Commuters struggle with anxiety from heavy traffic, time balance

Commuter traffic causes delays on the 91 freeway.

College is a stressful time for all students, but sometimes even more so for the commuters among us. Between juggling early morning classes and battling traffic, commuters often do not have much, or any, time to themselves to relax or even take a breath before they are forced back into the vigorous routine of college life. This constant pressure and rushing can place stress on California Baptist University’s commuter students and make their daily lives very stressful.

Natalie Robledo, freshman forensic chemistry major, describes her mental health as a six out of 10 due in part to the time required for commuting.

“(I am) failing two of my classes because I work and sometimes I’m too tired to do any homework, and I get home late because of how far I live,” Robledo said. “Since I am a commuter, gas is too much money, but my paycheck goes to my tuition, so I’m always worrying about how I’m going to help pay for gas or help my mom out with the bills.”

Jonathan Palacios, senior communication sciences and disorders major, commutes from Covina and explained that while he lives 30 minutes away, bad traffic can make the commute time an hour and a half.

“In regards to how traffic affects my mental health, it really depends,” Palacios said. “For example, after a long day, if I’ve had a big exam, I’m sitting in it longer, I’m overthinking things and then it’s definitely not the best for those cases. But if it’s just a regular day, it’s fine. I get time to decompress about the day; I could just relax, listen to music, whatever. It honestly just varies by the day.”

Therelin Segura, sophomore criminal justice major, commutes from Rialto. While Palacios sometimes finds his drive relaxing, Segura feels that his drive often makes him more anxious.

“I hit that specific part of town where it’s packed, it’s three o’clock, and you know that everyone is just trying to get home,” Segura said. “I guess it makes me grumpy due to the way that some people drive. I get stressed out. I get anxious. Sometimes the traffic stops during a red light or something, and then there are people blocking the intersection and you can’t get through and it scares me sometimes.”

Segura also said that while he appreciates that he has access to the Commuter Lounge, it can be difficult to study there.

“I use the Commuter Lounge, to leave my lunch there, and it’s a great place,” Segura said. “However, it does have its downsides. For example, in the morning, if I’m trying to do homework I couldn’t finish the day before, there are some people in there that are so loud, and I’m just like: ‘Come on, it’s seven in the morning.’”

However, there is a positive amid all the worry for the commuters reading this. Dr. Kendra Floris-Carter, assistant professor of social work, explains that when she gets nervous or overwhelmed by the storm of traffic, she often tunes to religious music or medication.

“It depends on how I’m feeling for that day,” Floris-Carter said. “Sometimes I’ll put on my gospel music. Some days, I’ll listen to my grounding and centering techniques. And it’s all Christ-centered. I think for students, it’s a coping mechanism that you can use to reduce stress while on the roadways.”

So, the next time you’re on the road, stuck in traffic, try some mindfulness techniques, a podcast or even a happy playlist, anything to pass the time and make it as enjoyable as a traffic jam can possibly be. Before you know it, the traffic, while still obtrusive, might become the most enjoyable part of your day.

Leave a Reply