However it is done, commuting can be a
source of unpleasant stress.
If we commute by car, then we can experience
stress from congestion, physical discomfort,
air pollution and noise.
Of these, congestion is often the most
intense source of frustration: While our
goal is to get to our destination as quickly
as possible, congestion directly prevents
us from achieving this. Plenty of studies
have tracked the direct physiological effect
of traffic congestion in raising blood pressure
and releasing stress hormones into the body.
On the other hand, commuting by public
transport has its own set of stresses. These
mainly involve the stresses of lack of control
over our environment, overcrowding and violation
of personal space. Noise, delay and unwelcome
interaction with other travelers can add
to the frustration of using public transport.
Don't underestimate the significance of
overcrowding as a source of stress: As with
congestion (a form of crowding), it becomes
a problem when it interferes with our ability
to achieve our goals. This is often the
case when we need to get somewhere quickly.
Crowding also forces us into closer contact
with strangers than we would often like,
triggering all of the social taboos associated
with unwanted physical contact and invasion
of personal space. Again, many studies have
confirmed the direct effect of crowding
on the release of stress hormones into our
bodies (fortunately, it is something we
can get used to with time).
Whatever we do, commuting is likely to
remain a source of stress. Despite this,
there is a lot we can do to improve the
situation - depending on whether we commute
by car or by public transport, we can make
things better by:
- Leaving earlier for work so we beat
- Checking on a map to see if there is
a better way around regular congestion
- Making sure that we adjust the controls
of our car so that our driving position
is as comfortable as possible
- When using public transport, reading
or distracting ourselves in some other
- Playing calming music when frustrated
- Using relaxation
techniques to manage stress when we
experience it, and
- Using the positive
thinking skills to think about the
commute in a more positive way.
The stresses of public transport are more
difficult to manage than car commutes because
we have less control over our situation.
A long-term solution may be to move further
towards the start or end of a commuting
route (at the start of a commuting route,
crowding is usually less intense and people
have more freedom to arrange themselves
and their possessions before things get
to find out how to perform well under pressure...