These are the most stressful cities for travelers, data shows

The American Institute of Stress defines a stressful situation as one that most commonly causes “physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension.” For millions of Americans this likely sounds a lot like their daily commute, especially among those required to return to the office after a long period of remote work.

According to the website, more erratic commutes can take a toll on one’s mental health, with longer daily commutes often disrupting one’s work/life balance and leading to burnout. In addition to the discomfort and frustration suffered from sitting in his slow-moving car, difficult journeys can cause anxiety caused by what amounts to a loss of control, leading to feelings of helplessness and frustration. Perhaps not surprisingly, a study by the University of Montreal showed that those who undergo longer commutes are more likely to experience chronic stress.

Increasing congestion on the nation’s highways, combined with high gas prices, rising auto insurance rates and ongoing operating costs are making Americans’ daily commutes more arduous than ever. But drivers in some parts of the country — and in other countries — tend to be more or less anxious behind the wheel than others.

Measuring stress levels on the highway

According to a travel study of the 30 largest cities in North America, the UK and Europe by personal finance site, the worst of the bunch in the US can be found in the Los Angeles metro area, the which Website is considered the second most stressful daily commute on the planet, second only to London.

Global metropolitan areas are ranked according to their applicable “Stress Places,” which were determined by meticulously using monitors to track heart rate (BPM) and heart rate variance (HRV) experienced by 300 drivers over a period five-day in the top 30. cities in North America, UK and Europe. For the uninitiated, the former is a measurement of heart rate, which is generally lower when relaxed, while the latter measures the time between beats per minute, with lower levels indicating higher stress.

Drivers in London, which tops the table, recorded a stress score of 92 out of a possible 100 points. Traffic congestion was found to increase Londoners’ average resting heart rate by 25% (18 BPM), while also causing heart rate variance to decrease by 33%.

Traffic was cited as a major source of highway stress by 54% of respondents, followed by the questionable skill of other drivers at 52% and road layout and conditions at 26%.

In contrast, Stockholm is the least stressful major city for travelers with a score of just 12/100. This results from a nominal 3% increase in heart rate while driving and a small 5% decrease in HRV, both of which indicate low levels of stress behind the wheel. Below we present lists of the most and least difficult round trips, here and abroad.

Coping skills

How best to deal with the growing burnout that results from a particularly grueling daily battle through traffic jams? Assuming that taking public transportation or carpooling isn’t an option, recruiting firm Robert Half offers these tips to help car-bound workers deal with the inevitable traffic:

  • Leave it 15 minutes before. Getting yourself out the door ahead of schedule can help make for less grueling travel times.
  • Be strategic. Try alternative routes and journeys to and from work at different times of the day and plan around the least congested combination, although this will likely require having a more flexible work schedule than some employers may allow.
  • Keep a regular schedule. That said, some travelers find it difficult for their mental and physical well-being to maintain a flexible schedule, in which case maintaining specific wake-up and departure times may be less stressful in the long run.
  • Take control of the environment. Adjust the driver’s seat for maximum comfort and enjoy a relaxing (or stimulating) music genre, listen to podcasts or audiobooks, or catch up on calls (hands-free of course) with friends or family to pass the time more pleasantly.
  • Pack snacks. Sitting in traffic is bad enough, but it can become much more stressful if one is hungry. Keep protein bars and water bottles in the car or in a desk drawer for a boost before you hit the long drive home.

The most stressful trips in the USA

These are the US cities where drivers face the most harrowing daily commutes, with their stress scores based on the measured heart rates and heart rate variations of 300 drivers over a five-day period in 30 cities largest in North America. Great Britain and Europe:

  1. Los Angeles: 84/100
  2. San Francisco: 78/100
  3. New York: 64/100
  4. Miami: 51/100
  5. Philadelphia: 48/100
  6. Boston: 40/100

The worst cities outside the US for travelers

Think your commute is bad? These are the world capitals where a daily commute to and from the office can be particularly challenging:

  1. London, England: 92/100
  2. Paris, France: 84/100
  3. Cardiff, Wales: 67/100
  4. Rome, Italy: 55/100
  5. Glasgow, Scotland: 55/100
  6. Istanbul, Turkey: 54/100
  7. Bristol, England: 52/100

The world’s least stressful cities to drive to work in

Here’s where travelers have the easiest day trips with their lowest stress scores listed:

Stockholm. Sweden: 12/100

Berlin, Germany: 15/100

Toronto, Canada: 15/100

Montreal, Canada: 22/100

Sydney Australia: 24/100

Brussels, Belgium: 26/100

Leeds, England: 26/100

Edinburgh, Scotland: 28/100

Manchester, England: 28/100

Dublin, Ireland: 29/100


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