Thousands of Americans who work or study in San Diego choose to live across the border in the less expensive city of Tijuana. But as these daily commuters spend hours at border crossings, it takes a toll on their physical and mental health.

Tijuana psychologist Lourdes Mariscal, with many patients who are border commuters, says that waiting in line at the border also creates a lot of frustration. “That frustration, in turn, creates impotence,” Mariscal says, “a feeling of not being in control of your time, a feeling that makes you feel like you’re not in charge of your life anymore.” Commuter Luisa Perez is familiar with this feeling of helplessness. “Sometimes, I can’t take it anymore,” she says. “I feel like screaming in my car.”*

Feeling frustration? Look for the perfection in the moment

One path to sanity is to search for acceptance and not resignation, which can lead to depression, high blood pressure, or worse. Yoga teacher, Toltec Elder, Victoria Allen, suggests that we look for the perfection in the moment – that it’s there, no matter what. Just that change of perspective can lead to opening instead of contraction, to being more fully present…and possibly to new discoveries.

A simple way out

I’m not always good at finding it, but when I do, suddenly even a noisy traffic jam can hold the promise of adventure. That scream of frustration can transform into a sigh of acceptance. Also, I remind myself to start the little yogic breathing exercise that calms my heart rate and switches my focus automatically. The simplest form of the technique is to:

  • Breathe in on a count of seven
  • Hold for a count of five to seven
  • Exhale on a count of seven
  • Repeat for several minutes

This simply triggers your body’s natural relaxation response with the added benefit of getting your mind off the traffic woes.

*Adapted from an original story written by Pablo Jaime Sainz with a New America Media environmental health fellowship from the bilingual newspaper, La Prensa San Diego.