Well-Being//

The Shocking Health Effect of Awful Work Commutes and What You Can Do About It

But here's what you can do about it.

William Perugini / Shutterstock
William Perugini / Shutterstock

Whether we’re heading to work or departing from it, the space between our office and our homes serves as an arena for barbed considerations. With nothing to divert these thoughts, we submit to them, day in and day out. A wave of recent reports aspires to elevate our daily commutes from invariable annoyance to official public health issue. In addition to contributing to a loss of fuel and time expressed monetarily as a  value exceeding $100 billion a year,  there is evidence to suggest that a collective and unpropitious psychological, environmental and respiratory effect attends traffic frustrations over an extended period of time.  A recent study published in The Journal Public Economics discovered a 9% increase to domestic violence that occurs in the evening associated with a  congested morning commute.

Louis-Philippe Beland, an economist at Louisiana State University, fears that habitually entertaining traffic-fueled resentment can lead to some serious complications down the line, commenting to The New York Times, “Life stressors act as emotional cues. What our work shows is that in extreme cases some people’s responses to those cues can be quite large, leading to violence.”

As previously covered by Ladders, the existence of thoughts are not advantaged by their nature, which means toxic idealizations cannot be destroyed—they have to be given agency. We have to transform our career-related vexations into engines of productivity? Thankfully a new report from CarRentals.com has some salient propositions.The new commuting study that we’ll be unpacking below was conducted for CarRentals using Google Consumer Surveys. The respondent pool consisted of 1,000 participants, with an average RMSE score of 4.0%.

Road, work behind

According to the new survey, 40% of Americans are “almost always” obsessing about work on their commute home.

“Concentrating on these stressors behind the wheel is distracting and can lead to ignoring what’s going on presently, like acknowledging the car in front of you or the traffic light turning green,” the study’s authors explained in the paper. “You’re more likely to miss the present moment if your mind wanders to bad feedback at work — plus, this drains the thinking power that you’ll need for your workday. Unfortunately, the car can be an easy place to start this vicious cycle,”

Three out of 10 drivers confessed to allowing their work anxiety to inflame their road rage.  Interestingly, although 18 to 24-year-olds were found to be the least likely to think about work during their drive home compared to older generations, the Millennials that did, evidenced road rage more consistently than the 35 to 44-year-olds that thought about their work during their commute. By and large, off the clock thinking pertained to the failure to complete certain tasks, and the reprimands that accompanied said failures, including, write-ups, and aggressive verbal altercations with a supervisor.

“The solutions to work problems don’t involve continuously replaying them in your mind but instead acting upon them. It’s not crazy to talk out loud to yourself! Research shows there are benefits to talking out loud when there is positive intent.”

If you have the fortune of being able to drive to work every day, by all means, talk to yourself with abandon, but if you have to take a bus or a train every morning to get to work, maybe avoid talking to yourself like Sling Blade. Undermining your revolution of self-loathing is chiefly about swapping each negative gear with corresponding solutions-and thoughts can achieve this perfectly well. Here are some helpful ruminations to consider replacing your negative career obsessions with:

  1. Hours of sleep per night
  2. Work out regimen
  3. Eating healthily
  4. Milestones for passion projects
  5. Books to read
  6. Learning a new language or concept

Optimistically, you’ll find a way to leave your work brain on your desk at 5 pm.  A good way to satiate that hunger to be fruitful in the hours that stand between you and your front door is to navigate your output toward productive practices that aren’t restricted to career priorities. Some conversions include: listening to meditations instead of reciting presentations, calling a family or friend as opposed to answering work calls and listening to a new podcast or audio-book instead of listening to a vocation-oriented webcast.  Below CarRentals.com has provided an index of mantras to implement during your carbon routine.

  1. I recognize my own gifts and talents.
  2. I will focus on what I can do rather than what I can’t.
  3. There is beauty in my unique differences.
  4. I am grateful for all my learning experiences.
  5. I feel healthy, I feel happy, I feel terrific.
  6. Today is a blessing and a gift.
  7. I believe in myself.

This article was originally published on The Ladders.

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