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Numerous studies attest to the fact that your commute is detrimental to your health. But to those who can’t change jobs, a change of mindset is just as good.
Picture this. You’re sitting in your office chair, worn and saggy in the middle, drumming your pen aimlessly on the desk. Empty coffee cups are scattered around you, the silent soldiers drained of their life-giving blood during the battle that is the 9-to-5 workday. The hum of computers drowns out your colleagues’ frustrated sighs. It’s 4:59pm. Then, with clockwork precision, the office surrenders to a primal force. Ripples of movement course through the aisles, sweeping you off your feet and out the revolving doors.
And so begins the daily peak-hour commute home.
Despite the incorrect estimate that 9 in 10 Australians spend more than 90 minutes travelling to work (the figure was adjusted to 54 minutes in 2016), every commuter can retell their delays, traffic congestion and the visceral experience of cattle riding in sweltering carriages. While it’s accepted that such lengthy travel is frustrating, is it actually killing you?
Recent studies seem to indicate just that.
Various American & English studies have identified a clear link between commuting and higher blood sugar, higher cholesterol, increased depression & anxiety, blood pressure spikes and general rises over time, back and neck problems, reduced sleep quality and an overall decline in happiness & life satisfaction. Recently, one Swedish study surmised that it could actually shorten your lifespan.
Driving is widely considered the worst mode of transport in terms of impacting your health. Leon James (PhD) a Professor of Psychology at the University of Hawaii particularly points out its mental toll: “…you are surrounded by hundreds of people having negative emotions, and the whole system is based on whether it’s cooperative or antagonistic.”
So, what’s to do? Save for the dream job you don’t have to leave the house for, the only thing left to be is alarmed, right?
First and foremost, it’s not the method of travel so much as how you do it. Many of the above studies fail to consider today’s technological advancements. The stress associated with travel and deadlines can be minimised by making the most of the time we’re afforded. There are many options. You could write on the go (like I am now), get a head start on reading, binge that Netflix series, listen to that new album. It takes, on average, 3-6 hours to read a 300-page book, so you could theoretically be finishing a novel a week. If that’s not for you, a 2005 study believes that you should use the time as an opportunity to create a mental shift between home and work.
Commuting kills, so make it your own sort of enjoyable, and altogether more holistically pleasant, headache.