclists so wear a facemask to reduce this threat. Also make sure that you are highly visible to other road users; wear a helmet and reflective materials for safety, and make sure your bike lights work at night.
- Travelling on the tube? Take a book to read or listen to some music to distract your mind. And as the tube arrives, try walking further up the platform to use a carriage that might not be as full – or as stressful.