Delhi traffic woes: Here’s how you can deal with traffic-induced stress
Delhi’s traffic jams are inevitable — they spare no one, unless you have a red or blue beacon on your car’s roof and traffic cops clearing the way for you. For many of us in the Capital, reaching work or college on time during the peak traffic hours is a daily struggle. So when you have a meeting to attend at 9.30 in the morning, and you are stuck in a seemingly never-ending traffic jam, the situation can get on your nerves. By 9.25 am, you might end up yelling a few of Dilliwallahs’ favourite cuss-words at others, and honk constantly as if it were your birth right. In the end, you will reach your meeting late, distressed and frustrated. If the situation sounds familiar, then be warned: this stress can have an adverse effect on your health.
A recent study by Louis-Philippe Beland and Daniel Brent of Louisiana State University highlights how traffic stress can lead to cases of road rage. Another study conducted by IBM a few years ago suggested that Delhiites are stressed the most during peak traffic hours. We got in touch with experts Dr Pulkit Sharma and Dr Anil Sethi to understand why one gets stressed during traffic jams and how one can deal with it. Here’s what we found:
This is why you get stressed
1) Delays: Peak traffic hours consists of people struggling to get to work on time. The fear of reaching late to work leads to nervousness and frustration with oneself and others, which often leads to road rage. And there is nothing the driver can do about traffic jams in the city as they are unpredictable. So despite, your best efforts (checking GPS before leaving home, planning in advance, etc.) you might find yourself amid one.
2 ) Impatience: Bad driving, repeatedly switching lanes and drivers constantly honking on the road also cause one to get impatient and angry. Many drivers are hot-headed and end up confronting other drivers for trivial reasons. People who don’t adhere to traffic rules also cause road rage.
3) Boredom: During a long ride, there’s hardly anything that the drivers can do, other than keep an eye on the road. Long traffic jams can get boring and can make the drivers restless. And sometimes drivers start talking on phone to kill time. The driver also begin to feel restless when idle time is forced upon them. Due to staying in one posture for a long period of time, they get physically and mentally fatigued. The frustration due to fatigue and slow-moving or stationary traffic can easily result in road rage.
4 ) Ego issues: Many drivers give themselves more importance and completely disregard road safety rules, putting others’ lives at risk. And more often than not, two parties involved in a heated situation fail to admit their mistakes. Dr Anil Sethi says, “Drivers often put self-importance over human life. When they are questioned about their driving they get aggressive.”
Here’s how you can deal with it
1) Awareness: Dr Sethi suggests, “Awareness about traffic rules and safety should be spread. More strict rules and penalties should be imposed so that the drivers stay disciplined on roads.” He adds, “Workshops and campaigns about stress in traffic and how to control anger and frustration while driving should be encouraged.”
2) Plan your itinerary: “Set out an hour early to avoid traffic, plan your itinerary very carefully and try reaching your destination ahead of time,” Dr Sharma says. Check for traffic congestion on various GPS applications on your phone before leaving for work, this will help you choose the right route to reach on time. Starting your travel an hour before the peak traffic is a good idea as it will make it easier to reach work on time, and your drive would be less frustrating.
3) Stress management: Deep breathing and wrist exercises during a traffic jam help you remain calm. Setting off on your commute with positive thoughts and attitude also helps in having a less frustrating drive. Talking to family, friends or anyone closely related to you also helps in relieving stress. “You should try managing your stress everywhere — at home, at work or while driving. Practise yoga and meditation in your free time to feel good and calm,” says Dr Sethi.
4) Occupy yourself: Think of ways to occupy yourself during a traffic jam to avoid any restlessness. Listen to good music, a podcast of your interest or an audio book to help you distract from the stress from the road. Carpool with your colleagues or friends that share the same route if you are travelling long distances. Dr Sharma says, “Keep yourself occupied during a traffic jam. Think of new ways to avoid any frustration on road. Carry anything that makes you feel good while driving such as a refreshing drink or good and calming music.”
Most annoying thing about Delhi’s traffic as shared by Delhiites
“In a traffic jam, honking is really infuriating and I am like ‘why don’t you just fly over me if you are in such a hurry,’” says Pranav Sehgal, 20, student.
“People who try to overtake every car on the road and people who argue with other drivers for the smallest reasons possible,” says Mukesh Gupta, 59, businessman.
“The idiots who feel like the whole road is a big zebra crossing get on my nerves,” says Mehak Joshi, 19, student.
“Whenever I have to drop my daughter at the metro station, e-rickshaws and autowallas who block half of the road get me really frustrated,” says Mona Khurana, 42, housewife.
“The drivers who don’t understand the meaning of red light and jump the light at every chance they get are really annoying,” says Shreya Agrawal,19, student.