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The Hurdles Of Commuting

By Dr. M. Mastria

Commuters have unique hurdles to overcome. How to stay connected to family and community, how to meet personal needs when large chunks of time are taken from the day, how to limit wear and tear and stress from body and mind that commuting over the years evokes are just a few.

The typical worker commutes 35 minutes one way and uses a car to get to work. Whether your commute is 20 minutes long or over an hour and a half, done via public transportation or your own car, the stress of the commute can be exhausting and have short and long term effects.

Studies done by universities, hospitals and government agencies show that workers who commute function under emotional stress that impacts on their work and their families and social lives. One study showed that the longer the commute, the higher the blood pressure of the commuter-driver. Commuters also report more illnesses and are out of work more often. The frustration and anger that build up on the road is seen at the workplace. CNN reported a study showing that workers bring their commute-related anger to their jobs. The NYU Sleep Disorder Center showed that workers who travel more than 75 minutes were more obese and more hypertensive.

Commuting is a fact of life in this Twenty-first Century, but life doesn't have to be so bad. There are dozens of websites and organizations that are dedicated to making the commute a little better. They give good advise - take public transportation when you are able, use carpools, get a good night sleep before going to work, use the commute time to listen to relaxing music or a book on tape, give other drivers the benefit of the doubt - and a break.

There are many benefits to commuting to work. We choose where we want to live, there is a true distinction between work and home, there may be better schools and leisure activities available. Of course, the distance may make some of the benefits just possibilities.

Once you are able to get your commute under your control in terms of the stress and strain and you are ready, your miles clocked will show achievements rather than strain. You will have an opportunity to use this traveling time to look at your life and, step by step, mile by mile, map out where you are and where you want to go. You will learn how to refuel after becoming drained of your energy. You will begin to set goals and use mileage markers to measure your success. And you will create a vision of your life down the road that brings out the best in you as a person and in your many roles as spouse, parent, neighbor, friend, church member and, yes, worker, too.

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