FEATURES SOCIETY GIST HOW LAGOS TRAFFIC AFFECTS YOUR MENTAL HEALTH By Admin Posted on 2 weeks ago 13 min read 1 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr Traffic on a Lagos road DEMILADE TIWO Lagos is a Mega-city and the most populated and sought after in Nigeria. The British Broadcasting Commission (BBC) in 2017 described Lagos as ‘The city that wont stop growing’ because of how overcrowded the state has been over the years. Residents of Lagos are actually not bothered by the fact that the city is overcrowded but what seems to be their major concern is having to face traffic every day of their lives while journeying from one location to another. The state of traffic congestion in Lagos has now gotten to the length that a driver cannot journey for 15 minutes on a Lagos road without facing one traffic jam or the other. Traffic congestion has been found to disturb mood, lead to frustration and work absence hence Hotjist.com carried out this present study to find out the Psychological effect of traffic on Lagosians. A Clinical Psychologist, Sunny Joseph while speaking with Hotjist.com said people who have been stuck in traffic for long hours tend to be stressed out and they end up taking their stressed state to their various homes. “This stress may often be carried home and the person who is stressed may also misdirect their anger towards their spouse or children,” he said. He further explained that the reason most drivers are angry and aggressive is due to the mental effect the traffic has on them, he added that everyday traffic would make commuters lose motivation or even lose interest in their jobs because of the stress they have to go through every day while going to work. He said, “there is possibility of losing interest in one’s job cos of the traffic or better still not going to work in order to avoid traffic stress”. The psychologist mentioned that frequent road congestion can lead to lack of motivation to meet with loved ones, in the case where a person would have to travel a far distance to see their loved ones the traffic situation of Lagos is capable of discouraging the move. He also mentioned other psychological effects of traffic to be Quarrels on the road, transfer of aggressions, conflicts at home on the issues of the time the partners get home from work and the stress caused by traffic, and also Rash behaviours because of the traffic congestion. Another Psychologist Uzor Rita while speaking with Hotjist.com, gave an instance; “Picture this, you are coming back from work, stressed out and on your way home you are expecting a free road, maybe a little traffic being the fact that its Lagos, you basically prayed that the worst that can happen is that you would spend 30mins tops in traffic. then Boom all of a sudden you spend three hours”. According to her the victim would get home extremely stressed physically and emotionally due to the disappointment and traffic stress the person had to face. “The person would be drained physically, emotionally, some people even get drained financially because they would leave whatever transport they are in an pay twice the amount they had earlier paid just to get out of that congestion” she said. Rita said after an individual gets home extremely late due to the traffic congestion the person might still have to wake up by 5AM in that case not getting enough sleep just to beat traffic. according to her all these stress put together has a negative effect on a persons Psychological state. The Psychologist also said people who suffer some certain kind of phobia or panic disorders such as Claustrophobia and Agoraphobia tend to have panick attack when stuck in traffic because these phobias are triggered by being stuck in a confined space. “The saying that everybody in Lagos traffic is always angry is very true because traffic makes people angry, agitated, irritated and that makes people not to be mentally balanced. Lagos traffic reduces the time that an individual is supposed to spend in sleeping, sleeping is a major way of getting refreshed after the days work and not getting enough rest would affect the mental health negatively” She also mentioned that the traffic tension causes mood swing “a person can be happy and then when they think about how long they are going to spend in the traffic the mood switches. Imagine a situation where you are going to ask someone just coming out of a two hour traffic a question how do you think they will respond”. Hotjist however switched from the psychologist and threw the question to Lagos road users to know if they have been mentally or psychologically affected by the traffic situation of the city. A student Adekoya Gbemisola said being in traffic for a very long time makes her feel nauseous and sometimes she ends up throwing up whenever the panic attack comes adding that the only thing she thinks of at that point is how to get out of that place. “Just sitting in the bus, everywhere is hot, no air, bad odor, then u start feeling nauseous. i could spit out bad words at anyone who talks to me that moment” she said. Nigerian Rugby player Daniel john gave an instance of what he Experienced in traffic sometime ago. “I left Ikorodu around 7AM heading to the island for an interview which was meant to start by 9am, i entered the bus from Agric bus stop i was actually standing in the bus on that day, i stood for three hours and i got a sore feet. i got to the interview some hours late but God helped me i was favored” He said he wouldn’t have imagined what would happen if he had missed the interview. Road user Abifarin Kehinde said, traffic congestion most especially the air pollution that comes with it can contribute to asthma and other respiratory diseases, adding that when a person is down with a sickness caused by being stuck in traffic it affects the mental health. Another Lagos road user Bakare Eniola while speaking with Hotjist said “Traffic leads to stress and stress would lead to loss of focus”. According to her loss of focus and stress put together would lead to mental health burden meaning, the victim would not be in a peaceful state of mind. Now the only question lingering in our hearts in our minds is “What then is the way out?”. Talking about a way out, The state Government has the most role to play. The Government should invest in road extension in order to ease the frequent congestion on lagos roads. However our psychologists Sunny Joseph said in order for lagosians not to be mentally affected by the traffic stress they should engage in discussion with fellow travellers or commuters or better still travel with a person that you would communicate with according to him, when people engage in discussions their focus would be shifted from the traffic situation. Lagosians can also watch movies or listen to music on their phones so as to keep their minds off the traffic, Deep breathing is also another special way of stress relief, commuters should often take deep breaths. Above all, the best thing to do is to see a psychologist or go for therapy sessions this will help victims to further learn how to stay mentally sound in a mentally draining Lagos traffic.