4 Tips for Fixing Your Road Rage
According to a recent study, drivers who are angry or overwhelmed by emotions are nearly 10 times more likely to be involved in a crash than their peers who are calm. With this statistic in mind, it’s evident that drivers need tools to help them keep their cool, even when drivers around them are engaged in risky, irritating, and frustrating behaviors. To help you avoid road rage, here are four useful tips for maintaining your composure.
1. Take a Breath
It’s a good idea to take several deep breaths when you feel your anger rising. It’s well documented that breathing helps your body relax by bringing more oxygen into the blood, changing its pH. A slow, deep breathing pattern produces the opposite effect of the body’s “fight or flight” response, which is associated with quick, short breaths.
There are deep breathing exercises you can practice when you’re not behind the wheel. Getting in the habit of using breath control to calm your emotions is a good strategy because you can instantly put it to use when other drivers frustrate you.
2. Remind Yourself That Mistakes Happen
When another driver cuts you off, it may have been a thoughtless act, nothing more and nothing less. Even traveling for distances, drivers make hundreds of choices about when to turn, change lanes, speed up, and slow down. Inevitably, some of those decisions may offend other drivers. So, instead of getting angry, remind yourself that the other driver made a mistake, and congratulate yourself for being more conscientious behind the wheel.
3. Smile, Even If You Don’t Mean It
Just as deep breaths help you recover your sense of calm, smiling prompts a flood of neuropeptides in your body, which helps lower stress. The release of chemicals that promotes happiness, relaxation, and pain relief is powerful enough to bring down your blood pressure and slow your heart rate. As you’re taking those deep breaths, remind yourself to smile, even if you don’t feel like it at first.
4. Don’t Let Someone Else’s Anger Irritate You
If you see another car driving aggressively, the safest choice is to move, even if it means pulling over. Don’t get drawn into the heat of the moment. The worst thing you can do is try to engage with the person.
Remember that pure emotions, not reason, are motivating a person’s behavior when they’re in the throes of rage. As a result, you don’t know the depths to which this person may go to express his or her anger. Instead of giving in to an urge to respond with your own anger, you should remember that safety is your number one priority and get out of the way. In cases where you’re genuinely concerned about the safety of others on the road, have one of your passengers phone police and give them the license plate number for the dangerous driver.
In cases when your anger and stress are overwhelming, it’s best to pull over until you have a handle on your emotions. Get yourself your favorite nonalcoholic drink and snack. Giving yourself a chance to relax and regroup is sure to make the roadway much safer for you and other drivers.