PHOTO BY EDWARD SOPER / THE PIONEER
Having a daily commute is stressful enough as it is, but having a daily commute paired with anxiety can be debilitating.
California State University, East Bay is commonly called a “commuter school.” While there is nothing wrong with that, it can impose some unique problems for students, especially those with anxiety.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) reports that, “85 percent of college students reported that they had felt overwhelmed by everything they had to do,” at some point in the last year. Furthermore, 41.6 percent stated anxiety was their top concern.
In fact, Time Magazine published an article highlighting ten negative effects that commuting has on the human body. Many of the listed effects, such as spikes in blood pressure, lack of sleep, declination of happiness and satisfaction of life, increased risk of depression and a rise in blood sugar are directly related to higher levels of anxiety.
To further this point, the article even mentions higher levels of anxiety as a separate point, mentioning that having a commute at all can induce episodes of anxiety.
The good news here is that there are a lot of websites that offer advice on reducing stress and anxiety while commuting. Brandi Neal, Bustle.com’s resident mental health expert, who has been published in more than a dozen health and lifestyle magazines, suggests that in the event of an attack during your commute, you should pull over, drink some water, and repeat a mantra of your choosing.
“Your mantra doesn’t have to be anything special or fancy. It can be anything that helps you feel grounded, ” Neal writes.
Alternatively, the popular consumer health website healthline.com reports that the most important thing you can do is “avoid being in a stage of H.A.L.T. (Hunger, Anger, Lonely, Tired). Doing so will allow you to focus your mind on simply driving, free of these distractions.
For help on campus, students at CSUEB have a couple of options. First, they can visit the Recreation and Wellness Center, or RAW Center, and check out their Anxiety Toolbox program for ideas on how to better manage their stress and anxiety.
Another option is the Student Health and Counseling Services. Here, students can speak to professionals about things they are struggling with and receive judgement free help.
When presented with these ideas, students had mostly positive reviews. “I can’t wait to try out the anxiety kit idea,” said Amy Joseph, a CSUEB freshman. Of the 36 students presented with the articles’ suggestions, 28 said that they planned to create an anxiety kit for their daily commute.
“The H.A.L.T. idea is really interesting and explains a lot of my anxiousness while commuting,” said Jacob Ngope, a CSUEB senior.
Perhaps the most enthusiastic of the students interviewed was CSUEB alumni Lina Ng, who said the anxiety toolbox at the RAW “is probably the only reason I felt like I could commute every day instead of staying in my apartment. It’s definitely worth checking out.”
One of the most commonly suggested ideas out there is the anti-anxiety kit. Essentially, you fill a bag or box with things that will help to calm you down in the event of an attack. Common items include snacks, water, smelling salts/essential oils, and medication for extreme cases.