Overcrowded trains. Gtting your foot trampled on by someone rushing for the doors at the last minute. Being assaulted by all kinds of weird smells… just your typical daily commute. If there was a way to teleport from home to work instantly, how much happier would we all be?
Very much so, according to the research. Studies have found that the longer your commute is, the likelier you are to suffer from depression, financial woes, and even obesity. Additionally, commutes that last for more than 20 minutes have been found to cause chronic stress.
That’s bad news since the average Singaporean spends around 1.5 hours commuting every day. To make matters worse, other studies have shown that Singaporeans are some of the most stressed workers in the world.
Before delving into recommendations, though, it’s necessary to understand the underlying reasons why long commutes are such a potent source of stress and misery for people all over the world.
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Being stuck in a long, snaking jam on the highway or getting packed like sardines into the train every day can make you feel like a tiny, powerless worker ant.
The biggest reason why commutes make you feel so miserable is that it makes you feel like you’re not in control of your situation. This isn’t always a bad thing. In this context, though, being subject to the unpredictability of traffic jams and train delays can erode your sense of autonomy and purpose.
Both of these factors are crucial to intrinsic motivation, as Daniel Pink explains in his New York Times bestseller, “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.” If you have to endure a long jam each day, it puts a major dampener on your mood and makes you feel weary and deflated even before you step into the office.
Another consequence of the lack of control that commutes make you feel is that it adds to your stress levels. It could be because of road rage, an unpleasant taxi driver, or hearing an announcement that your train’s been delayed (again.) A long commute can put you on edge.
It’s almost like commuting forces you to fight a morning battle every day before you even officially enter the arena of the corporate battlefield that is work.
Studies have also shown that commutes can hurt your life satisfaction. For starters, arriving at work already stressed out and anxious every day will almost certainly eat away at your mental health in the long term.
What’s more, the longer your commute, the less time you have for stress-relieving activities like quality time with your loved ones.
Unless you cycle, walk or run to work every day, long commutes take a toll on your health in the long run. Increased blood pressure, higher blood sugar, and cholesterol levels, as well as a higher risk of heart attacks. All of these may result from spending extended amounts of time commuting to and from work daily.
Perhaps most notably, the longer your commute, the more sedentary your lifestyle is. Without making up for by ensuring you work out regularly, it’s bound to penalise you in the long-term.