3 Key Mental Health Benefits of Ridesharingby Carissa Andrews - January 7th, 2019
Are you still on the fence about ridesharing? Not sure if it’s for you? You might think twice when you learn about some of the key mental health benefits that befall those who opt to take a Lyft or Uber over driving themselves—or using another mode of transportation.
Ridesharing is basically a service that allows you to arrange a trip that requires a vehicle—and typically on short notice. Now, ridesharing has been around a long time—in the form of taxis or carpooling, but with the advent of handheld technology – aka our cellphones – applications have transformed how we handle getting to and from places. Most users rely on their smartphones to be matched with a driver based on their GPS coordinates and destination.
Were you unfamiliar with ridesharing in this manner? Don’t worry – you’re not alone. You might even live in a smaller town where their services haven’t made it to you yet. But don’t worry, this expanding platform is growing quickly.
Related: CAUTION Driving with Medications
If you live in one of the cities that have ridesharing options available, consider yourself lucky. Not only can you get to where you need to in a quick and efficient manner, your mental health can benefit in a number of ways, as well. In the United States, ridesharing users would likely agree. Just last year, 53% of Americans used a ridesharing service, such as Uber or Lyft. That number is up quite a lot from 38% in 2016.
Key Mental Health Benefits
Sure, being able to get a ride quickly and easily is great—but did you know there are some pretty awesome mental health perks, too? As it turns out, there are three key mental health benefits that come from ridesharing. Let’s take a look.
1. Alleviate Anxiety
We can all use a little less anxiety in our lives. However, for those who suffer with clinical anxiety in any of its various forms, finding ways to manage it is key. This can mean doing things a certain way or finding options that put our minds at ease. Here are some of the ways hopping in an Uber over driving yourself might keep your anxiety at bay:
a. Reliable transportation– Do you have an older vehicle? Are you afraid it might not make your next trip? Or does your anxiety keep you from driving yourself. With ridesharing, you can have reliable, safe transportation to (and from) your destination when and where you need it.
b. Safe and easy tourist travel– Another source of anxiety, even for those of us who don’t suffer from anxiety every day, is being a tourist. Not knowing the roads, traffic laws, or even routes can be an anxiety trap. By calling for an Uber, you can take the stress out of your next vacation, so you can focus more on the sights and less on how to get to and from your next stop.
c. Cost effective– Ridesharing using Uber or Lyft (or one of the other main services) can save you money on gas and wear and tear on your own vehicle. This in turn can lower your anxiety about your finances, all while allowing you to get out and about.
d. Environmentally friendly– There are a lot of people who have major anxiety when it comes to climate change. When you use a rideshare services, you might end up in the vehicle with other people who are heading the same direction you are. By limiting the number of vehicles on the road, you’re reducing the amount of CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere—thus helping to impact the environment—but in a good way.
2. Reduce Depression
We’re social creatures—and being isolated when we can’t drive can cause some serious mental health drawbacks. Other times, clinical depression itself might cause us to withdraw. When we have more options for getting out and about, it can be all the difference.
a. Social interaction– Hopping into a rideshare can help build a feeling of connectedness that wouldn’t be there. Both the driver and the riders gain a certain level of social interaction when they hop into the vehicle. Each party can share stories and converse. And let’s face it, sometimes just getting out of the house and going somewhere new can help us feel better.
b. Make friends- Commuters in some cities (such as New York) can be matched with other riders who are on the same daily routes. Spending time with others during a rideshare can help you make new friends that you would have otherwise never met.
c. See more, do more– Rideshare options obviously increase access to transportation. This can help people from all walks of life to get out and do more: whether disabled, dealing with mental health issues (such as anxiety, depression, etc.) or simply in need of a ride.
3. Less Stress
Closely related to anxiety – having less stress can make your life so much easier. Who doesn’t want to have a more relaxing time in life? Here are a few ways calling for a rideshare can lower your cortisol levels.
a. More time- Need a few more minutes of productivity? Why not keep working while your driver gets you to where you need to be? Whether literally a couple of minutes, or a good half-hour or more, more time can lower just about anyone’s stress level.
b. Convenient and easy– Calling up a ride via your smartphone is both super simple and totally convenient. In fact, way more convenient than hailing a taxi or having to traditionally dial up. You can rest easy knowing when you set your ride time, you’ll be ready to hit the road.
c. Safety from drunk driving– A big stress reliever can be taken off of your shoulders when going out for the night. Drinking and driving. With ridesharing, you can go out for a night on the town without having to have a sober cab friend, or the possibility of driving under the influence.
d. Safety– Not only is it safer for a night on the town, but studies have found prominent rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft are far safer than a traditional form of public transport. There are GPS devices in each rideshare car, and each company has very stringent policies for those who can ride and drive for a company.
TOP RIDESHARING COMPANIES
While ridesharing apps and services are somewhat sparse in Canada, a new bill in British Columbia could be opening the door for the companies to move in—as early as next fall. For those of you who are curious about the top ridesharing companies currently dominating the scene in 2018 (in order of market share), these are the ones to keep your eye on.
1. Uber (USA and 82 other countries)
2. Grab (South East Asian countries)
3. GO-JEK (South East Asian countries)
4. Easy Taxi (30 countries worldwide)
5. Lyft (USA – 45 states)
6. Careem (Middle East and Pakistan)
7. DiDi (China)
With the rise of ridesharing options, it’s nice to know the industry has not only created a safe environment, but there are added perks—such as reducing depression, anxiety, and stress. Not every city has a ridesharing option, so if yours does, it might be something worth looking into. You just might find yourself feeling a little better on your commutes. And if yours doesn’t, hang tight. It will likely be on the way soon. You could always consider reaching out to the service providers and request they have a look into your city.
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