Everyday irritations like waiting in traffic can build up over time and cause mental problems later in life, psychologists found. […]
Using data from two national surveys, researchers found negative responses to daily stresses such as arguments with a partner, conflicts at work, standing in long queues or sitting in traffic led to psychological distress or anxiety and mood disorders ten years later.
We’ve all been there. Patience exhausted but helpless to do anything about it; Worried about the consequences of being late to your destination. Traffic is a terrible consequence of the highly mobile age we live in. But this study suggests the effects of sitting in traffic are more than just a temporary annoyance. The cumulative effects of everyday annoyances can have long-term impacts on mental health.
At Via Meadia, we’re increasingly convinced that the daily commuting ritual is one of the Great Banes of our lives. It’s bad for families, bad for the environment, bad for neighborhoods and volunteer organizations, bad for government budgets and between the pollution and stress it creates, it’s bad for public health. It’s a legacy institution from the 20th century that needs to be killed.
Some jobs need to be done face to face, and many jobs require at least some direct interaction among people who are physically together. But the average American commutes 25.4 minutes each way to work. The information revolution is reducing the need for commuting; fewer and fewer jobs now require that everyone drive to the same room, and as a society we are getting better at working cooperatively over distances. Whether you are a feminist, an environmentalist, an economist, a pro-family activist or just a person who wants to live a little better than you do, telework is a cause that you need to embrace.
One of these days one or both parties is going to realize that killing the commute is the kind of social change that Americans want their leaders to push. Until that happy day, we recommend deep breathing (but not near commuting thoroughfares) and music or podcasts that put you at ease. Stress kills, and death by commuting is a terrible way to go.