x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Coping with stress

A health psychologist advises scores of stressed commuters each week on how to stay calm.

DUBAI // Melanie Schlatter, a health psychologist and doctor at Well Woman Clinic, Dubai, advises scores of stressed commuters each week on how to stay calm. Dr Schlatter said the main problem is that people became stressed before they even leave home, anticipating the queues awaiting them. She said this sets a precedent for stress to rise as the day progresses. "I have seen people who spend four hours a day in traffic and it's affecting their work," she said. "Their production and motivation decreases. There is a lack of concentration.

"It can even affect sleep patterns because at the end of the day, when they should be going home and having time out to relax and have something to eat. They are getting in at 10pm, having a quick bite to eat and heading to bed. "There's no time for communication with their partner or family." Dr Schlatter's advice for stressed commuters is simple: preparation. "People need to be mentally prepared before they leave," she said. "They have to simply accept this is the way it is going to be and prepare themselves for the longest possible time it could take.

"Then there are simple things like not leaving on a full bladder, being hydrated and eating something, because that affects the blood sugar and that affects concentration." Listening to traffic reports and knowing the route you are taking before setting off are other effective remedies, Dr Schlatter said, along with listening to audiobooks or calming music. "If you are listening to heavy rock music you are more likely to make silly decisions than if you are listening to calming music," she said.