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 the rush
Checking on a map to see if there is a better way around regular congestion spots
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 way
Playing calming music when frustrated
Using relaxation techniques to manage stress when we experience it.
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 busy).
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