Reducing Stress During Commute Issues

By Jessica Glynn, LMSW

There are many situations in our everyday lives that we have no control over. As New Yorkers, one of these frequently stressful matters can be our commutes to work. Whether its subway traffic, an MTA fail, or a train cancellation, we may become inpatient, frustrated, and on the verge of an anxiety attack. 

An anxious response to these situations are often speculation, and we find ourselves asking questions that can’t possibly be answered in that moment: Why is it taking so long? Why is that MTA employee not helping customers? Why is the subway line down? What if I am late to work? The list of questions can go on and on.  But, what if we instead surrendered to the fact that all of this is out of our control? And recognized that none of these questions could really be answered, and even if they could be, we likely wouldn't be satisfied. In taking this approach we may be able to gather some patience, take a deep breath, and relax.  Tell yourself this: I will deal with any of the logistics that follow as they become clearer and within my current state of control. 

Accepting these everyday struggles can help keep our stress levels down. If you get to your subway station and the line is down, there is nothing you can really do but find an alternative route. If the train stops for an extended period of time, there is nothing to be done except to wait until the problem is resolved. Trust me, it will be resolved at some point. Ask yourself, what purpose would it serve to get fired up over this? You might find that it doesn’t serve much of a purpose and only causes undue stress and anxiety for you. The MTA isn’t fueled by your stress, so it literally won’t help the situation. Remain calm and proceed to the alternate route. And if you are in turn late to work, train issues are probably one of your fail proof excuses. It will all work out in some way or another and hopefully you will be able to move on with your day as intended, remaining more balanced throughout the course of your day.

In addition to finding acceptance when we have to cope with issues during our commute, check out our other blog post on self-care strategies for the commuting New Yorker. 

Jessica Glynn is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. If you would like support in prioritizing and taking care of your mental health, contact Cobb Psychotherapy and see how therapy can help.