Helpful Tips in Dealing With The Anxiety of Driving
Driving can be a stressful experience for anyone on occasion, but for some people, it is an anxiety-producing experience every single time; for others, the anxiety is so strong that they refuse to drive at all. When anxiety becomes irrationally crippling, it has become a phobia. If you find yourself asking, “How to deal with the anxiety of driving?” there are a number of tips and strategies that can help you regain control and experience the freedom and independence that driving allows.
How does Anxiety while Driving Manifest Itself?
For those who have never experienced anxiety while driving, it might be difficult to understand. The anxiety of driving is associated with agoraphobia (fear of open spaces). In relation to driving, agoraphobia is more about being trapped in a vehicle, between vehicles, but mainly losing control.
People with driving anxiety and phobias describe the feeling as a type of panic attack, characterised by an increase in heart rate, sweating, difficulty breathing, dizziness, and the feeling of being sick or passing out. These are powerful symptoms, which is why many who suffer from driving anxiety choose to abandon driving altogether.
Tips to Ease the Anxiety
Often, it is a loss of control that people fear the most. One way to minimise that fear is to build confidence, and one of the best ways to build confidence with driving is to enrol in a Defensive Driving course to sharpen your driving skills.
Another strategy is referred to as ‘desensitisation,’ which entails gradually building up your tolerance to driving. People with driving phobias might simply start with sitting in a car. Next, they might progress to sitting in a car while it’s running. From there, driving in a quiet safe environment, like a parking lot, is a good next step.
It can be easier said than done, especially when anxiety and phobias are at play, but the power of a positive attitude and changing the pattern of your thinking can be transformative. When you start to feel those negative thoughts forming, try and change the pattern to something more positive. Instead of, “Oh, no. I have to drive tomorrow,” make an active effort to change your thought process to, “Okay, I know I have to drive, and I know I will feel anxious, but I also know I’ll survive.”
Make Healthy Choices
This can seem like a simplistic approach, but healthy choices can help stave off anxiety as well as improve your ability to handle it. Limit your caffeine intake, eat healthy food, exercise regularly (natural stress inhibitor), and make sure you are getting enough sleep, especially before a day that involves driving.