Teens And Driving Anxiety
Driver anxiety is a common affliction for many Americans today, but it can be incredibly hard-hitting for teens who have little experience to fall back on. Navigating Americas chaotic roadways is difficult enough for the mature driver, but it can be downright terrifying for teens.
Driver anxiety is a specialized form of anxiety marked by periods of discomfort and stress, with symptoms varying in severity. Some signs, like an extreme panic attack, could pose a significant risk of injury to both you and the drivers around you. Some people may avoid driving altogether to avoid these negative feelings and, quite possibly, a negative outcome while behind the wheel.
We look to the experts to see best practices for living with and overcoming teen driver anxiety on the road.
What Can You Do If You Feel Nervous About Driving
When getting back to driving, its important to take it easy and go at your own pace.
The aim is to feel calm about getting into the car in the first place, says Joanne. If you get into the car as a calm person then you have a much greater chance of staying that way than you would if you were getting into the car already feeling stressed and anxious.
Here are some tips to help you remain calm and make your journey run smoothly:
1. Take care of yourself before you even get in the car. Whatever keeps you calm, do more of it, whether that’s yoga, running, meditation or listening to music. Creating a calmer environment will help reduce your stress levels in general. It can also be sensible to avoid caffeine before you drive, as it can trigger anxiety in some people.
To help you relax, try listening to the following session of calm with hypnotherapist Natasha Crowe.
2. Plan ahead. Driving in unfamiliar surroundings can trigger nerves or feelings of anxiety. Try to familiarise yourself with where youre going by using Google Maps to check out the different routes you can take. If you can, try doing a test run with a supportive loved one or at a time when the roads are quieter and you wont feel rushed.
3. Stay local. Make a few local journeys on routes you know well. We feel most at ease when were in familiar surroundings and have previous experience driving there.
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Ensuing Panic Or Anxiety
As an untreated person heads out onto the highway, that trapped sensation builds. People ruminate on this issue as they drive. As a result, the mind ends up in a panic or anxiety mode. Sweat starts to break out on the skin, the breathing becomes labored and the heart races.
Accidents can occur if a person continues down this anxiety pathway. Because those negative thoughts seem to be coming true during a panic attack, people simply stay away from these situations. Facing their fears, however, is the only way to overcome them.
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This means being aware of your thoughts and returning your awareness to the present moment any time you find yourself becoming immersed in What if negative thinking.
One way to do this is to list in your head five things you can see and five things you can hear.
The point of this exercise is to shift you into non-judging mindful awareness.
If you want to work on your subconscious mind to improve your anxiety, you could even consider a hypnotherapy CD such as the Overcome Fear of Driving Self Hypnosis CD by Rachael Eccleself Hypnosis with Rachael Eccles.
Psychotherapists have successfully used hypnosis techniques with clients for various things that involve an unconscious component such as fear of blushing.
If you feel like a lot of your anxiety is below the surface and your reactions are outside your control, self-hypnosis could be helpful.
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The Link Between Travel And Anxiety
Again, many people experience fear of flying or driving even if they dont have an anxiety disorder. In at least one researchers opinion, fear of the unknown is the most basic human fear. What represents the unknown more than leaving the comfort of home?
So, if the thought of flying or driving in unfamiliar territory makes you feel more than a little jittery, its not uncommon. The good news is you can manage these fears.
What Are The Treatment Options For Driving Anxiety
The tips and techniques shared above are effective in overcoming ochophobia. Most of these tips can be actualized alone, meaning you can work on your driving anxiety at your pace and without bothering others.
However, it is essential to remember that driving anxiety is just another form of anxiety. And some anxieties need professional intervention to help overcome them. If you feel youre not making any progress on your own, you can approach a professional for an expert approach.
When it comes to professional treatment options for driving anxiety, psychological therapies are the first line of treatment.
Here are a few therapies that can be used to overcome driving anxiety:
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Other Strategies For Anxiety
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle may help someone with driving anxiety manage their symptoms.
The ADAA advises people who experience anxiety to use the following strategies:
- talking with a partner, friend, or doctor about their anxiety
- becoming aware of what triggers anxiety by keeping a journal
- being active, eating a balanced diet, and avoiding skipping meals
- avoiding caffeine, which can trigger anxiety symptoms
Try To Understand The Reason Behind Your Anxiety
You cant overcome what you dont know. As mentioned above, your fear might be due to several reasons. Do you experience anxiety about driving on a highway because you experienced or saw an accident or because you dont feel confident enough?
Whatever the reason may be you must identify it to take the first step to get over it and drive comfortably.
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Fear Of Past Experiences
Managing a traumatic experience, like a car accident, is always something difficult. No matter if you were the driver or the passenger, psychological wounds remain. This one of the hardest fears to confront. Depending on the type of accident, whether there were injuries or worse, fatal victims, you may need professional help. As any other fear, the best approach is taking action and confronting what you dread, in this case driving.
What Are The Complications Of Amaxophobia
Severe amaxophobia can affect your quality of life. You may struggle to get to work, shop or attend social events. It can be difficult, sometimes impossible, to travel to see family, friends or go on vacation.
Some people experience panic attacks, which cause non-cardiac chest pain, racing heart rate and symptoms like a heart attack. Persistent worries about having panic attacks can lead to a panic disorder that requires the long-term use of anti-anxiety medications.
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Why Are People Afraid To Drive
While the distress or fear of driving happens for a variety of reasons, Greene says one of the more common causes is the fear of having a panic attack while driving.
Sometimes, people have a panic attack when driving and then have a significant fear of that happening again. This leads some people to stop driving altogether, he said.
According to Wind, some other causes include:
- past experiences of car accidents
- being lost
Tips To Overcoming Driving Anxiety
Get In Touch With A Driving Instructor: You wouldnt believe the number of people scared to drive simply because they are not equipped enough to. To enhance a beginners driving skills and to ensure confidence behind the wheel, it helps to have a gentle and patient driving instructor in the passenger seat who guides you through the process and helps you to lessen the risk of a traffic accident. Practice makes perfect and using practice tests, defensive driving courses, and adequate drivers ed will help you perfect this skill once and for all.
Meditate: The key to a good, comfortable drive is relaxing your mind. And what better way to relax than to meditate! Meditation has been established as the most efficient way to relax, focus, and unravel all troublesome thoughts. The best part about meditating is how it costs nothing and does not require you to leave your house! Everything you need for an all-encompassing meditation session is readily available on Youtube. Just look up meditation-videos tailored to your anxiety and you are good to go!
Verbalize Your Fears: You must have noticed in the people around you how naming ones fears tend to make them sound silly, and hence humanizes them. While one person would be reduced to tears when they come across a lizard, another person would simply chuckle at the tiny creature.
Positive Affirmations For The Win: Whenever you feel anxiety taking over, just tell yourself the following:
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How To Get Over Driving Anxiety
- 5 min read
Driving is an essential skill of modern times. When you are in the driving seat, you can comfortably cover a long distance at your own pace.
Additionally, this skill allows you to go on exciting road trips and explore the world. But most importantly, it gives you an incredible sense of independence. However, some of us become overwhelmed at the thought of getting behind the wheel.
For some people, the fear is related to operating a vehicle, but a few people cant even bear to sit on the passengers side. Whereas some people are only anxious about driving in certain situations, such as in the rain or fog or through a tunnel.
This fear or avoidance of driving is referred to as driving anxiety. People with this condition suffer extreme distress at the thought of driving and might avoid any situation involving a car. This avoidance might cause disruptions in daily life activities such as commuting.
If you know or are such a person, you will benefit from this article. We designed this piece to give more information about driving anxiety and techniques to overcome it.
Why Am I Experiencing Anxiety Symptoms
Some people are more prone to experiencing anxiety than others and it is not caused by just one thing but by a combination of factors including: genetics, family environment and traumatic life experiences. Sufferers may have unhelpful thinking patterns such as perfectionist standards. Nevertheless, you can learn to manage your anxiety more effectively.
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Having A Panic Attack
It is not uncommon for people to have a panic attack while driving. It can get intense on the road, especially with heavy traffic and everyone raging. Someone with a history of panic attacks might become afraid that panic attacks will repeat if they drive.
After all, experiencing a panic attack while driving is dangerous for you and others on the road. So, it makes sense some people avoid driving as a result.
However, if your emotions stop you from living everyday life, practicing to overcome anxiety attacks can definitely help.
Here are some tips for if you get a panic attack while driving:
- Recognize that you are having a panic attack
- Let the other passengers know you are having a panic attack and tell them about relaxation techniques that work for you
- Immediately and safely pull over
- Turn on your hazard lights
- Stay in the car and take deep, relaxing breaths
- Utilize healthy coping mechanisms to calm down
Learning to cope with panic attacks can help lessen or relieve driving anxiety.
Take Drivers Training Lessons
Some people fear driving because they doubt their driving skills. For this reason, it is recommended that you take a drivers training course to sharpen your skills and experience. These lessons will teach you what it takes to be a good driver and how to overcome your driving phobia. Once youve completed the driving lessons, youll gain more confidence and will be ready to hit the road like a pro.
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Evaluate Your Life Wholesomely
One aspect of your life can easily spill into other spheres. For example, when youre stressed, it affects your health, diet, and work. The same goes for driving anxiety. In many cases, the cause of this anxiety is hidden in other spheres of your life.
Evaluate other aspects of your life to see if there are any correlating or causative factors. Stress, for instance, can lead to sleepless nights, feeling lethargic, and inability to concentrate. This can, in turn, impact your ability and confidence to drive.
Create An Anxiety Scale
As mentioned above, most panic attacks are unprecedented and can happen at any time. This means you have little to no time to react and get yourself back to normal. However, most attacks occur gradually and follow the same pattern.
If you can map out this pattern, youll recognize when youre getting a panic attack and therefore take practical steps to remedy the situation.
Heres an example of an anxiety scale:
- 0 Relaxed and calm: youre at peace and naturally relaxed.
- 1 Slight anxiety: you feel slightly nervous and more aware and alert than usual.
- 2 Mild anxiety: your muscles are tense and tingly, and you feel butterflies in your stomach.
- 3 Moderate anxiety: your heartbeat and breath are increasing, and you feel slightly uncomfortable.
- 4 Marked anxiety: muscle tension increases, you feel more uncomfortable, and youre now wondering if youre able to stay in control.
- 5 Mild panic: your heart beats faster and irregularly, you feel dizzy, and youre afraid youre losing control.
- 6 Moderate panic: your heart is palpitating, you have difficulty breathing, and you feel disoriented.
- 7 to 10 Full panic attack: youre experiencing terror, youre afraid of dying, and youre now exhibiting panic attack symptoms.
Your anxiety scale could vary depending on specific factors. However, this is the raw format and progression of an anxiety attack. Recognizing what stage youre in and what follows next will help you understand what to do next.
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What Is Driving Anxiety
Driving anxiety is the intense fear and distress at the thought of driving a vehicle. People with driving anxiety will go to great lengths to avoid driving.
Sometimes, this fear can be so overwhelming that you find it challenging to get into a car, even when youre not the one driving it. Driving anxiety is also known as amaxophobia, motorphobia, or acrophobia.
In most instances, driving anxiety is common with new and practicing drivers.
Naturally, this fear can go away and become manageable as you become a more proficient driver.
However, there are numerous cases where the motorphobia stuck with the driver even after learning how to drive.
For most novel drivers, driving anxiety is apparent when navigating difficult road obstacles like driving through crowded places or driving on a busy street.
It is important to note that driving anxiety doesnt affect new drivers only. Experienced drivers can also develop amaxophobia. This is usually the result of an accident, psychological factor, or a multitude of other issues.
Surprisingly, driving anxiety is relatively common among drivers. However, since the degree it impacts your driving can vary, it may go unnoticed for a long time. One peculiar example is people who find it hard to drive under specific conditions.
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Bring Someone You Trust
A great way to combat the fear of driving is to have someone ride in the passenger seat who you trust. It can be a friend, family member, or a driving instructor. Having someone there to listen or help talk you through the anxiety can relieve a lot of the stress involved. Even if they just make some small talk, it can help get your mind off your fears and just focus on the driving.