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How to Harness your road rage

Back in the early days of vehicle travel, road rage was a difficult piece of mental anguish to contract. Typically there were only a few cars in a single town. Today with millions of drivers on the road, catching a hint of road rage is as common as catching a breath.

You don't have to be an irascible hooligan to find yourself falling into the toxic road rage pit. Even the most amiable, heart-warming individual can find themselves breathing fire, billowing smoke from their ears, and screaming obscenities at other drivers.

So what makes humans turn from friendly land-dwelling gentlemen into fuming, teeth-gnashing monsters when we get behind the wheel and start moving?

Wait, you didn't expect me to have an answer for you did you? 100 years of furiously-caged animals on wheels all figured out in one blog? Not quite, but what this blog will do is examine what some potential causes are as well as some tips on what you can do to harness that anger.

What I can say, is that there is an element of entitlement, vulnerability, pre-conceived hostility, and a world that stresses accomplishing things in as little time as possible that play a part in making road rage one of the most deadly distractions on the road.

All drivers are created equal. Each one, once they figure out how to pass their driver's test, familiarize themselves with road signs, and obtain valid insurance have the exact same right to the road as another. Unfortunately not all drivers feel this way.

There is also a sense of vulnerability when we get in our vehicles. While there have been many improvements over the years to increase safety, literally at any moment we could find ourselves on the losing end of a crash causing injury or even death. And there is something about impending death, which puts everyone on edge. Who would've thought it?

We can't possibly be perfect on the road every time. However, what you can do is adopt some of these tips which will help make the road a safer place.

1. Say goodbye to subconscious preconceptions about the road

We are groomed from an early age, that the road is a hostile place, and not a place of peace and mutual respect. Let a driver into your lane. Send a wave to another driver when they do something for you. Be nice to each other out there!

2. Acknowledge elevated anger is toxic to your health

People that get stressed or angry are more likely to suffer from fatal diseases such as heart attacks, strokes and others. It's hard to see how an innocuous road rage incident may be affecting your health, but now is a good time to wake up and smell life! (It's a lot better than death)

3. Don't make assumptions

You were cut off. So what? You don't know what the other driver is going through, or furthermore, if he or she did it intentionally. Don't take it personally. Maybe they're having a bad day. Maybe their child just threw up their Cheerios in the back seat. Cut them some slack.

4. You're not that big of a deal

The road was not built for you, and contrary to what you may think, other drivers aren't the least bit concerned with you. You're not any more entitled or special than any of the other drivers on the road. Sorry.

5. Chill Out

If you feel yourself starting to lose control, activate that voice in the back of your head that tells you to relax and to let things go. It's not worth it. Getting angry or acting on your rage could result in worse things like an accident, a fight, or serious injury. If you can't find a happy place, turn on a favorite song, or have some calming music ready. Perhaps listening to some comedy might help. Find something anything!

6. Leave plenty of time for trips

Whether they're short or long, leaving enough time for you to get to your destination will help alleviate road rage. That way if you hit traffic, or a driver gets on your nerves, the extra stress of making it on time will not exacerbate the situation.

7. Other drivers are not your punching bag

Perhaps you've had a rough day at work, your child is screaming in the back seat, or you missed the final episode of Housewives of New Jersey. Don't take out your troubles on other drivers. And buy a DVR while you're at it.

8. Take care of yourself

Just like anything else, that mom of yours is always right. Eating right and getting plenty of sleep helps a lot of things. Taking care of yourself helps with brain health as well, and you are far less likely to get irritated at other drivers if you've gotten a good night's sleep and filled yourself with nutrients before taking to the road.

Unfortunately, road rage lives within all of us. For some it lives right near the surface, ready for summoning at the slightest slip of focus. It is important for you to take these tips with them the next time you get behind the wheel. You're not just making things easier for yourself-you might help make someone else's day better too. That's what it's all about.

Be safe out there.