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Traffic Jams Can Cause Major Mental Health Issues


Traffic Jams Can Cause Major Mental Health Issues

It seems that getting stuck in traffic jams on a regular or daily basis might do a number on your mental health, but how serious can it get?

It's a thought that most of us have come across every time we find ourselves stuck motionless in the countless traffic jams so far in our lives. But going through it almost every day of the week carries a serious toll not only on the body but the mind as well.

traffic jam mental health disorder*Image credit: Sales Ninja

Depression and anxiety are real

Associate Prof Dr Muhammad Muhsin Ahmad Zahari, a senior consultant psychiatrist at Universiti Malaya, stated that mental health issues like depression and anxiety can occur if you find yourselves constantly in traffic congestion.

As reported by The Star, Dr Muhammad said, "The stress will increase if the person is often late for work and is reprimanded or given a warning by the employer, which in turn affects his/her emotion and work productivity."

If you dive a little more into mental health issues, you will also know and understand that there's a huge chance that it'll affect your physical health as well. Things like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, blurred vision, and many more could escalate to dangerous levels if not taken care of.

traffic jam mental health disorder*Image credit: The Star

9am - 6pm needs to be 'flexible' again

Throughout the Movement Control Order (MCO) which presented itself thanks to COVID-19, a lot of companies learned and implemented flexible working arrangements in terms of time and location. What used to be a normal working hour basis at the office was reinvented for the sake of safety and to protect our people.

This led to a few things. The first was that a lot of companies learned that not having their staff at the office during normal working hours doesn't mean that work grinds to a halt. In fact, some companies even thrived from a more flexible working format in terms of time and place.

For some, it was a blessing to not have to wake up early and leave the house before the sun rises just to make sure that they'll arrive at the office in the middle of KL for example before 9.00 am or before they're deemed 'late' by their employers.

traffic jam mental health disorder*Image credit: NST

Leave early, or get stuck (for hours)

I myself live in Bangi and with my office located in Mid Valley (not even the heart of KL), I have to make sure to leave the house by 6.30 am just so that I won't get caught in that nasty traffic jam right after the Sungai Besi toll plaza.

A lot of folks depend on this route to get to their work locations, and the congestion has indeed gotten worse after all the travel restrictions were lifted by the Malaysian government upon entering the endemic phase.

As of now, many companies are reverting back to normal working hours, which means that a lot of people who want to avoid getting stuck in the worsening traffic jam will need to leave before the sun rises and return home after the sun sets. That's especially sad for those with families, and that's yet another nail in the mental health coffin.

traffic jam mental health disorder

What can be done?

Not getting stuck in traffic jams require some high-level time management skills. Waking up early, getting everything sorted earlier like preparing breakfast and sending the kids to school, and leaving for work just before the traffic jams hit their peaks are all vital.

Companies, on the other hand, can and should continue with the flexible working hours which were practised even before we entered the endemic phase. It's like the same strategy that major highway concessionaires use to inform motorists of the best times to travel to which destinations during festive periods.

Deputy Minister of Human Resources, Datuk Awang Hashim, stated that employees in Malaysia could apply for the Flexible Working Arrangements (FWA) with its employers starting 1 September 2022, but that has been pushed to 2023.

traffic jam mental health disorder*Image credit: The Vulcan Post

Apart from flexible working hours, a rotation system could also work but this form of implementation needs to be checked for suitability based on the company's business or operations. It is possible with a bit of planning and calculation.

We've done it before, why can't we do it again or just continue with the flexible flow? 

"Your mental health is everything – prioritize it. Make the time like your life depends on it, because it does." (Mel Robbins)

Sep Irran Halid

Sep Irran Halid

Content Producer

Sep is a firm believer in the saying "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast" rather than "When in doubt, throttle it out". Drive safely, ride defensively, and most importantly, don't get hangry.

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