5 Stories for Commuters, And Others With Time On Their Hands.

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Free short story vending machines delight commuters

The premise was simple: Pick out one thing I liked about each person in my subway car. At first, it was kind of hard. It was rush hour, and some people were only visible to me as a hand. I quickly hit a rhythm, though. If I saw a disembodied hand, I imagined it doing happy things, like petting a dog. Continuing the momentum, I let my eye travel to the next car and kept going.

Because your commute is a set start and end to your day, you can use it as a marker of when to start and stop doing schoolwork. For example, you can decide to only do schoolwork between your AM commute until PM in the afternoon, or between your AM train and your PM ride back. You can even take these set times to the next level by deciding not to do any schoolwork in the evenings and weekends. Like I mentioned in reason 3, having a commute to bookend your days means that you have a way to help you separate your schoolwork and the rest of your life.

Giving yourself the incentive of watching Season 7 of Suits if you finish your Stats assignment before your PM train helps, too. You get your work done and get a 4. But because commuting gave me constraints to work around, being a commuter student helped me get a 4. Like I mentioned in the first part of this post, make your commute to campus a productive time.

Bring coffee on the train in the morning if you have to.

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And on the way home, use it as a way to ease out of your day — meditate, take a nap, or read a book. This tactic is something author and professor Cal Newport uses.

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He has a shutdown process that ends off his day and a fixed schedule that has a set start and end time. I use Google Docs offline for this. You can also use apps like Instapaper and Pocket to save blog posts offline to read. I like using Headspace to meditate on my commute, because if I can find my quiet space on a bustling train, then I can find it anywhere.

The Simple Way I Made My Daily Commute Less Stressful

I do this by downloading all my emails to Apple Mail or Gmail on my phone before I leave school, then clearing them all on the way home. This is one of my favorite parts of being a commuter student: I have a designated nap time every day before dinner. Depending on how tired I am, I may or may not need my cheapo Sony noise canceling headphones to sleep. Another study, this one partially funded by Hewlett Packard, compared the heart rate and blood pressure of commuters to those of fighter pilots and policemen in training exercises.

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  • Commuters topped them in the not-so-good way. The researcher conducting the study was quoted by the BBC as saying that commuters' stress comes from their inability to control their situation.

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    • David Lewis said, "A riot policeman or a combat pilot have things they can do to combat the stress that is being triggered by the event. But the commuter, particularly on a train, cannot do anything about it at all. Stress causes deterioration in everything from your gums to your heart, reports Live Science. It can make you more susceptible to illness and interferes with your ability to fall and stay asleep. Plus it makes you grumpier and can strain your relationships.

      Stories - The Commuting Book

      Even beyond your neighbor on the bus who repeatedly turns her head in your direction when she sneezes, public transportation is a Petri dish of contagions waiting to fell you. Somebody coughs into their hand, then uses that hand to grab the escalator railing, then you come along and unwittingly use that same railing and grab an apple to eat.

      Might as well call the boss now and tell them you'll be sick by Monday. Of course we all have different immune systems and resistance levels to catching things -- but commuters, in general, are exposed to a lot.

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      Just this winter, scientists discovered a shocking number of bacteria in the New York subway system. Will "stay clean" replace "have a nice day" in our greeting vernacular?

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      Sitting hunched over in a car for hours each week wrecks your posture and hurts your back. Constant road vibrations and sitting in the same position for a long time puts pressure on the bottom disc in the lower back, the one most likely to deteriorate over the years. When you exit the car, you feel stiff, right? Back pain is more common the older you get, notes the NIH. So who needs to help that along? Raymond W.

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      Novaco, a professor at the University of California at Irvine's Institute of Transportation Studies who has researched commuting for three decades, found a correlation between contending with traffic congestion and negative health effects, ranging from higher blood pressure to poor life satisfaction. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine reported on an association between those who commute more than 15 miles to work and obesity.

      Commuters were less likely to meet recommendations for moderate to vigorous physical activity, said the report. Longer commutes were also associated with higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels -- again because of the lack of exercise when so much time is spent commuting. And researchers at the University School of Medicine in Saint Louis and the Cooper Institute in Dallas found that those who commute 10 miles or more each way to work have a higher tendency toward depression, anxiety and social isolation.