Reducing stress for tourists dealing with traffic in Jakarta

Jakarta is the capital city of Indonesia, as well as the busiest city in Indonesia. With unpredicted traffic jam ‘schedule’, you barely can go out without seeing queueing cars, buses, and motorcycles. The incredible numbers of private vehicle cause traffic congestion every day in Jakarta, especially in the morning and in the afternoon. This circumstance is aggravated by the time rainy season comes, as some of the areas are flooding. Inhabitants in Jakarta and all the satellite cities can spend about 400 hours on the road for a year, that is equal to 2.5 months (Tempo, 2015).

Source: Indonesia Expat

Especially in Jakarta, Traffic congestion is one of the triggers of stress for inhabitants (Tempo, 2015). In my experience, for example, I have to spend roughly an hour to go to my working place, which is only 13 Km from home. I could suddenly get a headache and sweats while stuck in the traffic jam, and according to Taylor & Dorn (2006), those are some bodily responses to stress. Well, this is also the case for tourists, especially who are not experiencing traffic jam in their hometown. Tourists inevitably face the same condition when they travel to or in Jakarta. Traffic jam, for sure, affects their experiences. It diminishes a good quality of Jakarta tourism.

Instead of waiting for regulation and other possible solution, why do not we focus on reducing the stress of tourists or the commuters itself?

Supertall buildings and housings generally surround the main and toll road in Jakarta, barely find vegetation, which I argue thus makes Jakarta traffic is so arid and monotonous. Whereas, experiments have shown that natural environments tend to be more “stress-reliever” than urban or built environment (Joye & Berg, 2012). Since 1977, many scholars have concerned the research about nature and stress and named the theoretical formulation as ‘restorative’ or stress-relieving effects of nature. Research into restorative environments has been initially guided by two theoretical explanations. One of them is Stress Recovery Theory which was introduced by Ulrich in 1983 (Joye & Berg, 2012). The theory is concerned with restoration from the stress, which occurs when someone was facing a circumstance that is perceived as demanding or threatening to well-being (Joye & Berg, 2012). Quick positive affective responses (such as like, love) to some features (e.g. vegetation or more structural feature such as building) initiate the restorative process. The affective responses give a breather from stress, accompanied by liking and reduced levels of arousal and negative feeling such as fear and unhappy. If the scene draws enough interest, the more conscious and deliberative restorative experience will happen (Joye & Berg, 2012). Some results indicate that “stressed and/or fatigued individuals who are exposed to scenes dominated by natural content have more positive mood changes, and perform better on attention tasks, than stressed individuals who are to scenes dominated by built content” (Joye & Berg, 2012, p.59). In shorts, vegetation brings more happiness to people.

With all these facts, Jakarta traffic might need more vegetation to reduce the tension of commuters who are waiting for the chance to move in the traffic jam. How many exposures do we need from nature? It is also a question for many researchers (Joye & Berg, 2012). However, in my opinion, Jakarta traffic should start growing some more big trees, beautiful flowering plants, or maybe more vertical gardens. Not only to entertain the communities but also to add some value to tourists’ experiences.


Hennessy, D. A., & Wiesenthal, D. L. (1997). The relationship between traffic congestion, driver stress and direct versus indirect coping behaviours. Ergonomics40(3), 348-361.

Taylor, A. H., & Dorn, L. (2006). Stress, fatigue, health, and risk of road traffic accidents among professional drivers: the contribution of physical inactivity. Annu. Rev. Public Health27, 371-391.

Tempo. (2015). Orang Jakarta Kena Macet 400 Jam Pertahun. Retrieved from

van den Berg, A. E., & Joye, Y. (2012). Restorative environments. In Environmental Psychology: An Introduction (pp. 57-66). BPS Blackwell.

Hana Ulinnuha