10 Things You Can Do To Make Traffic Less Stressful
Driving in Manila is a nightmare. Jaywalking pedestrians, belligerent bus drivers and perpetually congested roads all make me want to claw my eyes out with a spoon.
Every year, traffic costs the country P140 billion in lost productivity. It’s responsible for millions of illnesses. It turns the air into a toxic soup. And worst of all, it robs us of our time. Hours that could be spent with family and friends are instead consumed sitting in a small metal box listening to the same Top 40 hits ad nauseum.
And it’s not just me. Other writers on When In Manila have written about the absurdity of Manila traffic before.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like traffic is going anywhere anytime soon. Although the government is building more roads and public transportation, it may not be enough to stem the tide of a rising urban population. Traffic may be the reality of life in Manila for the foreseeable future.
But don’t despair. There are a few things you can do to make it less of a burden.
10 Things You Can Do To Make Traffic Less Stressful
1. Listen to Classical Music.
A survey conducted by Populus found that drivers who listened to classical and pop music were more relaxed at the wheel while rock and metal fans were more prone to road rage.
It doesn’t end there. Studies have shown that classical music has a boatload of positive effects, from lowering your blood pressure to fostering brain development in children.
So the next time you pop in a CD, make it Mozart, not Metallica.
Another way to make your daily commute easier is to carpool. Not only will you save money on gas this way, but you’ll have someone to talk to on long rides, too.
The best thing about carpooling, though, is that you’ll also be doing a public service. By reducing the number of cars on the road, you can cut down on both traffic and pollution.
And, just like everything else, there’s an app for it, as well. Tripid, available on both the App Store and Google Play, connects people who want to find or share rides.
3. Listen to a Podcast.
Fed up with the constant commercial interruptions and the cheesy sound effects of Pinoy talk radio?
Podcasts are a great way of passing the time on long commutes. There’s literally something for everybody.
History buffs may want to check out Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. Geeks may enjoy Chris Hardwick’s Nerdist podcast. And basketball fans should listen to The Jalen Rose Report.
4. Honk Your Horn Less.
Manileños who visit the provinces are always surprised to hear how quiet it is at night. However, the truth is simply that Manila is just too noisy.
In fact, researchers from the Danish Cancer Society found that people who live with louder sounds of traffic near their homes have a higher risk of heart attack and a 12% increase in risk for every additional 10 decibels of noise.
So, save your horn for emergencies. Keep it quiet on the road and maybe other drivers will do the same.
5. Listen to Audiobooks.
Traffic doesn’t have to be a waste of time.
Instead of listening to Pharrell’s “Happy” every 30 minutes, you could learn a new language, study the history of the Middle East or finally finish that Dostoevsky novel you keep telling people you’ve already read but actually haven’t. Of course, you can listen to your favorite authors, as well.
Audiobooks are available online or in CD or audio tape form at any of the major bookstores in the country.
6. Make Yourself More Comfortable.
Comfort is key to a stress-free driving experience.
Adjust your seat, so that you are a comfortable distance from the steering wheel and pedals. Get back supports, seat cushions or neck pillows. Wear comfortable clothing and footwear. Protect your eyes with sunglasses. Most importantly, keep yourself cool. You don’t want to have a heatstroke, after all.
If you live in Manila, you’re in traffic for at least an hour everyday. The least you can do is pamper yourself.
7. Avoid Road Rage.
There’s no shortage of reasons to be angry in Manila traffic. My pet peeve is pedestrians who’d rather play patintero crossing the street than walk a few more yards to an elevated walkway.
But road rage is pointless. Your anger is not going to make traffic go faster. It’s not going to make other people follow the rules. It might even get you killed. So calm down.
If you think that you can’t control your anger, seek professional help.
8. Take Breaks.
We’ve all been there: stuck in a traffic jam at rush hour as time (and your sanity) slowly slips away.
It’s always a good idea to stop and take a breather when this happens, especially if your commute lasts an hour or more. Grab a bite, stretch or check your Facebook. Even just 10-15 minutes will already be good for your body and help break the monotony of traffic. Trust me – your lower back and legs will thank you for it.
9. Stop Using Your Phone.
Can’t stop checking your text messages while driving? Cut it out: you put yourself and others in danger every time you pick up that phone.
In fact, why not unplug altogether? Turn off your phone and enjoy a few precious minutes free from beeps, notifications and ringtones.
10. Keep Yourself Well Hydrated.
The sweltering tropical heat isn’t kind to Manila. The lack of trees and the endless miles of concrete and asphalt make for record-setting temperatures.
So, drink up. According to WebMD, there is a clear link between water and stress reduction. Dehydration causes cortisol levels to rise leading to more stress.
Keep a bottle of water in your car everyday.