Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Be Happy – Make Your Commute Happier.

Every one of those is not lucky to have the workplace at stone-throw distance. Commuting is regular travel between one's place of residence and place of work, full time study or for some other purpose. It sometimes refers to any regular or often repeated traveling between locations. As bigger the distance, the consumption of time, energy and/or money becomes bigger.

Before the 19th century, most workers lived less than an hour's walk from their work. With the growth of population, due to the opportunities of work available far away, gap between the availability of their place and actual residing places of the workers has been increasing day by day. Today, many people travel daily to work a long way from their own towns, cities, and villages, especially in industrialized societies. Depending on factors such as the high cost of housing in city centers, lack of public transit, and traffic congestion, modes of travel may include automobiles, motorcycles, trains, buses, and bicycles.

Couples in which one partner commutes for longer than 45 minutes are 40 percent likelier to divorce. Perhaps long transit times exacerbate corrosive marital inequalities, with one partner overburdened by child care and the other overburdened by work. Commuting is a migraine-inducing life-suck—a mundane task about as pleasurable as assembling flat-pack furniture or getting your license renewed, and you have to do it every day. If you are commuting, you are not spending quality time with your loved ones. You are not exercising, doing challenging work, having sex, petting your dog, playing with your kids, or having happy time with your spouse. You are not doing any of the things that make human beings happy. Instead, you are getting nauseous on a bus, jostled on a train, or cut off in traffic.

People with long transit times suffer from disproportionate pain, stress, obesity, and dissatisfaction. The joy of living in a big, exurban house, or that extra income left over from your cheap rent? It is almost certainly not worth it. Commuting in the morning appears particularly unpleasant

That unpleasantness seems to have a spillover effect: making us less happy in general.40 percent of employees who spend more than 90 minutes getting home from work experienced worry for much of the previous day. That number falls to 28 percent for those with negligible commutes of 10 minutes or less. Workers with very long commutes feel less rested and experience less enjoyment, as well.

Those stressful hours spent listening to drive-time radio do not merely make us less happy. They also make us less healthy. One in three workers with a 90-minute daily commute has recurrent neck or back problems. Our behaviors change as well, conspiring to make us less fit: When we spend more time commuting, we spend less time exercising and fixing ourselves meals at home. Long commutes also tend to increase the chance that a worker will make "non-grocery food purchases"—buying things like fast food—and will shift into "lower-intensity" exercise. If we compare a worker with a negligible commute and a 12-hour workday and a worker with an hour-long commute and a 10-hour workday, we may find that the former will have healthier habits than the latter, even though total time spent on the relatively stressful, unpleasant tasks is equal.

Plus, overall, people with long commutes are fatter, and national increases in commuting time are posited as one contributor to the obesity epidemic. Researchers at the University of California–Los Angeles, and Cal State–Long Beach, for instance, looked at the relationship between obesity and a number of lifestyle factors, such as physical activity. Vehicle-miles traveled had a stronger correlation with obesity than any other factor.

So, in summary: We hate commuting. It correlates with an increased risk of obesity, divorce, neck pain, stress, worry, and sleeplessness. It makes us eat worse and exercise less. Yet, we keep on doing it.

Indeed, average one-way commuting time has steadily crept up over the course of the past five decades, and now sits at 24 minutes (although we routinely under-report the time it really takes us to get to work). About one in six workers commutes for more than 45 minutes, each way.

Why do people suffer through it? The answer mostly lies in a phrase forced on us by real-estate agents: "Drive until you qualify." Many of us work in towns or cities where houses are expensive. The further we move from work, the more house we can afford. Given the choice between a cramped two-bedroom apartment 10 minutes from work and a spacious four-bedroom house 45 minutes from it, we often elect the latter.

For decades, economists have been warning us that when we buy at a distance, we do not tend to take the cost of our own time into account. All the way back in 1965, for instance, the economist John Kain wrote, it is "crucial that, in making longer journeys to work, households incur larger costs in both time and money. Since time is a scarce commodity, workers should demand some compensation for the time they spend in commuting." But we tend not to, only taking the tradeoff between housing costs and transportation costs into question.

How much would we need to be compensated to make up for the hellish experience of a long commute? Two economists at the University of Zurich, Bruno Frey and Alois Stutzer, actually went about quantifying it, in a now famous 2004 paper entitled "Stress That Doesn't Pay: The Commuting Paradox." They found that for an extra hour of commuting time, you would need to be compensated with a massive 40 percent increase in salary to make it worthwhile.

But wait: Isn't the big house and the time to listen to the whole Dylan catalog worth something as well? Sure, researchers say, but not enough when it comes to the elusive metric of happiness. Given the choice between that cramped apartment and the big house, we focus on the tangible gains offered by the latter. We can see that extra bedroom. We want that extra bathtub. But we do not often use them. And we forget that additional time in the car is a constant, persistent, daily burden—if a relatively invisible one.

Do not take it lightly. People who say, "My commute is killing me!" are not exaggerators. They are realists.

Most of the workers and office goers have to travel at the same time for reaching their place of work, in the morning and coming back in the evening to their place of residence or halt making rush hours, to create congestion on roads and public transport systems. We usually see long traffic-jams during rush hour and face extreme pollution.

How can you come over the problems of commuting? People who drive 30 to 60 minutes to work are even worse off than those who have hour-plus commutes. That may be because longer routes tend to go through tranquil countryside with less traffic, and because those who live there tend to be higher-paid, healthier guys to begin with. The people who drive or take public transportation to work get less sleep, are more frazzled, and report being in worse health than those who pedal or hoof it. The stress and fatigue of navigating highways and train schedules seems to wear them down after a while, and it doesn’t help that commuting cuts into their time for social and physical activities..

To make your commuting enjoyable, you can try these tips to make your daily drive more relaxed, comfortable, and safe:

  • Take the scenic route. If it doesn’t add much time to your commute, drive on roads with more trees and grass—natural scenes decrease feelings of anger and frustration on the road.
  • Get comfortable. Long drives can be a pain in your lower back, shoulders, neck, knee, and sometimes hips. You must make sure your car’s lumbar support is pushed forward enough to support your lower back. To ease neck and shoulder pain, you may lower the tilt of your steering wheel and hold it at 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock and let your shoulders relax.
  • Don’t crank the heat. Regardless of the weather outside, warm conditions inside your car decrease your ability to pay attention. For optimum comfort and vigilance, keep your temperature set to around 70 degrees.
  • Choose your favorite tunes. If you spend lots of time and stop-and-go traffic, this tip’s for you. Drivers who faced frustrating and irritating congestion felt less stressed when listening to music they enjoyed.
  • Listen to podcasts. Search for a show that interests you, but doesn’t distract you. You want an activity that your brain can filter if it needs to do so, but that is not so boring that you ignore it.
  • Change your mindset. Let’s face it—congestion is nerve-wracking no matter what’s on your stereo. So control the factors you can and let go of the rest. Leave early enough that you’re not anxious about getting to work on time, and give other drivers the benefit of the doubt if they make a bonehead move. Much driver stress is bound up with hostility to other drivers.This stress not only harms your health, it also increases your risk of getting in an accident.
  • Make Groups. When you have got schedule of going daily or very frequently on the same route, you may try to make groups of those who you find are having the schedules similar to you. Befriending with them can make your journeys more enjoyable. Sometime, in case of emergency, it helps a lot too. You can have some play-cards, chess and other games with you to pass the stressful commuting. You can share your snacks and experiences. Together journey can solve a number of social and financial problems too.

Be Happy – Make Your Commute Happier.

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