Traffic congestion is among the world’s most pressing issues. It’s causing millions of people time, money, and energy every single day. Some major cities have it worse than others. In Bangkok, Thailand, commuters, and drivers waste about 64 hours a year in traffic. This is caused by ten million cars that congest in highways. In Los Angeles, U.S.A., people waste 100 hours a year. This is costing them about $2,800 a year.
In Manila, Philippines, people experience the second worse traffic situation in the world. Commuters and drivers spend an estimate of 257 hours per year.
But traffic is not the only challenge that commuters experience. There’s also the issue of public transportation. It’s a constant battle between you and the jam-packed buses, long-lines at stations, and unreliable train services. On good days when you feel that you can afford a car service, you can’t even book a ride!
Commuting is especially terrible for busy students and professionals such as yourself. It wastes your time. Instead of accomplishing tasks or catching up on sleep, you’re forced to endure the long journey home.
On the bright side, millions of people recently transitioned to online learning and/or remote working. They don’t waste precious hours anymore on commuting.
From Sleep to Work in an Instant
Quarantine restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic led to schools and business to close their physical establishments. All work is now done online. You’ve been able to catch up on more hours of fitful sleep.
You’ve also been more productive and wise with your time. So wise that you move straight from the bed to the desk in a blink of an eye. All you need to do is brush your hair a little to remove traces of sleep. Then, lo and behold, you’re ready for a Zoom call. No one would know that you haven’t brush your teeth yet.
The hours you used to dedicate to commuting are suddenly free. It feels liberating. But you might have found this disorienting though. Perhaps you feel that something is missing. Well, here are the bad and good things that you lost now that you’re not commuting daily.
BAD: Effects on Physical Health
Long commutes cause side effects on our health. A study found that workers who commute more than 20 miles every day developed high blood pressure and high blood sugar than those who have shorter commutes with less than five miles. The arduous tasks also cause extreme headaches and fatigue on the worst of days.
GOOD: Interesting Scenery and People
A lot of us don’t spend enough time outdoors. We often move from one indoor space to another. But commuting is a common excuse to take in the bustling life outdoors. Even if you’re only staring out the car window and your eyes trailing the bright lines of the primer-coated road markings, you’re still outside. You’re still taking in the environment.
Commuting is also a great way for you to see a lot of interesting people. You get to see families bonding together, or best friends engaging in humorous gossip. Sure, you’re not interacting with them. But seeing these people remind you how different yet the same we all are.
BAD: Effects on Mental Health
After spending all day at work being chewed out by your boss, all you would want is a delicious meal, a stiff drink, and a warm bath. But no, unfortunately, you had to get on the road first. This exacerbates feelings of stress.
Daily commuting also led to unbalanced sleeping habits. To catch the train, skip long queues, or get ahead of the rush hour, you had to get up early in the morning–as in the-sun-isn’t-even-up-yet-so-why-should-you kind of early morning. But you also end up sleeping late because you came home late.
GOOD: Quality Time with Yourself
While commuting, you’re surrounded by strangers that you may or may not run into again. This allows you to have some me-time. You wore your earbuds, blasted a podcast or some music, and drowned the world away.
You even used the time to do some small activities that you couldn’t do any other time of the day such as reading or playing mobile games.
Students and/or professionals always dreaded commuting. It’s a complete waste of time. But now that’s not part of our daily routine, we might actually miss it. On good days, commuting is an excuse for us to step away from our responsibilities, breathe, and spend time with ourselves. But because it has serious health effects, it’s good to remind ourselves to be grateful that we don’t have to do it much anymore.