Tips to Curb Road Rage When Stuck in Summer Traffic

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First Posted: 7/16/2014

It seems that we try to cram as much fun into our summers as we can. There are those of you who like winter too, you skiers and snowboarders. I envy you because as much as I love the outdoors, I just don’t embrace winter sports; I guess I have a fear of flying down a ski slope and hugging a tree…and not in the good, environmentally friendly way. Bottom line, I prefer summer and most of us try to squeeze every ounce of fun from this season that we can. That often means traveling congested roads, like I-80 and I-81, to get to parties, lakes, vacation and staycation spots.

For 11 years I drove on I-81 from Scranton to work in Wilkes-Barre. I liked the extra time the drive allowed for my mind to wander before starting my day at Blue Cross of NEPA. After work it also felt good to decompress with music blaring on the ride home. What I don’t miss about my 30-minute commute is the heavy traffic that included many trucks, often going too fast. I don’t miss traffic jams caused by snowstorms, accidents and construction that turned my 30-minute ride into an hour or longer. And I don’t miss angry drivers who needed to chill out and maybe cut back on the Monster Energy drinks or Doubleshot Espressos.

While I no longer travel I-81 every day, I do still hit the road for business gigs. Considering that the mission of my business, Laugh to Live, is to promote laughter, I try my best to keep a sense of humor while parked in a traffic jam. But I often need to remind myself to breathe deeply and laugh as much as possible. Rather than get my road rage on when I’ve grown an attachment to my bumper, I pull over to the slower lane, let the speed demon pass and then enjoy a laugh as the driver gets stuck behind someone going even slower than me.

One day while sitting in a construction zone, I came up with some ideas of fun ways to pass the time after I had said every curse word I know. Try these 12 activities to beat road rage this summer when you’re stalled or inching along the highway.

1. Do your happy dance. (Fight it if you must, but that Pharrell Williams’ song is still infectious, and much healthier than many other things you could catch.)

2. Check out the guy in the car next to you, or the girl, whatever your preference. If you’re lucky, it could end up being the freeway of love.

3. Sing…at the top of your lungs.

4. Try on your son’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles inflatable arm floaties while singing “Fat guy in little floaties.” (With apologies to Chris Farley, may the original and hilarious “fat guy in a little coat” rest in peace.)

5. Laugh… because you can. It might feel weird to laugh without hearing a joke first, but trust me, laughing as a practice – which is the premise of laughter yoga – is a great way to release stress, like the kind you’re probably feeling while sitting behind your steering wheel and not moving.

6. Practice the sales pitch you have to give for work, your excuse to the boss for why you’re late… again, your marriage proposal, your resignation, the toast for your brother’s wedding, whatever you have to say that’s important. Say it out loud to hear how it sounds.

7. Breathe. Like number 5, this is a great way to let the toxins of stress and negativity out in exchange for positive vibes and fresh air.

8. Let your mind take a trip back in time to the first family vacation you can remember. Think about what made it fun. (For me, fond memories from Wild Wood Crest, NJ wash ashore. Two words: sunburn blisters and the SeaShell Ice Cream Parlor.)

9. Smile. Think of all the reasons for your smile. (Need help? How about your unique talents, family, friends, job, girlfriend, boyfriend, beer, pizza, wine, sunsets, art, poetry and so on.)

10. They say that all we really need to know we learned in Kindergarten. Picture your cute 5-year-old self and then sing your ABCs as loud as you can.

11. Try twerking in your seat. I’m not saying it can be done, but then again, I’m not saying it can’t.

12. Picture what your superhero costume will look like once the Justice League recognizes your power. What color is your cape? Do you have a special gadget? What is your mode of transportation? However you travel, you know that you’ll never get stuck in traffic again. You’re a superhero with villains to fight and lives to save!