Does Daily Traffic Affect One’s Mental Health?




Noise and traffic congestion can lead to fatigue, anger, irritability, and stress in commuters, as they are affected by these in many ways. Over-speeding, road rage, and loud honking affect almost everyone when they are stuck in the middle of the street, anticipating the longer than usual hours of commuting. One of the greatest consequences of traffic has been known to be stress.

Stress in itself is a big term with multiple scopes. Psychologically, it could result in anxiety, frustrations at work, or problems in reacting to situations or people. In a cognitive sense, helplessness, lack of control, and lowered tolerance for failure reduce one’s capacity to respond appropriately. He eventually does whatever he thinks is right at that moment.

Physically, on the other hand, a person might experience high blood pressure, body temperature changes, increased activity in the ANS, which is a portion of the nervous system that controls different unconscious bodily functions such as digestion and breathing. Consequently, the immune system’s ability to endure pressure decreases, particularly when activities in the ANS are heightened.

Finally, on a social level, there is a high likelihood of the individual not wanting to work or a desire to take the day off to avoid experiencing the stress caused by traffic. Potential side effects may include people deciding to look for another job because of the fatigue and stress that they go through due to the everyday commute. Others might also become less motivated to get together with family and friends.


Other Implications And Reasons

Although traffic does cause anxiety and stress, other reasons may aggravate the tension.

  • Arguments and spats that happen on the road
  • Disagreements at work or at home that are brought up on the road
  • Impulsive behavior due to traffic jam

The tension and stress are frequently brought at home, where a stressed individual might project his rage towards his partner or kids. It could form a harmful cycle and lead to impulsive driving and road rage the next time he drives and is stuck in traffic.

The Same Traffic Jam, Various Views

Sometimes, it is understood that the same traffic volume could be perceived differently by various kinds of people. Personalities and circumstances could influence an individual’s view of stress. Those who are meticulous of punctuality, time management, and arranging multiple things at the same time are particularly inclined to view traffic congestion as more frustrating and stressful.

Effects Of Noise And Traffic Congestion

According to experts, most people attempt to follow a specific schedule for themselves, but they seldom consider the possibility of a traffic jam. And when a person is in the middle of the road, he tends to feel helpless and lose self-control. Additionally, if a person is engrossed with thoughts and confronted with pressure, traffic, overstimulation, and lots of honking, he is pushed beyond his optimal limits of working, which modifies the way his body recognizes it.


Long hours of commute and the persistent stepping off the accelerator and brakes could further lead to fatigue. Emotionally and mentally, this could lead to:

  • Trouble making wise decisions
  • Committing errors
  • Difficulty communicating
  • Memory lapses
  • Relatively shorter attention span
  • Highly irritable
  • Unmotivated
  • Withdrawn and unusually still
  • Lethargic

To oppose this, establishing proper sleep patterns to acquire the rest of your body requirements, drinking lots of water, exercising, eating healthily, and making efforts to balance time between family and work-life can definitely help you cope and overcome the effects of fatigue. There are some instances when stress due to traffic contributes to vehicular accidents.

Below are current accident situations where fatigue, emotional burnout, and traffic stress may have contributed to the unpleasant situation described.

Who Are Most Affected?

Cab, truck, and bus drivers are the ones that are mostly affected by the traffic and long hours of commute. They are continuously experiencing a large amount of tension and have completely no help or mediation when they are stressed or placed in distress situations. Fatigue and stress could increase and be projected as anger, projected onto passers-by and fellow commuters. Individuals with anxiety and panic disorders frequently worry about being stuck in traffic. Perhaps this is due to their concern of not being provided with help and assistance if ever they meet an accident or any road-related problem.


How To Deal With Traffic Stress

One of the best initial steps to do when you’re stress in the middle of traffic is to take deep breaths to remain calm despite the messy situation. Other practical strategies may include:


  • Social awareness meetings and time management programs can definitely help you learn how to deal with stress.
  • You can contribute to the reduction of traffic by carpooling. Drive with regular co-passengers and take turns doing it. This also takes away your focus from the traffic to the people that you’re with, making it easier for you to deal with the situation.
  • Counseling and other mental health services should be made accessible for people who need it, especially those who drive to earn a living. Traffic officers and other people who think they might benefit from counseling should also be welcome to join.


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