Understanding Driving Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms and How To Overcome

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Introduction

For many people, the thought of driving fills them with anxiety. You probably start to feel panicky when you think about being behind the wheel, or your heart races and your hands shake.

If you experience any of these, you’re not alone. Driving anxiety is, in fact, one of the most common phobias in the world. But that doesn’t mean you should tolerate it. There are ways to overcome it and get back behind the wheel with confidence.

In this post, we’ll discuss what driving anxiety is, its symptoms, and how to overcome it.

Understanding driving anxiety

Driving anxiety can manifest in different ways. Some people become very nervous and can’t stop thinking about everything that could go wrong. This anxiety is so severe that it makes it difficult or impossible to drive for some. Others become so overwhelmed that they freeze up and can’t move.

Whatever the symptoms may be, driving anxiety can significantly impact one’s life.

What causes driving anxiety?

There is no definitive answer to this.

Several factors can contribute to one’s fear of driving. It could be some past traumatic experience – like being in a car accident. Or it could be something more subtle, like getting stuck in traffic.

It might be the fear of dying in an accident or driving in busy or unfamiliar areas. Some individuals feel anxious when they’re not sure how to navigate around in a car. Others might feel overwhelmed by all the tasks that need to be done when driving (checking mirrors, watching for pedestrians, etc.).

Regardless of the cause or trigger(s), you can overcome it. The most important thing is to understand what’s causing your fear and address it head-on.

The symptoms of driving anxiety

Driving anxiety is often characterised by one or a mix of the following at the thought of driving:

  • ●  Feeling overwhelmed.

  • ●  Shortness of breath.

  • ●  Light headedness.

  • ●  Dry mouth.

  • ●  Racing heart.

  • ●  Some even avoid driving or being in a vehicle.

  1. How You Can Overcome driving anxiety

    1. So, how do you overcome driving anxiety? The first step is acknowledging that you have a problem and want to fix it. Once you’ve taken that step, here are a few ways to get started:

● Better Understand Your Anxiety Anxiety is a feeling of fear, worry or unease.

Well, it’s also more than that. Anxiety is a natural response to a perceived threat. It’s an attempt by our body to protect us.

When we experience anxiety, our brain goes into overdrive. It’s trying to figure out what’s going on and how to fix it. This can be exhausting, and it’s no wonder that many people with anxiety feel tired.

To overcome our anxiety, we need first to understand it. We need to recognise the signs and symptoms and understand what triggers our anxiety. Only then can we start to work on ways to manage it.

● Set Realistic Goals for Yourself
To conquer your driving anxiety, it’s essential to set realistic goals for yourself. You’re not going to

overcome your fear in a day, and that’s okay! Start by gradually working your way up.

● Bring in Your Supports

When you’re feeling anxious, bringing in your support can be incredibly helpful. This could mean reaching out to a friend or family member for some moral support or even using a driving anxiety app to help you through your journey.

If you’re finding it difficult to focus on the road, why not try listening to music or an audiobook? This can help take your mind off things and make the journey a little less daunting.

Travelling a long-distance? Investing in a relaxation CD or audio book to help you relax and unwind might be worth it.

● Desensitisation
One of the best ways to overcome your driving anxiety is exposure therapy. This means gradually

exposing yourself to the things that make you anxious in a safe and controlled environment.

This can be done in a few ways. One is by driving in low-stress areas, such as neighbourhoods or parks. You can also try driving with a friend or family member who will help keep you calm and relaxed. Finally, you can gradually increase your driving distance or time.

The most important part is to be patient and take things slow. Don’t push yourself too hard, and take breaks as needed. With time and patience, you’ll be able to overcome your driving anxiety and feel confident behind the wheel.

● Control your emotions
Irrational thoughts and emotions can often accompany anxiety. When you’re behind the wheel, it’s

crucial to stay in control of these and not let them take over.

Take a few deep breaths before you get in the car, and remind yourself that you are capable and in control. If negative thoughts or emotions start creeping in, try to reframe them into something more positive.

For example, if you start thinking, “I’m going to crash,” try telling yourself,” I’m driving carefully, and I’m in control.” This will help calm your nerves and put you in a more positive state of mind.

● Eat well

It’s easy to forget to eat properly. But what you put into your body can significantly impact your anxiety levels.

Eating regular, balanced meals is essential for keeping your energy and mood stable. Skipping meals or filling up on junk food will only make you feel worse.

Instead, try to include plenty of healthy fruits and vegetables in your diet. These foods are packed with nutrients that will help keep your mind and body healthy. And when you’re feeling stressed, they can also provide a quick burst of energy.

● Seek help

Suppose you’re struggling to overcome your driving anxiety on your own. It might be a good idea to seek professional help in that case. A therapist will be able to guide you through the root of your problem and help you develop coping mechanisms to deal with your anxiety.

There are also online programs that can help you overcome your anxiety. A few of our favourites are Headspace, Pacifica, and Calm.com. These programs offer a range of exercises and activities to help you manage your anxiety and learn how to live a more peaceful life.

Conclusion

It’s normal to feel some anxiety about driving. After all, you’re responsible for safely getting yourself and any passengers in your car to their destinations. However, if it is so severe that it’s preventing you from doing things you want or need to do, it’s time to seek treatment. Several methods can help you overcome your driving anxiety, including therapy, medication, and self-help techniques. With patience and perseverance, you will overcome and get back to doing the things you love.

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