You’re a busy person and you’re always on the go. You need to get from point A to point B, but there’s one problem: you’re anxious behind the wheel. Driving anxiety can be a real hurdle for many people, preventing them from accomplishing everyday tasks. If you’re looking at how to overcome driving anxiety, here are some tips to get you started.
Understand the causes of driving anxiety
Most people experience a certain level of driving-related anxiety when they have to drive in traffic. For some, severe driving anxiety can be so overwhelming that it interferes with their ability to function normally. Some people stop driving altogether if it has a detrimental effect on mental health.
Other people experience mild anxiety, such as embarrassing parking mishaps that can trigger anxiety in the future.
While there are many different causes of driving anxiety, the following are some of the most common:
The fear of being in a car accident
The fear of being in a car accident is one of the most common causes of driving anxiety. When you’re behind the wheel in the driver’s seat, you’re in control of your own safety. This can be a frightening responsibility for some people, leading to anxiety and panic attacks.
If you’re afraid of being in a car accident, there are a few things you can do to ease your anxiety. First, make sure you’re always following the rules of the road. This includes obeying speed limits, using your turn signals, and staying aware of your surroundings.
Second, practice defensive driving techniques. This means being prepared for the worst-case scenario and knowing how to react if it happens. You can seek out a specialist driving instructor who can help with learning additional driving skills.
In the UK, Pass Plus is a practical training course taken after passing the standard driving test. You’ll experience six more hours of driving lessons including driving on motorways at high speeds, how to avoid near misses, the most effective ways to stay calm, and to build confidence in yourself as a safe driver.
Finally, keep your car in good condition. This includes making sure your tires are properly inflated, your brakes are in good working order, and your headlights are clean and bright.
The fear of losing control
Another common cause of driving anxiety is the fear of losing control. This can be a result of previous traumatic experiences, such as being in a car accident or witnessing one. It can also be due to a fear of the unknown, such as driving in an unfamiliar area. If you’re afraid of losing control, you may feel like you need to grip the steering wheel tightly or take deep breaths to calm yourself.
The fear of panic attacks or having a panic attack while driving
For some people, the thought of having a panic attack while driving is so terrifying that it prevents them from getting behind the wheel altogether. If you’re afraid of having a panic attack, it’s important to understand that they are not dangerous and you will not lose control of your car. Panic attacks can be very frightening, but they are not harmful.
Being uncomfortable with the speed or aggressiveness of other drivers
When it comes to driving anxiety, one of the most common triggers is the fear of being in a car accident. This can be caused by the speed or aggressiveness of other drivers. If you feel uncomfortable when you’re behind the wheel, it’s important to stay aware of your surroundings and use defensive driving techniques.
Whatever the cause, understanding your triggers is an important first step in addressing your anxiety.
Practice deep breathing exercises and positive visualization
Next, once you know your triggers, you can start to work on overcoming them. One way to do this is through deep breathing exercises and positive visualization. Visualize yourself driving confidently and smoothly, without any anxiety or stress. If you can picture it in your mind, you’ll be more likely to achieve it in real life.
Avoid rush hour
Whenever possible, try to avoid rush hour traffic. This can be a trigger for many people’s anxiety. If you can plan your route around the busiest times of day, you’ll likely feel more relaxed behind the wheel.
Avoid caffeine where possible
Caffeine is a stimulant, so it can make anxiety worse. If you’re struggling with driving anxiety, try to avoid caffeine before getting behind the wheel.
Get plenty of sleep
Driving when you’re tired can be dangerous and can make anxiety worse. If you’re well-rested, you’ll be more alert and less likely to feel anxious.
Tune into calming music or nature sounds while driving
And finally, one last tip for driving anxiety is to focus on calming music or nature sounds. Listening to soothing music can help ease your tension and make driving feel more relaxing. Whether through an app or a radio station, choose music that helps you unwind and focus on the journey ahead.
Consider hypnotherapy for driving anxiety
Hypnotherapy for Driving Anxiety is a treatment which uses hypnosis to help people with anxiety when driving. It is a relatively new therapy, and there is still some debate over how effective it is. However, many people have found that it has helped them to overcome their driving phobia, and allowed them to get back behind the wheel without feeling anxious.
If you’re interested in trying hypnotherapy, it’s important to find a qualified therapist who has experience treating driving anxiety. Once you’ve found someone you trust, they will work with you to understand your triggers and help you to develop coping mechanisms such as relaxation techniques.
I’ve helped many clients using hypnosis for phobias and fears in London and online. I practice something called Solution Focused Hypnotherapy that doesn’t just help for specific phobias such as the fear of driving, but for any panic disorder. It’s a form of talking therapy that works towards to achieving an ideal version of yourself using positive affirmations, an example would be the future you enjoying a pleasant country drive or being a safe, confident driver in city traffic.
If you’re struggling with driving anxiety and are looking for help, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I offer a free initial consultation so we can chat about your specific situation and see if hypnotherapy could be right for you.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for driving anxiety, these tips can help you to overcome your fears and get back on the road. Just remember to take it one step at a time, and be patient with yourself. With a little time and effort, you’ll be driving confidently in no time.
So take a deep breath, and get ready to hit the open road.