Travelling to and from work plays a significant role in the daily lives of some 25 million UK commuters (Labour Force Survey, 2007). The average person will travel 2114 miles per year for per year for commuting / business and a total of 198 trips are made for this reason alone (DfT, transport Statistics, 2006). Therefore new research from Nottingham Trent University emphasising the stress associated with commuting as well as some ways in which we try to overcome it will strike a cord with many.
The worst problems identified by commuters was a lack of space, loud music, delays and bad smells. Dr Williams said ‘Commuting stress us something most of us can relate to. It can affect a person’s physical and psychological wellbeing and can lead to conflict at home and poor performance at work’ (Scotsman, 20.04.07, p.20) . The report identifies nine ways commuters cope;
- Self-generated audio coping (Singing / humming / talking to yourself
- Planning for the day ahead or after work activities
- Cognitive work (Reading, writing)
- Emotional focused coping (anger at other commuters, admiring attractive people)
- Phychological / medical support (Seeking counselling or medication to cope with stress)
- Other generated audio coping (Listening to music or an audio book)
- Oral gratification (Chewing gum, talking on a mobile phone, chatting with other commuters, eating)
- Sustance use (tobacco and alcohol)
- Religious / spiritual (meditating and praying)
14% of those who took part had low levels of resilience and therefore using simple coping techniques, such as singing, talking or reading had little effect. Results such as this, are interesting, but beg the fundamental question of whether we should be working smarter, such as working from home, or commuting outside peak hours to further avoid this stress altogether. National work from home day takes place on 18th May, and with working from home just one day a week having the ability to reduce congestion up to 20%, adding this smarter and more flexible approach to the daily 9 to 5 ‘beat the stress’ list would add to the stress survival rates of some 25 million commuters.