Road Rage and How to Stop Feeling Angry
Youngsun Kim

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Driving, Anger, and the Importance of Breathing

Angry Driver

Even though I only drive to work for 10 minutes a day I am still astounded by how many fellow drivers act as though they are Formula 1 racers! I used to believe that the drivers in Los Angeles were terrible, but San Diego makes them look tame. In LA, young male drivers tend to dominate the driving scene with their souped-up Honda’s, yet in San Diego it isn’t uncommon to see both male and female drivers racing their Porches down the highway to get their kids to school on time. It seems that in San Diego everyone is a Michael Schumacher! But then again, it comes as no surprise, really, because America’s Plymouth of the West is all about speed and maneuverability. That having been said, the incidences of violence directly involving road rage have escalated dramatically over the last few years, and San Diego is no exception. Whilst we may think we value communication more than in the City of Angels, we fall prey to the same irritation and anger that our neighbors feel on a daily basis.

I am not totally innocent in this, either. According to my wife, I too suffer from road rage at times. The truth is I do try to calm down and be mindful when I drive, but doing that became a lot harder when I opened my own business and started juggling so many different responsibilities. I had to start thinking of ways to manage my stress and reduce my irritation; if I didn’t, I could have ended up hurting myself, or worse still, hurting someone else out on the roads.

One of the best ways I managed to control my anger in the car was ‘breathing’. Yes, that’s right. I started experimenting with breathing techniques whilst I was a waiter in a very busy restaurant years ago. During that time the restaurant was extremely popular and the customers often ended up standing in a que while they were waiting to be seated. Ultimately, hunger set in and their agitation levels rose dramatically; I had to move fast, think fast, be patient, and most importantly, I had to smile. This was not easy, especially when my feet ached and my head was pounding. Of course, the faster I moved, the less agile and alert I became; I often ended up dropping bottles and plates at an alarming rate. Humiliated, embarrassed, and angry, I used to ask God to help me calm down. He did, of course, but I realized I need to make the effort to create a better frame of mind for myself. Hence, I started using useful breathing techniques.

Here’s how you can do it too:

  • Begin by closing your eyes; sit so that the back of the chair supports your body and your feet touch the ground.
  • Breathe in and out and consciously feel the air move around your body. Feel it entering through your nostrils and filling your belly and chest. Be aware of the air as it shifts within you, understand the rhythm of it, and be grateful for the life God has given you today.
  • Without altering your breathing, quietly observe the gap between your inhalation and exhalation.
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    Repeat the process until you feel relaxed and aware of your peace of mind returning.

Research has consistently proven the benefits of relaxation, meditation, and breathing. Not only does regulated breathing lower your blood pressure, combat stress, reduce the risk of heart attack and strokes, and even fight depression, it can also REDUCE PAIN and give you peace of mind. That’s right. Breathing techniques can decrease your pain.

So, take a few minutes out of your busy day to relax, breathe, and thank God for this moment. Creating a healthy habit focused on breathing exercises will give you a healthier, fuller life with reduced pain and increased fulfillment.

Dr. Youngsun Kim
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