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Is Your Morning Commute Hurting Your Job?

Bumper to bumper traffic, a ticking clock, and nearby drivers edging to get around you all add to the stress of your morning commute. Now a new study has shown that it’s not just your health that can suffer, but your job too.

It’s not news that a long morning commute causes stress. Nor would it surprise most people to learn that commute-related stress can cause negative health consequences. Who hasn’t gotten a headache waiting in a gridlock on the freeway as emergency responders cleared an accident ahead of you?

What is new is a study done by Annie Barreck of the University of Montreal’s School of Industrial Relations. It shows that the stress of your morning commute can actually contribute to your burnout at work.

According to her study, the time you are in the car and the environment you are driving to can both affect the degree of burnout you experience on the job. Commuters traveling to suburban and particularly rural environments had less stressful experiences. That correlated with lower reports of the three types of professional burnout: emotional burnout, cynicism and professional efficacy.

And carpooling doesn’t help. Despite the expected outcome, Barreck found that passengers in carpools were actually more stressed than the drivers. She says:

“Carpooling reduces the passenger commuters’ sense of control, which causes them more stress before they’ve even arrived at work.”

Using public transportation had its own kind of stress.

“Public transit implies bus or train connections, and as rural regions are less well served, the risk of unforeseeable and uncontrollable delays is increased, causing stress that is carried over into the workplace.”

That stress translated into feeling less effective in the workplace.

How Michigan’s Morning Commute Measures Up

Since environment is key, you may be wondering how Michigan measures up to notoriously poor commute cities like Los Angeles and New York. A recent survey by Bankrate.com ranked U.S. cities based on road conditions, auto insurance rates, commute times and crashes. All things considered, Michigan pulled in just above average – 21st out of all 50 states.

How You Can Avoid Commute-Related Burnout

Just because you can’t work from home doesn’t mean you are doomed to the professional doldrums. Finding ways to shave time off your commute, change up your route, or even improve the atmosphere in your car can help. Here are some tips:

  • Leave extra time. You won’t be stressed by traffic back-ups.
  • Get comfortable. Use lumbar pillows and relaxing music to make your car a nice place to be.
  • Try different routes. The change in scenery can help relieve stress and make your trip enjoyable.

By taking steps to remove commute-related stress you can make yourself healthier and happier on the job and avoid the nasty traffic accidents that come from too many cars on the road.

David Christensen is an auto accident attorney at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan. If you or someone you know has been in a serious car crash, contact Christensen Law today for a free consultation.