Managing holiday stress and road rage

MISSISSIPPI (WTOK) - ALABAMA (WTOK) - The driver accused in the shooting death of a 3-year-old boy because of road rage is behind bars today. The shooting happened last Saturday in Arkansas. The suspect's relatives turned him in to authorities Thursday night.

During the holiday season health-care professionals say stress is not uncommon, but that the key is how a person deals with it. Dr. Lin Hogan is a clinical psychologist with Weems Community Mental Health Center in Meridian. He says the holidays can be hectic because of duties at work, home and holiday preparations. However, he says the key to properly managing responsibilities is a person's perspective.

"Most people think they have to do everything, but they don't have to do everything," says Dr. Hogan. He says pacing yourself in all things, especially while driving during this time of year, is important.

"School's out," says Hogan, "and people are coming into town, and the roads are going to be congested."

He also says there are often many unrelated factors that trigger road rage.

"Usually there are underlying psychological mechanisms," says Dr. Hogan. "Somebody already has something going on in their mind. They may be in a hurry. There may be other types of events going on. They may not feel well that day."

With so many travelers and out-of-town shoppers, Dr. Hogan says it's important for all motorists to understand that many drivers are not familiar with some areas. That's why he says it's important to plan ahead and use patience.

"One of the skills that I encourage people to practice is taking a deep breath. Slow down," says Dr. Hogan. "Know that any type of aggressive act against somebody could be illegal. I think it's really important that we think about the consequences of our behavior."

As for the road rage case in Arkansas, the accused driver is charged with capitol murder. If ultimately found guilty, he could face the death penalty.