The daily commute into and out of Pittsburgh from the outlying suburbs and communities up and down the Ohio River on both the Ohio and West Virginia sides can be quite stressful.

Road construction and bumper-to-bumper traffic in the most congested areas adds long minutes to commuters’ daily travel times. This contributes to the higher stress levels experienced by commuters.

A biological basis to heightened stress

According to some research, people who commute daily to work experience effects on their bodies and minds from the stresses they undergo while traveling to and from their workplaces. Here’s how it plays out.

As traffic backs up, commuters realize the likelihood of their being late increases. As a result, their bodies begin experiencing the “flight or fight” response. As such, the brain sends nerve signals to commuters’ adrenal glands, activating the release of adrenaline. Simultaneously, the body also produces cortisol, a stress hormone.

This causes a spike in both blood pressure and glucose levels, increasing alertness. Yet, you are still inching along in traffic and remain quite far from your goal. Consequently, you struggle to manage this state of chronic stress that you experience at least twice a day, five days a week.

Stress and memory

Chronic stress has been proven to impair memory. Too much cortisol can damage the hippocampus, the portion of the brain associated with memory. The neurons get overloaded and die off when presented with too many stressful situations. It could even wind up being life-threatening.

Solutions for stressful commutes

Unless you plan to move within walking or biking distance of your place of employment, it’s likely that you will just have to learn to manage the stress generated by your daily commute in and out of Pittsburgh. Below are some suggestions to reduce the impact of a stressful commute.

  • Alternate routes based on congestion
  • Listen to classical music
  • Take public transit on alternate days
  • Get an earlier start

Accidents create even more headaches for commuters

Along with the everyday stresses and frustrations that accompany your daily commute to the office or workplace, collisions with other motorists can up the stress ante considerably.

Having to deal with getting car repairs and arranging for alternate transportation to work and elsewhere while your vehicle is being repaired can be really stressful for many commuters who have been involved in accidents. Retaining a legal professional to handle your claim can reduce the stress factor considerably.