The Problems With Commuting and How to Tackle Them

Since the early 20th century, travel and tourism have been seen as something pleasant that most of us enjoy doing during our spare time. However, when it’s about going from home to work every day, it can quickly become a nuisance and something definitely not enjoyable at all. The ever-increasing number of commuters—many urban residents—is now causing practical problems and, in some cases, even severe threats to their health and well-being.

Commuting can be one of the most baffling aspects of a person’s life. Spending hours in daily traffic is not a pleasant experience, especially since we could be doing other more enjoyable things instead. 

The time spent in traffic can be particularly frustrating during rush hour when traffic congestion can slow a driver’s commute to a crawl or even cause them to be late for work or other obligations. In this article, we’ll look into the frustrations of commuting, what commuting does to your health, and tips for staying sane during your commute. 

Commuting Problems

Wasted Time

A long commute’s a toll on our ability to do our jobs effectively, and that can translate into diminished productivity.

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the typical trip from home to the workplace and back takes more than fifty-two minutes. Overall, Americans take over 50 billion solo commutes yearly, averaging 15 miles each way.

With the average commute in the United States currently taking more than 26 minutes each way, when you do the math, that’s 40 hours per week. According to ADP research, the commute is the third most popular reason people quit their jobs.

The commuting issue becomes even more critical considering that about two-thirds of all American workers drive to work alone. According to the United States Department of Transportation, nearly 1.35 million people are killed on roadways nationwide—including over two million injuries—directly related to commuter transportation issues.

It’s about time we do something about this serious problem and take steps to make commuting a more pleasant experience for all commuters. It’s high time we reexamine the way we commute and come up with innovative alternative solutions to the problem of commuting.

What Does Commuting Do to Your Health?

1. Your Blood Sugar Level Increases

Driving over 10 miles one way to and from work is connected with elevated blood sugar levels. High glucose levels in the blood can contribute to pre-diabetes and diabetes.

2. Your Cholesterol Levels Are Also Higher

According to the same report by The American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the 10-mile one-way commutes were also linked to increased cholesterol levels in commuters. This is concerning since high cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease.

3. Your Depression Levels Rise

According to a recent survey from the United Kingdom’s Office of National Statistics, those who travel more than half an hour to work report higher levels of stress and anxiety than those who commute less than half an hour or do not commute at all. While you can’t do much to reduce or eliminate your commute, you can make the most of it by listening to a fascinating audiobook.

4. Your Happiness and Life Satisfaction Decrease

Boredom and stress during your daily commute can result in poor health, such as high blood pressure and heart disease. These conditions can ultimately lead to an untimely death. A study in the United Kingdom showed that people who commuted by car for more than an hour each day were double as likely to die early than those who didn’t. It was also found that people who commuted by train for more than two hours daily were four times more likely to die early than non-commuters.

5. You Feel Back Aches

Spending hours each week hunched in a car seat (as a driver or a passenger) has severe effects on your posture and back; commuters are more prone to experience back and neck problems.

Sitting for long can lead to bad posture, spinal curvature, herniated disks, and even arthritis. Although sitting for hours in your car may not directly cause these ailments, it can worsen these conditions.

Tips for Staying Sane and Make the Best of Your Time During a Commute

You cannot control traffic flow or if the person sitting next to you plays death metal at 7:00 a.m. However, you may take action to reduce your stress levels. Here are some tried-and-true ways to make your commute more tolerable.

1. Text a Friend

Commuting can be tedious, so it’s always a great idea to chat with a friend. Talking to others is an excellent way to keep yourself distracted and entertained during your commute. You can also tune in to a podcast or music on your phone, which can also help keep you distracted. You can also talk with a fellow passenger while riding the bus. Just ensure you don’t get so distracted that you miss your stop!

2. Cultivate Positive Thoughts and Let Go of Negative Feelings

When you feel negative emotions creeping up on you, remind yourself that they are just thoughts—not facts—and that you have the power to choose how to react to them. You can also recite a positive affirmation to yourself—for example, “I am calm, confident, and relaxed”—to change your state of mind.

Focusing on the positive instead of the negative can help make even the most extended drives bearable. Breathe deeply and take frequent breaks to stretch your legs or get fresh air.

Taking regular breaks from your driving can help you stay focused on the road and reduce any uneasiness you may feel in your body.

3. Practice Gratitude Towards What You Receive

Rather than focusing on the unpleasant aspects of your journey, reminding yourself why you’re doing this might reduce your stress—for instance, concentrating on the positives of being able to pay rent, a mortgage, or saving for a child’s education.

It might be inspiring to remember that your efforts at work provide food for your family or heat for your home. When you consider the vacation you were able to take or the one just around the corner, the commute might seem much more worthwhile. When we focus on what we are grateful for in life rather than the bad or problematic things, stress seems to flow away.

4. Read a Book in Exchange for the Lost Hours of Commute

Thanks to audiobooks and digital platforms such as Audible, Google Audiobooks, and, it is now possible to “read” a book securely while driving. Everyone enjoys hearing a good story. When one enters the world of audiobooks, texts are frequently read by writers or professional voiceover actresses, bringing the tale to life.


5. Munch on With Some Healthy Snack

Being “hangry” (hungry and angry) puts you at risk for low blood sugar and shorter patience, which might result in an accident. Maintaining a supply of nutritious snacks will help you pass the time, keep you awake, and minimize “hanger-related” road rage.

Here are some healthy munchies to snack on:

  • Pack some sliced fruits
  • Granola and energy bars
  • Kefir or drinkable yogurt
  • Dehydrated fruits (like mangoes or strawberries)
  • Trail mix

How Does Commuting Harm the Environment?

Besides being a daily nuisance, commuting significantly influences the Earth’s atmosphere and ecosystem. Whenever you drive a gasoline-powered vehicle, harmful chemicals are released into the air, including pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx gases), particulate matter (PM), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), as well as greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2).

These pollutants can cause major problems, including an increase in the severity of air pollution and the development of a greenhouse effect, both of which contribute to climate change.

The Solution

Besides federal regulation, many states have established their own emissions standards. But more than that, the government should prioritize improving infrastructure for walking, cycling, public transportation, and electric vehicles. These options for commuting are not equally accessible everywhere, so the goal is to make them more convenient and available in more areas.

Commuting is a daily activity for millions of people worldwide, but it doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience. There are ways to minimize the stress and boredom of a daily commute while still getting to your destination safely. Following these tips can make your time on the road less frustrating and more bearable. We hope this article helps to make your daily commute easier!

Find out about electric cars, car innovation, and sustainable transportation that will make commuting more enjoyable.

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