Got road rage? I know I do. My inner road demon usually flares up when it’s time to leave for work, and when it is time to go home. Unless traffic is perfect (i.e. non-existent), I know that at some point along the way I’m going to want to yell at someone or flip them off. I don’t like this quality about myself, because I know that I’m only stressing myself out. It’s also incredibly risky behavior to engage in; just last week I read a story about a Florida man who was killed during a road rage incident gone very wrong. If you’ve got the same thing going on and you’d like to exorcise your inner road demon, here are a few things you can do:
1. Put on some classical music. It doesn’t have to be classical, but any music that will calm your nerves will help keep your temper in check while on the road. Sometimes I listen to classical, other times I’m more in the mood for some Native American flute music or jazz. Over the years I’ve learned that I can’t listen to anything with a strong back beat on the road. It makes me get lost more in the music than one should while driving, and that’s how you end up going well over the speed limit. So pick something nice and soothing to groove to on your travels, and hopefully it will help set the right tone for the ride until you reach your destination.
2. Ignore the clock. Try your best to not look at the time. It will only remind you of how long things are taking or just how late you’re going to be. Not only that, it can be incredibly distracting depending on the circumstances. So divert your attention from away from the tick, tick, tick of the clock and focus on the road. Who knows, it might even help you get to your destination faster.
3. Take deep breaths. If you’re a yoga aficionado like myself, you’ll know just how important our breath is when it comes to facing difficult or uncomfortable situations. I use my deep breathing each time I feel myself getting irritated, and in a matter of minutes, the feeling has all but disappeared. If you don’t believe me, pay attention the next time you feel yourself getting pissed. You’ll notice that you’re either not breathing at all, or taking very shallow breaths. The same thing happens when you’re on the road.
4. Leave early! This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s the easiest way to cut out a lot of road rage potential by making sure you have plenty of time to arrive at your destination.
5. Don’t take it personally. I find myself thinking that, more often than not, when someone cuts me off or steps on their brakes suddenly, that they are purposely trying to irritate me. This sounds ridiculous when you think about it; I know for sure that is generally not my intention while I am driving. But for some reason, it’s so easy to think that everyone else on the road is out to get you. Most of the time, they aren’t. So instead of thinking that this person meant to cut you off and meant to ruin your day, try instead to think of it as they are simply not paying attention, and you won’t let their bad behavior
6. Be courteous. If you find yourself stuck on the freeway, keep in mind that everyone on that freeway is stuck in this mess together. Everyone wants to get home, and everyone hates how slow each lane is moving. But unless people are kind enough to accommodate one and other, changing lanes and merging onto freeway ramps, no one will ever go anywhere. So knowing that, the next time you see someone trying to get into your lane, let them in. It doesn’t cost a thing other than a few extra seconds of being stuck behind another person, and may help move things along.
7. Put your finger away. Flipping the bird is incredibly aggressive, and can escalate your run of the mill douchebag into a volatile one in a matter of seconds. It’s a hard habit to break; I find myself doing it way more often than I should. But it doesn’t accomplish anything. It won’t make the other person apologize, and you won’t feel any better afterwards.
8. Repeat the following: “Focus on the things you can change and let go of the things you can’t.” Unless you’ve got the power of Moses (or Storm from the X-Men), you will not be able to make other cars move out of your way, and you can’t make them drive better. So just sit back, turn up the radio and remind yourself that you will get to your destination, eventually.