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Health & Balance

How to Avoid the 'Demons' of Summer

Tips for keeping your cool when obnoxious behavior tries to ruin your summer fun.
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The Road Rager

You just set out on your first summer road trip, and you have 200 miles in front of you. But instead of cruising along the highway at 75 mph, you've been playing cat and mouse with an oversized RV -- maybe because you accidentally cut him off when you pulled back onto the highway after stopping for a greasy burger. Three high beams in your rear view mirror later, it's official -- the RV maniac has road rage. How do you handle this dangerous summer demon?

"Don't make eye contact," says Tony Fiore, PhD, a psychologist and anger coach. "That's the secret signal in the animal world to engage in combat."

At high speeds, combat is not recommended. What else can you do to protect yourself from ragers behind the wheel?

  • "Don't respond in kind," says Fiore. "Don't escalate it, because that makes them respond again; then you respond, and before you know it you have a real situation. Let them do what they're going to do and tell yourself it doesn't matter.
  • "Change what is called your 'self-talk' -- what you say to yourself that causes you to get worked up," says Fiore. "When someone cuts you off, automatic thoughts enter your mind: 'What a jerk, he has no right to do that, and I'm going to get even.' You have to challenge that self-talk and remember it's not personal.
  • "Realize that you don't know what's going on in their lives," says Fiore. "She could have just come from the doctor's office and gotten bad news, or he could have found out his wife is going to divorce him after 30 years."

With these dashboard tools, maybe you can get back on the road to summer fun.

The Bully

The public swimming pool is a haven for this dreaded summer demon: the bully. The kid who likes to torture those younger and weaker with dunking, cannonballs, and the worst possible thing that can happen to a kid in a bathing suit during the summer: the wedgie.

"A bully is someone who attempts in an aggressive and physical way to control another person," says Charles Figley, PhD, director of the psychosocial stress program at Florida State University. "Frequently, it's children who are bullies, and its learned behavior; it doesn't happen naturally."

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