Hello, fellow commuters! Dealing with the negative effects of commuting is something we need to do everyday. If you’re like me, you probably dread the thought of going back to the office after working from home for so long. Don’t get me wrong, I miss seeing my colleagues and having face-to-face meetings, but I don’t miss the hassle of commuting every day.
Commuting causes stress
Let’s define commuting. What is commuting? Commuting (from the word, commute) is traveling or moving from your home to somewhere (work, school, mall, etc.) by the use of any form of transportation.
Now in this day and age, something called commuting stress affects most, if not all, commuters worldwide. The meaning of commuting stress is plain and simple, getting stressed over commuting! You know what I’m talking about: the traffic, the crowds, the delays, the pollution, the noise, even pickpockets!…the list goes on.
Commuting is not only annoying, it’s also bad for our health and well-being. According to various studies, commuting can cause stress, anxiety, depression, obesity, high blood pressure, lower immunity, reduced sleep quality and less time for socializing and exercising. That’s a lot of negative effects for something we do almost every day!
Negative effects of commuting
A survey by Gallup found that commuting contributed to an overall decline in health and well-being.
Gallup has found that commutes of 45 minutes or more are linked to poorer overall wellbeing, daily mood and health. And in 2022, Gallup found that commutes of just 30 minutes are linked to higher stress and anger. After being able to avoid commuting during the pandemic, even half an hour now feels intolerable for many people.Why the Commute? (Gallup.com)
Researchers at the University of California at Irvine have conducted a study that sheds light on how the stress of commuting can take a significant toll on our health. The findings also suggest that it can lead to elevated blood pressure and the release of stress hormones in our body.
What’s more, a commuting stress research cited that prolonged use of cars was found to increase the risk of a heart attack, thanks to sitting for long hours, limited movement and exposure to high levels of air pollutants, all known risk factors for heart disease.
Sedentary behaviour takes place in multiple settings: at home, at work, and during transport. Transport is a domain in which large amounts of time can be spent sitting, particularly in private motor vehicles.Car use and cardiovascular disease risk (Sciencedirect.com)
A reasonable commute to work for me would be around 30 to 45 minutes. More than that would be causing my stress levels to gradually increase.
And despite some saying that commuting is actually good for the body, I would have to say, no way! Whether you’re commuting by car, bus or train, commuting stress is real and it’s felt by many.
But here’s the silver lining – while we can’t completely eliminate the stress that comes with commuting, we have a host of strategies at our disposal to keep that energy-draining vulture at bay.
Here are some powerful tips to help us in dealing with the negative effects of commuting.
- Prepare in Advance
Start your day right by preparing everything you need the night before. Lay out your clothes, gather your documents, and pack your lunch to avoid the morning rush. This will free up valuable time for your morning routine, allowing you to savor a leisurely breakfast and spend quality moments with your family. Plus, you’ll hit the road with less traffic-induced stress.
- Prioritize Quality Sleep and Waking Up Early
Make a commitment to get a good night’s sleep and rise early. Sufficient rest rejuvenates your body, providing a much-needed buffer against the cumulative effects of stress. By starting your day well-rested, you’ll be better equipped to handle workplace challenges and maintain a positive mood at home.
- Flexible Work Hours
Consider adjusting your work hours to avoid peak traffic times. Why battle the daily “9-to-5” congestion when alternative shifts, like ten-to-six or eight-to-four, might be available? Check your company’s policies to see if these shifts can help you escape the energy-draining stress of your daily commute.
Sharing your ride may require some coordination, but carpooling is worth the effort. Studies have shown that it significantly reduces commuter stress. Carpooling not only reduces air and noise pollution but also allows you to relax while someone else takes the wheel.
- Create a Mobile Sanctuary
Rather than getting frustrated in traffic, use your commute time wisely. Listen to music or audio books, which can transport your mind away from the daily grind. You can even use this time to learn a new language or do car exercises like shoulder rolls, neck extensions, and tummy tucks to stay alert and relaxed.
- Support Your Back
The lumbar area of your spine tends to slump when you’re sitting, causing stress on your spinal disks. To alleviate this, use a rolled towel or pillow to support your lower back. During longer drives, adjust your seating position to ensure a comfortable journey.
- Post-Work Wellness
With the evening rush often worse than the morning commute, consider staying back after work. Hit the gym near your office or take meditation classes to unwind. If you plan to dine out, catch a movie, or do some shopping, do it close to work to avoid the frustrating rush hour.
- Give Yourself a Breather
Many companies now offer flexible working arrangements, such as compressed hours or longer workdays, which grant you work-free days to relax and recharge.
- Explore Remote Work
If your job involves a lengthy daily commute, inquire about working from home or closer to your residence. An alternative work schedule can empower you to feel more in control and reduce stress.
- Mix Things Up
Consider changing your commuting routine occasionally. Walking or biking to work can be a refreshing change of pace, sparing you from the stress of rush hour traffic.
By implementing these stress-busting techniques, you’re not only conserving valuable energy otherwise lost during your daily commute, but you’re also setting the stage for a more productive and satisfying day. So, gear up to start each morning right and conquer your daily drive with resilience and positivity.