Do you suffer from anxiety when driving, or have a phobia of getting behind the wheel? Many have fears of driving for many different reasons, but there are ways you can work to overcome this fear.
To learn more about overcoming driving anxiety, keep reading. In this guide, we’ll go over some things you can do to relieve your fear of driving so that you can have more freedom and peace behind the wheel and get information from INTERNATIONAL DRIVERS ASSOCIATION.
Get Comfortable In Your Vehicle
The best way to start conquering your fear of driving is to learn how to practice relaxation techniques behind the wheel. You want to work to make your car a peaceful environment rather than one that causes you panic or anxiety. Try working at first to just feel comfortable sitting in your car without actually driving.
You can continually try to take a few minutes to take a deep breath and get comfortable in your car before driving. You may consider playing calming music to elevate some of the tension you may be feeling. If you have anxiety driving as it is, noisy or distracting passengers can make you feel even worse.
Cut down on distractions by making sure your car is quiet and clutter-free. If you feel unsafe in your car and it’s leading to your anxiety, make sure that you get your car checked on, repaired, and updated regularly to help you gain some reassurance.
Calming Breathing Techniques and Exercises
If you begin to feel the panic rising while driving, there are some things you can do to help. Try relaxing abdominal breathing excersies which are a great relaxation technique that you can do even when your hands are not free. If you feel your chest or neck tighten, or your breath shortens, try breathing down deep into your lungs.
First, inhale deeply through your nose and focus on getting the air deep into the very bottom of your lungs, filling them up with air. As your belly expands, pause for a moment at the end of the inhale, holding the air in. You can then slowly exhale the air out of the mouth.
You can repeat this process until your breath normalizes and you feel your body start to relax. This allows you to slow the breath and focus on something that can help to calm the mind. You can count the breaths to add even more focus to this technique.
If you find that your anxiety while driving is overwhelming and that breathing techniques do not work, it’s best to pull over and take time to calm down so that you are protecting yourself and others on the road. If much of your anxiety results in the feeling of tension in your muscles, progressive muscle relaxation, or PMR, may help. This involves tightening and releasing muscle groups in the body and allows one to better understand how we hold and release tension in the body.
When you begin to feel panicked, try clenching one of your fists for about ten minutes and then releasing and relaxing it for about fifteen seconds. As you release your hand, focus on how it feels to release this tension. You can then move onto other muscle groups in the body to release tension in other areas.
It’s helpful for some to practice PMR even when they aren’t feeling stressed or anxious. Practicing this method for about twenty minutes a day can help one improve their sense of control over one’s mood which can help to limit the frequency of panic attacks and improve concentration.
Face Your Fear
One of the best ways to get over a fear is to face it, a method often referred to as exposure therapy. However, to do so safely, there are some things you will need to prepare for. You need to have some kind of relaxation technique that works for you before you get behind the wheel to make sure you will have control during the session.
While facing your fear may be scary, it’s a must, as phobias often get worse over time and can also lead to developing other phobias. When first starting out, drive in an area you know well and that has limited distractions or challenges, such as traffic. Before getting behind the wheel, there are a few things that you can do to face your fear in a way that will prepare you for driving.
You might consider facing your fears about driving by writing them down. Think about the specific things that give you anxiety about driving and write them down. You can go back and start ranking these fears so that you can start to slowly work through them.
You can then take gradual steps towards overcoming your fear of driving. For example, you could start by just sitting in your car without driving, then move on to driving around the block. Eventually, you can work towards driving for longer times in areas that may be more populated.
Is your fear of driving caused by a recent accident? If so, follow this link to read more about recovery.
Tips for Overcoming Driving Anxiety
If you have a fear of driving, you’re not alone. Overcoming driving anxiety isn’t easy, but there are plenty of methods out there that can get you headed in the right direction so that you can overcome this fear.
For more on driving, head to the “Travel” section of our site.