Commuting in some of the most nightmarish conditions should be on my resume. In the past, I drove a three-mile commute in L.A. that took up to 45 minutes most days and a 13-mile commute in New Jersey that took up to TWO HOURS (thanks, bridge traffic!). I also drove in white-out snowstorms, and once, black ice caused a seven-car pile-up, which I was seconds away from becoming a part of. Then, there was the hour-long train commute from the 'burbs into Chicago and NYC. I still do that once a week. But my easiest commute by far? The one from my bed to my desk in my own apartment! Working from home has been nothing short of a miracle for my mental and physical health.
For so long, I've thought I was a weakling for not being able to handle the rat race. Everyone else (in NYC especially) makes it look effortless. But now researchers say that commuting to work IS more stressful for women. Whew -- so I'm NOT alone!
Although the study, out of the University of Sheffield, found that women have shorter trips to work than men on average, they're definitely hit harder psychologically by their commutes. I found that particularly interesting, because it's totally true for my boyfriend and me. He drives over bridges and through tunnels almost every day from north NJ to Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, sometimes even far out on Long Island. It can take him more than two hours, depending on traffic. What he does is something I just don't think I could bring myself to do. Sure, it takes a toll on him, but he seems to handle it MUCH better than I did my significantly shorter commutes.
Researchers attribute women's heightened "sensitivity to time spent commuting" to our "greater responsibility for day to day household tasks (including childcare and housework)." I could definitely see that being the case for some women, and yeah, I worry about cooking dinner (because I like to and am a bit more adept at cooking than my BF) or cleaning up around our place. But I also feel like I don't have the healthiest stress response to cope with the commute. Could have to do with some personal hormonal issues, but I wouldn't be surprised if other women are in the same boat. After all, chronically heightened cortisol (the fight-or-flight hormone that probably goes all sorts of wonky when dealing with jerk fellow drivers or masses of fellow commuters at your train station) can be a problem for anyone!
The upshot, though? The researchers say women might not have to worry so much about their commute stress as men start taking on more of an equal role with household tasks. A-ha! No matter the reason behind any woman's commute stress, that's certainly a fix I'm sure most of us wouldn't mind!
What do you think of this study? Are you stressed by your commute?
Image via Mo Riza/Flickr
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