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By Chris Egan
For those of us with a daily commute, it can easily be the most stressful part of the day and if you’re anything like me, it’s not uncommon to find yourself honking, hollering, and gesturing your way down the road in a stressful episode of what most people commonly refer to as road rage.
Fighting traffic is already awful. Throwing a temper-tantrum and cursing at fellow commuters, who are all fighting their own rush-hour battles, does nothing to help the situation. Nothing. In fact, it escalates the situation. Getting angry and screaming at people hurts you more than it does other people. It’s self-induced stress.
Here’s the secret: It doesn’t have to be this way.
Time to find your highway Zen.
“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”quote attributed to Buddha, Nelson Mandela, and others so who really knows?
In other words, You can throw all the hand gestures you want at the other guy, or gal but you’re the one who ends up getting stressed, your heart rate increases, your blood pressure goes through the roof, and you are the one that turns red with anger.
So what can we do to avoid these unpleasant encounters? Here are a few tips:
Leave on time.
If you’re not in a hurry, you’re less likely to be driving like a maniac yourself, you’re not already in a stressed state, and something that may anger you when you’re in a hurry, may not anger you when you’ve got time to spare.
Drive the speed limit.
I tried this one for a week, which was harder than I expected it to be (I drive a lot), but if you leave on time and take your time getting where you’re going, you’ll find your drive isn’t nearly as stressful—even if the road is full of idiots and maniacs.
We all make mistakes and we have all certainly made a mistake while driving. Maybe we didn’t see that the other person arrived at the four-way stop before us, or we accidentally turn in front of someone in a parking lot or cut someone off on the highway. We all do it from time to time. Forgive the person that made the mistake instead of flipping the bird, or hollering out your window. It was probably completely by mistake. No harm done? Move on.
Follow all the rules of the road.
Driving the speed limit falls under this one too but you can take that even further: use your turn signals and obey traffic signs and lights. The more that your moves can be anticipated by other drivers, the less you will find yourself in situations that cause stress, not to mention you won’t be the cause of stress for others!
Listen to relaxing music while you drive.
Use whatever works for you. It could be music or some other brain-stimulating audio like a podcast. Engage your brain in something that interests you or music that relaxes you to set yourself in a good mood and minimize the possibility of losing your temper.
Consider Public Transportation
Have you ever looked into it? Maybe it’s easier and cheaper than you think to take the bus or the subway. You could even consider rideshare services. Imagine not having to drive at all in the morning. You could read a book on the way to work and completely transform your mornings.
Do you have other ideas that have worked for you? Let me know in the comments below.
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