Why do we find commuting so horribly stressful?
6 March 2014
Author: Dr Daniel Newman, RA, Sustainable Places Research Institute
This week, the Office for National Statistics released a report into the impact of commuting on personal well-being.
The results show that those of us who commute have lower life satisfaction. Principally, commuters find their daily travel stressful – something most of us can who spend our mornings and evening crammed onto carriages or stuck in traffic jams can surely relate to.
A large part of the stress likely results from physical complaints arising as a result of the time and effort we expend commuting. We take less exercise, don't eat home cooked meals and often suffer from joint pain and insomnia. None of these trends promote good mental health and, indeed, all are likely to ramp up anxiety levels in more or less subtle way.
Beyond this, commuting has led to a perceptible decline in civic identity, especially in urban areas where it leads to an alienating social atomisation. The daily trek back and fore to work fragments our communities, cutting off the calming reassurance we can take from the fraternity of mutual support. We become isolated pockets of dissatisfaction lacking the confidence to call on our neighbour for help, advice or to vent some steam.