British Columbia

Christmas driving can lead to not-so-festive anger

Christmas time is a time for joy, peace, togetherness, harmony, and peace. Unless, of course, you're in a parking lot or on a busy road populated by bonehead drivers!

A counsellor and mindfulness expert has some advice when you feel the rage about to boil over

#&*$#@! Driving at Christmas time can be pretty darn frustrating. What can you when you feel the Yuletide anger start to rise? (Getty Images)

Christmas time is a time for joy, peace, togetherness, harmony, and peace.

Unless, of course, you're in a parking lot or on a busy road populated by bonehead drivers you just want to strangle.

Okay, so Christmas driving can be pretty maddening.

Monica Kingsbury, a counsellor and member of the Mindfulness Community of Victoria says that Christmas driving can bring out the worst in people.

"Often times people are quite polite, they're letting you in. We're aware that there's a lot of us and we all have some place to go," she told All Points West host Robyn Burns. "I also see the stress come out. I hear the horn honking. There's agitation out there on the road."

Kingsbury thinks that in general, we live in something of a "rushed" society, and when people in that society feel a sense of urgency and entitlement, bad behaviour can manifest itself.

Serenity now!

Despite being a member of a mindfulness group, Kingsbury has felt extreme frustration on the road herself. She thinks "the seeds of anger and frustration" are in all drivers.

Kingsbury has a novel suggestion for practising patience: get into rush hour traffic at 5 p.m. on a weekday and try to just remain calm.

And if you're trying to find the rarest thing of all this Christmas — a parking spot at any mall in North America — she advises practising mindfulness. Take a few deep breaths, and try to relax.

"When I'm in that place, driving around and around looking for a spot, that driving is the manifestation of what's going on inside my mind: my thoughts are probably going around and around, and that's starting to water those seeds of feeling frustrated," she said.

She also recommends looking at what is contributing to your frustration: Are you hungry? Are you startled by loud honking? Did somebody cut you off?

And let's say someone wrongs you on the road. Let's say they do the ultimate Christmas no-no and they take your parking spot when you clearly have your turn signal on. How do you cope with those rage-inducing moments?

"We usually go into that story of, 'he took my spot! That was my spot!' And then we start to pay a lot more attention to that than to the fact that we're frustrated and disappointed or we're angry. And all of those things are manageable," she said.

"But it depends if we fuel that story. Because that story can move from a bit of surprise and frustration all the way to righteous indignation in a couple of minutes or seconds. The decision is: How do I want to feel?"


To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Peace on earth ... unless you're driving at Christmastime

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