Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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Road Rage: Going on the road got rid of my anger

AngryA few years ago, I was consumed by anger. All the time, I felt a low-level current of anger and rage, directed at no one. I drove 40 minutes in heavy, stop-and-go traffic to get to a job where I sat inside a plastic-walled cubicle every day from 9 in the morning until 5 or 6 at night, before I clocked out and drove home in the same snarling traffic. I took extra long lunches and ducked out a few minutes early to save myself from the drudgery of my office job. And the thing is, I liked my job, my boss, even my co-workers. But after being in that horrible, endless traffic, and knowing I had to face it again on the way home, I was worn down.

I lashed out at everyone around me. My husband took the brunt of it, and I was often unkind to him, even criticizing him in public. I had no patience for anyone or anything.

I left, became self-employed, and quickly found myself with the kind of “contract” job that wants you on-site 4 or 5 days a week. Once again, I was facing the snarling traffic, except now my commute was even longer than before, and I wasn’t even getting health insurance! The work environment was toxic– I hated my “boss,” though I respected my co-workers. One day, I received an email first thing in the morning that all developers were to report to a different building. An engineer had died overnight at his desk. At 4:30 in the morning, he’d had a heart attack, and was not found until 7:30.

It boggled my mind that someone would voluntarily be at his desk at 4:30 AM, especially at the place we were working. I didn’t want that to be me. Of course, I knew the chances of it being me were slim– I have a healthy heart and, spending 90 minutes to 2 hours a day in vicious traffic meant I was much more likely to die in a fiery car crash.

A year and a half later, we moved into the motorhome and started our journey.

The other day, I was laying in bed thinking about how full of rage I was back then. Even though I still have stress, and even though every moving day is a bit of a contest of wills, I find that I am not so much angry anymore. I get upset at the news, but I stopped reading or listening to most news sources over a year ago, and I honestly haven’t regretted it for a minute. I don’t have that grueling commute anymore, and I am definitely a happier person as a result.I wonder if people who have high stress in their lives could test out telecommuting and find out if the drive itself, the act of competing with other drivers for the road (for that is what it always feels like, no matter how defensive a driver you may be, during the commute hours), is what contributes to one’s stress. I know people who bike or walk to work have less stress overall– exercise, after all, relieves stress and anxiety. But I also wonder if these people have less anger as well.

If you telecommute, work from home, or walk/bike to work, what do you think? Do you have less anger than you did when you drove to work (if you ever drove to work)? Does simply taking out the time in auto traffic reduce stress and anxiety so much that it might be considered a prescription for anger management?

Originally posted to Life on the Road.

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