You probably know the feeling: you’re driving in your car after a long day at the office when the car next to you suddenly merges into your lane. You slam on your breaks, your heart rate skyrockets, your palm instantly sweat. You unleash the cussing at the other driver, even though you know they cannot hear you. Hello, road rage.
According to SafeMotorist.com, road rage is a serious problem. Over a seven-year period, 12, 610 injuries and 218 murders were associated with road rage in the United States. Of those incidents, 37% involve firearms, inducing a recent story making headlines from Las Vegas.
Rather than expect the worst of ourselves and other drivers, here’s our guide to being calm and driving on. If you find yourself getting angry at other drivers while on the road, these five tricks you can help soothe road rage before it becomes a safety concern.
1. Listen to music. Some songs are better than others at reducing our blood pressure and heart rate, but everyone has that one jam that just does it. If you find yourself reacting to the other driver, instead of flipping the bird, press play on your song and zone into the lyrics.
2. Focus on your breathing. Mediation can do so much when you’re feeling stressed out from reducing your blood pressure, lowering your heart rate, and giving you something else to focus on when you’re feeling angry. Instead of paying attention to the other driver’s actions, keep your eyes on the road and focus on taking in deep breaths and letting go. You can also speak mantras outloud such as “I feel at peace” or “this too shall pass” and feel the anger wash away.
3. Find a safe place to pull over and stop. If you find yourself getting so frustrated and angry that you can’t see straight or you’re worried about the other driver, find a coffee shop or parking lot where you can sit for a moment. Make sure where you stop is safe (not on the shoulder of the busy highway) and use one of the other methods for calming yourself before you start driving again.
4. Remind yourself that person is human. The truth is, everyone makes mistakes and everyone will have an off day here or there. Remind yourself of that when you feel the rage bubbling. Some people advocate that instead of getting angry, make an excuse or back story to why the other person acted the way they did. Maybe the driver’s wife was in labor and they were in a hurry, perhaps there is a sick kid in the car — whatever reason you choose, make it one that you can relate to and quickly forgive.
5. Don’t personalize their behavior and choose to smile. You can’t help how others react, but you can choose not to feed into it. If you’re on the receiving end of road rage, instead of feeding into the tension, prefer to smile and not take the other driver’s actions personally. You probably won’t seem them again so there’s no need to escalate the situation.
DMV.org suggests that if you find yourself feeling rage on the road during your daily commutes, you should check in with your doctor to discuss how you can reduce your overall stress.
TapGenes Takeaway: Road rage can happen to the best of us at some point, but calming yourself before it becomes an issue is important for everyone’s safety.
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