We have all observed examples of road rage while on the highway. Road rage drivers use their cars to express their anger at real or imagined transgressions of other drivers. Obviously, road rage is dangerous to all drivers including the one expressing his anger with his car. In addition to possible bodily harm done on the highway, road rage also affects the physical and mental health of the one suffering from these inappropriate outbursts.

Before going to the office, I frequent a local bagel shop for my daily cinnamon-raisin bagel. As I entered the shop early one morning, several people greeted me-one was a good friend of mine who is a local funeral director. He offered to buy my breakfast. I was floored for he too is Scottish and appropriately frugal. While reflecting pleasantly upon his generosity, my attention was quickly redirected to a 35-year-old man waiting in line in front of us. This moderately trim man was upset about another person who had cut in front of him and had gotten served first.

I watched him carry on for awhile. He complained to the person who had gotten served before him, he complained to the woman taking the order, and he complained to my friend and me. He just wasn't going to let this incident die. After all, he had been wronged and was experiencing road rage in a bagel shop. I can only imagine how he reacts on the highway when wronged.

As the wronged rage warrior went on about the unfairness of life, my friend and I spoke in muffled tones as when you watch a child having a temper tantrum. This entire incident took but three intense minutes. He carried on so much that my friend suggested that I give him one of my business cards. I said that I thought that it might also be appropriate that my friend, the funeral director, give him his business card. If he didn't get help soon, this rage warrior would need a funeral home.

Later that day, I thought about the outburst in the bagel shop. I couldn't miss the irony of the road rage occurring in place specializing in healthy foods. He had chosen the bagel shop over other unhealthy fast food choices for breakfast. Instead of starting the day out with foods high in cholesterol, saturated fat, and calories, he came to a place specializing in nutritious choices for breakfast. In addition, he looked like he exercised several times a week and was taking care of himself. However, if this outburst of anger was any indication of his general modus operandi when it came to coping with stress, this person is in serious trouble.

All the medical evidence points to stress as a major factor in bringing on illnesses and exacerbating diseases already present. Whether we are talking about heart disease, strokes, or cancer, uncontrolled stress can be key ingredient in these major killers.

Here are four suggestions that you can use to handle anger and the resulting stress in a healthier manner:

  1. Understand that anger threatens your health in many ways. If some one cuts in front of you on a highway or in a bagel shop, your rage and anger does not change the situation. However, it does affect your health. Living in a constant state of internal turmoil surely doesn't add any time to your life, but it does a lot to shorten it.
  2. Don't get angry over little things-and most things are little. Suppose the road rage warrior had actually been slighted in the bagel shop, would that injustice have made any difference a year from now? In fact, it would not have made any difference an hour later. Therefore, the outburst wasn't worth it.
  3. Exercise daily. Another way to cope with the pent-up rage is with exercise. After getting approval from your physician, start a daily cardiovascular exercise program. It will reduce the ill effects of stress on your body.
  4. Meditate or relax daily. Find some form of exercise or relaxation that you can do each day. Yoga, Tai Chi, listening to music, or hobbies can help you reduce the anger and rage levels that each of us carry around with us.

Above all, remember that road rage whether on a highway or in a bagel shop is a killer and certainly not worth it. Drive defensively and cope wisely with life's little irritants.