We’ve all been there. Maybe it was a bad day at work; perhaps you’ve just broken up with your significant other, or had a fight with your best buddy. There are plenty of reasons to feel anger or frustration which you can easily take with you into the car, and out on the road. Here are a few guidelines that’ll help keep your anger reined in, and put the level-headed you back in the driver’s seat.
1. Don’t Fuel the Fire
Surprisingly, people will often set themselves up for a road rage blowout by making the wrong choices in their immediate environment – the interior of their car. Listening to angry music, or music that makes you emotionally heated while driving, is asking for trouble. Music tone, temperature control, and a clean car go a long way toward making your time on the road more enjoyable. You may not be able to control events or the people outside of your vehicle, but you can make the interior of your car as comfortable and relaxing as possible.
2. Change Your Mindset
Just as listening to aggressive music can make you angry behind the wheel, so too can peaceful soothing music set your agitated mind aright. Try not to ruminate on all the stresses you dealt with that day, or on any other topic that can shorten your temper while sharing the road. Focus instead on the things that make you smile – the positive feelings regarding some event, person or pet that brings joy into your life. Laughter is a great antidote as well. Having sufficient perspective to laugh at yourself or another rageful driver’s actions on the road will dilute much of the frustration immediately.
3. Put Yourself in Other’s Shoes
Focus on what you may have in common with other drivers on the road. Just because you are feeling frustrated doesn’t mean that everyone around you isn’t feeling the same. Are the weather conditions awful? Is the traffic so backed up that you’ve been sitting in traffic for hours? By staying connected to the drivers around you and realizing that you’re all in this mess together, you may find a sense of peace in the sense that you’re not alone in your discomfort.
If someone is showing signs of road rage, instead of allowing them to antagonize you, dragging you into their mind set and drama, recall a time when you have been irritated on the road or in a rush. Whatever behaviors they are exhibiting, there’s a good chance at some point you have done the same.
4. Stay Tuned In
Being aware of what’s going on in your mind and body is the first step towards anger management. What are you feeling – and conversely, what are you thinking about – that’s making you feel the way you do? Ask yourself: Are you cussing and snarling in that driver’s seat, repeating a mental mantra in your head that curses and insults everyone around you? Listen to your body’s response to your emotions. Is your pulse racing, hands shaking, your vision blurred? If you experience any of these symptoms, you need to check yourself immediately. Start working on resetting your body to normal levels by following the next few pointers.
5. Just Breathe
When you notice that your emotional upset is manifesting itself in physical ways, the first step is to just breathe. Deep, slow breaths will instantly lower your blood pressure. Imagine yourself releasing all of your tensions with every breath you exhale, repeating the process until you feel more level-headed. The fact is, when the body is in a relaxed state, and breathing regularly, more oxygen is flowing to the brain, allowing you to think more clearly, be more alert, and let you to make better decisions behind the wheel. All of these important factors are compromised when you are close to or already in a rage.
6. Isometric Exercises
A way to relax your body is to try some minor isometric exercises, which don’t require you to take your eyes off of the road. Squeezing the steering wheel, then releasing the tension can be a very effective form of exercise for stress release. Doing this on various parts of your body alternately, one muscle at a time – squeezing, then relaxing – will release much of that inner tension that has been building since that guy cut you off on the freeway five miles back.