We’ve compiled a list of 10 not-so-secret ways to avoid the rage and keep your cool:
Yeah, it seems obvious – but getting at least the bare minimum amount of sleep to qualify for a night-well-rested (8 hrs) is the first start to deciding whether or not you’re going to have a bad day. Set yourself up for success and happiness by getting the proper amount of sleep each day. Choose not to fall asleep to the TV, pick up a bedside book instead. Don’t load up on caffeine at night, or eat super stodgy or sugary foods likely to keep you up. That national sleep epidemic really puts people in a perpetual pissy mood; don’t let yourself be one of them!
Surely you can think back to a day when nothing seemed to be going your way and everyone was getting on your nerves just by glancing in your general direction. No, it wasn’t that time of month, it was because you poorly prepared for the day ahead! We like to wake up early so as to leave plenty of room for unexpected pop-ups or delays, and scheduling it out the night before – accounting for drive time, meetings, traffic, and errands. If you’re a spastic tornado in the morning thinking you can just cram it all in and not expect it to domino-effect the rest of your day, you are sorely mistaken, lady! Leaving just enough time to hopefully make it to that appointment is gonna create a whole lot more stress than you could easily avoid. Everyone has that one friend who is always arriving just on time, or several minutes late – to literally everything. She’s probably the most stressed out, worrisome person you know, with a super short fuse. Don’t be that person! Shoutout to Steve Jobs who designed the iPhone to make our lives easier!
Yes, we all can identify as “being one with our car”, but that doesn’t justify driving the way we feel. Have you ever had an argument in your car, with your boyfriend hopping out and slamming the door in your face? Or maybe you got off the phone with your boss who just pissed you right off. Driving to blow off steam, especially if you’re a competitive person, is a horrible idea. Trying to prove yourself by acting like Speedy Gonzalez will likely just result in you crashing into something and then having to deal with an Insurance Company for Two – which leads to, yeah, more stress! Slow it on down. Driving just below or right at the speed limit can do-away with lots of tension. Shift over to the right lane and let all the psychos fly past you. Your car is a way of transporting to places and people you love (yourself included) – not for mowing down thoughts and feelings. Take a boxing class if you need to release stress.
You know the guy with his arm up on the wheel, low-riding so he’s hardly able to see over the dash of his “souped up” 2003 Honda Civic, blaring the super aggressive tunes that you can hear three blocks away? Yeah. He’s also the guy with dents all down the side and super high insurance rates. Pump up the bass when you’re having a living room dance party or out at the club. Save your speakers, adrenaline, and sanity and turn on something relaxing. An audiobook perhaps, or a comedy channel, podcast, classical music, or our favorite – 1930’s Jazz. It’ll teleport your thoughts somewhere less chaotic, and your driving will thank you! Or better yet, switch the radio off and experience quietude. Sitting in silence and observing your surroundings will allow you to be more present and more aware, even just for five to ten minutes of your drive.
The silence in the several minutes you take without any music or noise allows you to focus on any tension or your clenched jaw while driving. Pay attention to your muscles. If you’re tense in your shoulders or clenching the wheel, you need to chill out. Do some light stretching at stop lights and release the stress building up. Tension breeds more tension, and you’ll drive the way you feel. If you can take four or five deep breaths in those moments you notice yourself starting to stress out, you can start to promote the habit of not getting so worked up behind the wheel. On longer trips, take some stretching time every couple hours, roll down the window for some refreshing air, and keep your windshield and mirrors clean.
All those jerkoffs who drive like they hate you and you’re in the way, it isn’t about you. Don’t let it get to you. Disengage. They’re projecting their own stress, poor time management, self-loathing, whatever they are going through – and trying to make it your problem. But before jumping into the assumption pool and thinking they’re intentionally trying to get a rise out of you, don’t give them the satisfaction, and understand that you, as your own entity, are not the target here. You aren’t susceptible to it if you refuse to give in to their BS. They could be oblivious, or accidentally missed their turn, or spilled their coffee, or have a backseat tantrum going on. Maybe they’re insanely afraid of spiders and just found one on the fold-down mirror. If they are testing your patience on purpose, whatever. Who cares. Don’t take it personally, it’s their problem, not yours! You do you, boo.
One of the most dangerous and toxic emotions is hostility. The people who are most likely to be angry are about 3x more likely for a heart attack than those who just let things roll off their back. Three times!!! There are so many other negative health effects to being hostile and angry, like obesity, stroke, and depression. Driving safely not only promotes less accidents, but a healthy mind AND a healthy body. By giving into the angry dragon, you don’t solve anything, for one – but the likelihood of you then retaliating goes up. Is it worth potentially crashing or risking your life just to prove a point to someone who is so far up their own they won’t even notice you’re doing it? Humor is the best medicine. If someone flips you off, just smile, laugh and wave at them. Let them pass. They’ll be more pissed off that you didn’t react negatively, and you can continue feeling happy because you’re not on their level. Mind your manners. Keeping behind the wheel of a car can make you feel like you’re in your own little world, but everyone else on the road is part of a collective environment. If you’re compassionate when responding to road rage, your life will be easier.
Be a decent human. Being courteous, apologetic, and treating others how you expect to be treated in following the Golden Rule go such a long way when you’re on the road. People are likely to let you in if you have to change lanes last minute or squeeze through a packed parking lot if you’re friendly and waving than if you’re flipping them off and telling them to go do something to their mother. What do you personally gain from being aggressive or mean to someone else? If you successfully cut someone off, do you carry that as a personal win through the rest of the day, or do you instead look for more ways to be irritated at the world? Acting kindly and gratefully even while driving will benefit you much more on a soulistic level. On top of this rule, be thankful! Have you noticed lately that you exist on this beautiful planet, sitting behind the wheel of this amazing vehicle, that is yours to go anywhere you could ever want? Appreciate your car, don’t take it for granted. Be grateful in this moment that you are alive and healthy enough to even be driving.
If you have the option, take a carpool to work! As a better option, if you live in a commuter city, take the public transportation – it’ll do all the work for you and all you have to focus on is getting on and off at the right stop. Take turns driving every other day with your carpool buddy so that you can relax. In the meantime, you can focus on the book you’ve been reading, catching up on work emails, or listening to music and observing the scenery. Plus, you can enjoy the company of someone else, save money, benefit the environment and use the carpool lane. We could list more reasons why this is awesome but we don’t have to.
Expedia released and conducted a survey that labeled the Top 12 Worst Types of Drivers by Behavior. As you scroll through them, try and reflect on a time when you’ve done any of them – accept it, because we’ve all done it! But that doesn’t mean they’re safe, smart, or efficient ways of driving, especially by following the Do-Unto-Others rule. Weaving in and out of traffic, speeding dangerously, multitasking, cutting others off, and tailgating aggressively are stupid and also pointless. They may only add seconds to your destination arrival time, and are much more likely to result in an accident than a gold medal. Road rage is at its ultimate worst in NYC, LA, and Chicago – a lesson to us Angelenos to TAKE A BREATHER! So before you throw up that ultra-hostile hand gesture, think twice – what’s your end-goal? And what’s the point?
The Worst 12 Types of Drivers in Behavior to avoid include:
The Last-Minute Line-Cutter
The Left-Lane Hog
The Red Light Racer