THE STRESS OF COMMUTING
by Chelci Bidos
Some people are stressed because of their parents, some from their significant others, and some from their jobs. But did you ever stop to think that your commute to school or work could be the root of all your problems? That the same bus, train, walk and repeat cycle could be the root of all of this stress?
“When we think about occupational health and stress, we focus understandably on the work environment, but that ignores the fact that for a lot of people, one of the most stressful parts of work is commuting,” said Gary W. Evans, professor of human ecology at Cornell University.
Tara Bidos a college senior at NYU says that even though she has had three years of practicing ways to improve her commute, she still hasn’t perfected it. “ I lived on campus my first year and I definitely think that commuters have it harder than resident students. They do not have to plan their time out as much as we do. I always have to take into account that two-hour gap in which I can’t get anything done because the trains are too crowded, or there is too much noise. It’s hard; but all you have to keep saying to yourself is that it is worth it.”
Bidos also said that living so far away means that she has to get up earlier and loses out on sleep at night in order to make sure that she has enough time to get ready and make it to class on time.
“Longer commutes were significantly associated with elevated cortisol, poorer proofreading performance and higher levels of perceived commuting stress” according to a study done in 2006 in a Health Psychology article.
Karla Mendez a senior at Saint Peter’s also agrees that her commute to school is the most stressful part of the day. “My commute is about 15-20 minutes when there is a lot of traffic and 10 minutes when there is not. What aggravates me most about my commute is the fact that I have to rely on someone else to take me.”
“I don’t have my driver’s license so when I am ready in the morning, I have to wait for my boyfriend to get ready and then only after he is ready can we go. I get picked up from school according to his schedule so sometimes I have to wait in the library for him to get out of work.”
While Bidos has to come out of pocket and pay for public transportation which has become more of a burden now that the fare has gone up, for Mendez it doesn’t cost her anything, but she said that’s the only reason why she goes through the hassle of having to rely on someone else.
According to Suite101.com in an article titled College Commuter Students: Advantages and Disadvantages “Driving to school daily, parking, and maintaining a car can potentially be very expensive, especially if the student lives a significantly distance from school.”
The article further goes on by saying that transportation issues are a large part of commuter concerns. Commuters have difficulty finding parking on campuses because of limited parking. They also have to attend classes in large blocks of time, which reduces hours spent on campus outside of the classroom and they miss out on opportunities to become socially and academically integrated into the college community. Because of longer commutes to school, students may have trouble attending classes, which are more easily accessible for resident students.
Here are some tips for commuters from Meghan Rabbitt author of “Create a Calmer Commute: Simple ways to sit back, relax and enjoy your ride.
- Rethink the time: Rather than harping on all the time you’re losing think about the precious “me time” you’re gaining.
- Put together a playlist: Pick a batch of new songs to play during the next day’s commute, that way when faced with a wait, plug in the iPod and let the music help keep your spirits high.
- Change your clothes: Get as comfy as possible. Who cares if you’re wearing sweats on the subway or driving in your jammies?
- Give yourself extra time: The worry of walking into work or school late will add to your stress. A little time cushion can ease the pressure.
For more on commuter and stress check out this story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/4052861.stm