How To Get Over Driving Anxiety: 5 Tips
Anxiety related to driving a car can be a very powerful force in a persons life, but luckily, there are many ways for an individual to cope with driving related anxiety. By taking steps to understand your anxiety, explore strategies that help minimize symptoms, and implement behavioral interventions, you can take steps to overcome your anxiety.
Here are five ways to cope with feelings of panic and anxiety related to driving:6
What Professional Support Is Available
If youve already tried self-help tools or are looking for another method of support to help you alongside these tools, counselling and hypnotherapy are available.
After being in a car accident, Sophie experienced PTSD and driving anxiety, which nearly led her to give up driving completely. As time went on, I drove less and less. Local journeys would set me off in a surge of tears and panic. I couldn’t sleep if I knew I had to drive the next day. It was slowly taking over my life, I couldn’t get a grip on the emotions.
In her story, she shares how after a couple of failed attempts, finding the right counsellor helped her on the road to recovery.
In some cases of driving anxiety, hypnotherapy can be very helpful. Hypnosis is an absolutely invaluable tool in allowing yourself to break this unhelpful thinking, and giving you the confidence and ability to get behind the wheel again, says psychotherapist and hypnotherapist Brian Turner.
The process induces a positive relaxed state of mind, which will allow you to rediscover that inner confidence that you have. This is done with gentle and encouraging techniques such as positive affirmations, stress management, and systematic desensitisation .
Here Are Some Of My Favorite Social Anxiety Tools
Thanks for reading! I hope you found some helpful tips. Since this site is about social anxiety, I wanted to also share some tools I use that I hope youll find helpful. Some of these are affiliate links, so if you decide to try them, Ill earn a commission. However, I only recommend things I have used myself and would recommend to a friend or family member.
Online Therapy: For online therapy, I have personally used and like the service offered by Betterhelp. It’s easy to get started from the comfort of your home. You’ll even get a discount on your first month of therapy when you use my link.
Doctor Visits: For doctor visits, Web Doctors offers convenient online appointments.
Audible Subscription: I recommend a lot of self-help books on this site, but I actually prefer an audiobook subscription over print books! My favorite subscription service is Audible because it has all the best-sellers and they stay in your digital library forever . You can and listen to your first two books for free.
Social Anxiety Masterclass: The Social Anxiety Masterclass is my signature course where I walk you through everything I know about how to manage social anxiety. If you’re not ready to enroll in the course, be sure to to hear about special deals!
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Tips On How To Reduce Anxiety And Fear While Driving
by LDS Team |
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?
Causes Of Driving Phobia
There are different reasons why there are fearful drivers. The most common cause is the fear that they might have a panic attack while driving. The other causes of driving phobia are:
- Personally experiencing a car accident in the past
- Witnessing other cars tragic accidents or hearing about a car accident that involves someone close to you
- Getting lost for hours while driving without access to help
- Experiencing heavy traffic
- Lack of trust in ones driving skills
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What Causes Fear Of Driving
The distress or fear of driving can take place for a number of reasons. Psychologists agree that the more common causes of driving phobia are the fear of having a panic attack during the car ride. Many a time, drivers have a panic attack when driving and then have a major fear of that happening again. This leads some drivers to stop driving altogether, which is not a sustainable solution.
Other times, other phobias can be linked to the driving phobia. These may include agoraphobia the fear of being trapped , claustrophobia the fear of enclosed spaces, etc.
But it is not always possible to always link the fear of driving with other phobias. Such a phobia is a simple driving phobia, which is caused by prior bad experiences or your friends and familys history of driving.
If you have undergone an unfortunate motor vehicle accident, you may be at risk of developing a driving phobia. Other possible triggers of driving phobia may be driving in a big storm, losing a sense of direction, being pulled over by the cops, or driving in very heavy traffic. Moreover, the bad experience does not necessarily have to be your own. Coming across a particularly bad crash in person or on TV, or listening to someone elses story of a crash is reason enough for this phobia to develop.
Causes Of Driving Anxiety
There are several different types of driving anxiety and thousands of experiences that may lead to panic behind the wheel. Two of the most common causes of driving anxiety include:
- Panic Attack While Driving
One of the most frightening instances of driving anxiety occurs when someone has a panic/anxiety attack while operating a vehicle. Panic attacks overwhelm individuals, because they encompass your entire mind and body, making it difficult to concentrate on anything else. When they come on, it can feel like there is no escape, which is only heightened if this happens when driving. Unfortunately, these events can cause increased anxiety with driving, because of the fear of having another panic attack behind the wheel. If allowed to have these thoughts, people will likely incite another panic attack. These attacks have a way of repeating simply based on the fear of having it again.
- Dangerous Situations
Anxiety also tends to occur as a response to dangerous experiences or perceived dangerous experiences. For example, an accident or several near accidents may promote anxiety of driving. Even hearing about car accidents or seeing them can contribute to that anxiety.
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Create A Peaceful Driving Environment
External factors like noise smells, and a lot of clutter can increase anxiety and fear, even if it is subconsciously. Try playing peaceful music in the car to help calm the nerves. Find an air freshener that makes you feel calm and happy to use in the vehicle. Another great tool is to keep your car clean. Pick up trash and organize your belongings so that there is less clutter weighing you down mentally.
Worried About Getting Back On The Road After Lockdown Here Are Some Tips To Help Ease The Anxiety
If youve not been driving much over the past few months, chances are you might feel a little worried about getting back on the road when lockdown restrictions ease.
And, if you are suffering from driving nerves or anxiety, youre not alone. In a recent survey by Nissan, 23% of drivers said they felt anxious about using motorways and 39% felt scared or uncertain behind the wheel in general. Not only this but, since the UK first went into lockdown in March 2020, Google searches related to driving nerves and anxiety have increased by a staggering 52%.
Here, we explore whats going on behind the anxiety and share some tips to help you combat these feelings and become more confident behind the wheel.
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What Can I Do About It
So far, we’ve talked about some really common reasons that people with anxiety find driving uncomfortable. And, in many of them, I’ve offered some suggestions.
But, beyond that, I have some general suggestions to make you feel more comfortable behind the wheel. I will discuss each of these below.
Preparation. Having routines and safety behaviours is generally a bad thing because it doesn’t tackle the anxiety itself. And it can feel awful when something disrupts them. But things that everyone would do, like having a map or sat nav, a blanket and a torch, and getting your car serviced regularly is always worthwhile.
Music. Listening to music can be a good way to give you something to focus on other than your anxiety. Driving is largely automatic, which is why we have attention left over to worry. Playing music is a good way to redirect it to something else.
Singing. Don’t just passively listen to music: song along. Songs you know well are best because they won’t distract you from paying attention to the road. Singing is a good way to improve your mood and make you feel happier.
Practice . One way to tackle driving anxiety, particularly if there is a situation that worries you, is to go out and do it more. It’s uncomfortable and unpleasant, but, if done in the correct way, can make you feel better in the long term. Read our guide to exposure therapy to find out how to do it correctly.
Avoid Anxious Situations When Driving:
The last place to be when trying to solve your driving anxiety or panic attack problem is a troubling environment or anything that can distract your driving. Make sure your vehicle meets minimum safety driving standards. Avoid freeway driving, check the blind spots, and signal when turning or changing lanes. These things help in reducing anxiety. Do not put yourself in situations that may make you a victim of road rage as this will only increase your problem.
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Panic Attacks While Driving
Panic attacks are short periods of intense fear that happen unexpectedly. If you have a driving phobia, you are highly to have these attacks that may lead to a panic disorder.
Medical professionals diagnose the presence of panic attacks. You will be asked to describe your experience when and where it happened, and what you were doing at that moment. The good news is these attacks are treatable.
How I Can Help You When Others Cant
I am both one of the UKs most experienced driving instructors and also a professional hypnotherapist. I have taught over 1,000 people to drive over the last 20 years, trained hundreds of driving instructors and made over 600 YouTube videos that have had over 10 million views.
In other words, I know my stuff!
Someone that is just a driving instructor cant get rid of anxiety because they dont know how to. They often make the mistake of booking you a driving lesson and putting you in a car right into the very situation that makes you anxious. Driving instructors will often just teach you how to deal with anxiety or cope with it but thats no good. You want it gone!
Therapists often offer a wide range of services without being an expert in any of them. You can easily find therapy sites offering services to beat anxiety, quit smoking, lose weight, sleep better and much more. They do a bit of everything and arent particularly good at any of it! As the saying goes: jack of all trades, master of none.
If you want to get rid of driving anxiety then you need an expert who specialises in it me.
You can learn more about these things on my page on vehophobia .
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Stay Away From Food That Trigger Anxiety
One notable thing that has been associated with anxiety is low blood sugar. It is, therefore, important to avoid foods that spike blood sugar and force the body to mop it fast. These include fast foods and beverages sweetened with processed sugars. Instead, you should take foods that release carbohydrates slowly to keep the blood sugar at the right level. For example, consider munching some potato crisps, popcorns, and nuts when driving to keep the blood sugar at the right level.
Driving Has Changed Can I Keep Up
Its extremely normal for senior drivers or those who havent been on the roads for many years to have fears about staying in, or returning to the drivers seat.
If your confidence needs a boost, even the most previously self-assured driver could benefit from an occasional refresher course. Not only will they keep you up to date with any changes that may have passed you by, they might just reinvigorate that love for driving you once had.
Its also surprisingly easy to fall into bad habits or forget some of the key learnings from first time around, so setting aside a few hours with an approved instructor can be the best way to brush up.
Refresher courses arent assessed, so theres no need to worry about passing or failing, and are many options around, including that of the Institute of Advanced Motorists.
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Interrogate Your Catastrophic Thoughts
When you drive or think about driving, do you worry about the worst case scenario? For example, do you focus on the idea of crashing, getting caught by a speed camera or becoming lost? It is likely that these catastrophic thoughts are triggering your panic attacks.
Learning to pause and challenge these worries can help you to start recognising their irrationality. This can then stop catastrophic thoughts in their tracks before they lead to panic attacks.
How Do I Know I Have Driving Anxiety
If your palms sweat, you feel shaky or your breaths become short when you’re about to drive, you may be suffering with driving anxiety according to the AA.
There are a few reasons you could be feeling this way about driving maybe you were recently involved in an accident or near accident, or maybe you’re just out of practice.
Nearly 47% of us worked from home during the pandemic according to the Office of National Statistics , and many of us still are. If you’re no longer in the routine of driving to work everyday, it makes sense that you feel more anxious when you do have to drive.
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Start Small With Exposure
Even though you may be tempted to take bold steps to resolve your driving anxiety, stressful situations require time and patience to resolve. Avoid putting yourself in a position where you are not likely to succeed.
To reduce driving anxiety, spend time thinking about the aspects of driving that trigger anxiety. Ask yourself:
- When does the anxiety start?
- What makes the anxiety peak?
- When do the anxiety symptoms decrease
- What does the anxiety feel like?
Be cautious, trying to move too quickly can actually increase the driving related anxiety.