Tips on how to reduce anxiety and fear while driving
Driving is an extremely useful skill and we often cannot carry out our everyday tasks and errands without travelling from one place to another. However, there are many people who experience extreme anxiety in different ways. Some people experience anxiety before even getting into the car while others fear the driving aspect. Consequently, their driving phobia affects their life and often interferes with their work. Are you dealing with this problem too?
What is causing your phobia?
The fear of driving can have multiple causes, such as having been involved in an accident, dealing with panic attacks and fearing you can have one in traffic, or performance anxiety (worrying that you will attract negative attention). Some drivers fear or have been yelled at or provoked while they were learning to drive by unprofessional and uncaring driving instructors. Whether you are afraid you could cause or be involved in an accident or you dread the idea of someone honking their horn at you, there is a solution for any anxious driver.
The first step of curing your driving fear is understanding how your anxiety started. If you cannot handle your anxiety alone, you shouldn’t resign and suffer endlessly. The best solution can be getting help from a therapist and undergoing cognitive reprogramming.
Consider driving lessons
If it has been a long time since you last attempted to drive, and you are afraid of getting back behind the wheel, you can take defensive driving lessons with someone who is specialised in helping fearful drivers to get back on the road. What you might need is being reassured by a friendly driving instructor who will provide hands-on lessons in a place where you feel safe.
Avoid negative thinking
If you keep thinking that being in a car will attract an accident, you will never feel comfortable while driving. Driving is dangerous when done irresponsibly, but if you know your limitations and drive with care and to your limits, you will be safe.
Learn relaxation techniques
People learning to drive initially study and learn a lot of theory while preparing for their driver knowledge test, but they are never really taught how to relax whilst driving. Relaxing is vital because when you are nervous the amount of information reaching your brain is limited and you won’t be able to react efficiently in urgent situations. A good idea to put into practice is becoming aware when you tighten and then eliminating the tension consciously. Every time you notice you become tensed, apply relaxation techniques and make this exercise your second nature while driving.
Those who have not been driving for a long time should return to it slowly, in small steps. For instance, in the beginning you should just get used to the car and controls again, than take small drives on familiar quiet roads, and increase the time spent at the wheel gradually until you feel ready to drive on busy roads again.
You can feel more confident while driving if you use affirmations such as “It’s OK if I drive slowly and safely – I can use the right-hand lane and feel safe.” Use positive thinking and you will handle challenges much better.
Try to avoid stressful situations when driving, such as peak hours, high speed, or driving at night, until you feel more confident because stress can easily lead to anxiety and make driving a frightening experience.
Take this easy Anxiety Test to see if your anxiety is within the “normal range.” This scientifically based anxiety test by Calmclinic is designed specifically for anxiety sufferers and is completely free. It simply provides you with feedback about the level of your anxiety and tips with beating your symptoms.