Looking haggard: daily commute causing undue stress

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If women around your office are looking a little worse for wear, it could be because their daily commute is stressing them to the brink.

Recent research by the London School of Economics showed that, even though men average longer commute times, women feel the stress of travelling more acutely.

Published in the Journal of Health Economics, the research revealed that while men were generally unaffected by commuting, commuting tended to have a negative effect on the mental health of women.

The researchers explained that, with the knowledge that commuting takes up a considerable amount of time for all working people, they set out to determine what effects the daily commute might have on the psychological health of both males and females. Their research led them to believe that women were more liable to feel the stress of travelling due to spending (on average) more time on housework and childcare.

Women, especially those with children, were more likely to add daily errands – such as food shopping and dropping-off and picking-up children from childcare – to their commute, Jennifer Roberts from the University of Sheffield said. “These time-constraints and the reduced flexibility that comes with them make commuting stressful in a way that it wouldn't be otherwise.”

The research also revealed the toll was greater on mothers with pre-school age children, and the psychological effect on them was found to be four times greater than for men with children of the same age. Unexpectedly, the study also found that even childless females in long-term relationships were also more affected than men.

For those feeling stressed and on edge due to the daily grind, the UK Heart Research authority responded to the study with the following tips:


  • If flexible hours are not possible, try leaving home a bit earlier and go to a gym near your place of work, or stay on longer after work and go for a run or walk near the office. Aim to avoid the rush hour and get some exercise.   
  • If you arrive home late, avoid caffeine and alcohol, eat a light and healthy meal rich in fruit and vegetables. This will help you sleep better.   
  • Eat a healthy breakfast.   
  • If you drive to work, keep healthy snacks, such as dried fruit, unsalted nuts, and a bottle of water, in your car. This will also help prevent impulse buys if you have to stop at the gas (petrol) station.   
  • Try organizing a car pool with colleagues or friends so that the fuel costs and driving can be shared. Having company in the car will probably make those traffic jam moments less stressful.


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