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How your daily commute is impacting your well-being

A new study looking at the link between commuting and personal well-being highlights a trend in life dissatisfaction.

Findings from a study conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have revealed that commuters are more likely to experience feelings of anxiety and life dissatisfaction than workers who do not have to travel to work – even if they are on higher salaries.

Four measures were used in the study to analyse personal well-being: life satisfaction, to what extent the respondent felt the things they did in life were worthwhile, whether the commuters were happy and whether they were anxious.

Although the overall effect of commuting on well-being was small, it was found that each additional minute of commuting time made respondents feel slightly worse up to a certain point. The negative effects only wore off if the commute hit the three-hour mark.

The study also compared the effects of commuting in a private mode of transport – a car, minibus or works van – compared to public forms of transport such as trains, buses, walking and cycling. The results showed that those travelling to work by bus or coach had lower levels of life satisfaction and a lower sense that their daily activities were worthwhile.

This is hardly surprising considering the nature of bus or train travel, particularly in large cities, in which cramped, uncomfortable commutes are common.

Interestingly, a higher salary wasn’t enough to make up for the effects on well-being caused by commuting. The published report said:

“Given the loss of personal well-being generally associated with commuting, the results suggest that other factors such as higher income or better housing may not fully compensate the individual commuter for the negative effects associated with travelling to work and that people may be making sub-optimal choices.”

It does add however, that the financial benefits of commuting to a well-paid job are passed on to other members of the commuter’s household, meaning they are sacrificing themselves for other people’s well-being and satisfaction.

If your daily commute and work-life is making you feel down and anxious, why not consider alternative therapy treatment? For more information and advice about the benefits of complementary medicine on well-being, see our therapy topics page. 

View and comment on the original Guardian article.

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Tamara Marshall

Written by Tamara Marshall

Written by Tamara Marshall

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