Jobs may be hard to find in USA. More people spend longer times commuting back and forth to work. Does that add stress to your workday? How many hours should it take to commute to and from work?
Does commuting stress exist?
According to statistics collected in 2013, about 25 minutes each way was the average commuting time. That accounts for rural and suburban areas. Workers in metropolitan areas have the longest and higher time consuming commutes of more than 90 minutes each way. That means, in addition to the 8 or more hours spent at work, about 3 hours is spent commuting. San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington D.C. have extremely long commutes compared to most USA areas.
Accidents, road blocks and routine repairs often clog even the best of speedways. A 30-minute trip can become hours. And time drags at a nerve-racking pace.
Commuting stress is often like helplessness and this is a form of severe stress. You are helpless when it happens. You will be equally helpless with each clogged traffic incidence. If it’s routine, helplessness becomes hopelessness.
Early theories of stress are associated with the fight or flight response that are keys to survival. Biochemical responses activate hormones such as adrenaline, nor-epinephrine, and cortisol. There are several others involved. As possible results of repetitive stress, some of these stressful responses might lead to endocrine disorders like Graves’ disease, gonadal dysfunction, psycho-sexual dwarfism and obesity. While commuting stress may not lead to these results, it can exhaust the body to be sensitive to many lighter chronic diseases over time.
As rush-hour traffic lengthens trips to and from work routinely, with or without delays due to accidents, long commutes build commuting stress conditions such as sleep dysfunctions and greater susceptibilities to colds. Indirectly, it may contribute to obesity when you are sitting behind the wheel for so long that you have no energy to exercise.
While commuting is necessary for most to find decent employment, commuting stress may lead to many health conditions that may be hazardous to your he3alth. Cortisol, a vital hormone that helps your body react to stress will break down to another form called glucocorticoids in your blood stream. Constant glucocorticoid accumulation might have influences on carbohydrate metabolism, inflammatory processes, shock, and water balance.
Not frequent but feasible, continued chronic stress may bring about glucocorticoid toxicity in your body. This has been shown to affect the hippocampus, a limbic structure of your brain that has been found to play an important in learning and memory. The hippocampus is associated with the storage of long-term memories through REM dream cycles. Recurrent sleep dysfunctions that might associate with commuting stress might (over time) result in memory disorders.
Damage to the hippocampus can lead to loss of memory and difficulty in establishing new memories. In Alzheimer’s disease, the hippocampus is one of the first regions of the brain to be affected, leading to the confusion and loss of memory so commonly seen in the early stages of the disease.
There are many drivers that can drive to their 90’s without suffering memory loss. Yet, few studies have factored whether commuting stress might contribute to certain cognitive issues.
Many roads were not planned to cope with current car use. Road accidents do happen. Yet many are dependent on cars for traveling 50 or more miles to and from work. When an expected hour drive becomes a stodgy 3 hour drive, there is considerable wear and tear on the driver or bus rider. Commuting stress develops when there are no alternatives. There are no choices of flight so you must bite on your lip and take it.
Perhaps there’s a latent sadomasochistic experience that make drivers crave commuter stress by living so far from work. It is more likely that socioeconomic and passionate variables factor into the continual grind of long-distance commuting. Commuter or commuting stress leaves you bound and imprisoned in the tedium of routine commutes. In many areas this is a necessity and part of life.
Commuting stress and its possible effects stem from how well you adapt to the routine punishment of long distance commuting. When stress is a state of normal, it may no longer seem stressful. It is part of life and living. The weight of benefits and consequences hang in the balance. Where no alternatives exist, you take the best road to make you happy while you listen to streams from your smartphone. Please don’t text and drive.