Some teens get excited to have a driver’s license finally. However, some people, including adults, fear driving and avoid it as much as they can. The cases vary from person to person. Some people are okay with driving in general but suddenly get anxious when passing through tunnels or bridges. The effects are also different. Sometimes, it just causes mild discomfort, but others experience extreme distress.
Some people develop driving anxiety due to a traffic accident. It could also be caused by an experience driving in very harsh and challenging conditions like in the middle of a storm. You could be afraid of highways and fast cars. Or you feel cramped inside a vehicle.
Driving anxiety is something you develop over time, and nobody is an exception. An accident could be from years back, and you only get anxious thoughts now. You could even be a car enthusiast and develop it. One day, you’re thinking about protecting your vehicle from the elements, so you browse carport options on websites like justpatios.com.au. And then avoid your car like it’s the plague a week later.
If you are unsure whether you have driving anxiety or not, it’s best to consult with a professional. To help you identify the symptoms, these are the things that people with driving anxiety experience:
- You feel restless just thinking about driving.
- You feel on edge when you drive.
- Driving sucks your energy. You feel fatigued after a trip.
- Tension in the neck and back while driving.
- You are unable to concentrate while you drive.
- You get easily irritated while driving.
- You get bad dreams about your driving.
How to Overcome Driving Anxiety
Driving anxiety should be addressed immediately. Negative thoughts and lack of concentration can cause accidents. At the same time, fear of driving will limit the activities you can do and enjoy. These are some ways you can overcome your driving anxiety:
1. Get to the Root of the Problem
The best way to address any problem is to trace it back to the root cause. Try hard to remember the reason why you developed a fear of driving. Understanding where it came from will help you and your therapist come up with a way to minimize the symptoms.
Ask yourself when it began. Remember what made it worse, and the people and the things involved. An important thing you can get from this is that you will find out whether the anxiety you get is the main problem or just a symptom of a bigger one.
Sometimes, anxiety is an effect of post-traumatic stress disorder. If that is the case, you should treat the more significant problem and not just the anxious thoughts.
2. Practice Desensitization
This is a standard therapy method. It helps you become comfortable with what you fear. Suppose your anxiety is so intense that you cannot get into a car anymore. In that case, the cure is doing the exact opposite.
But of course, you can’t force it to happen all at one time. This process can be slow and will depend on how much you can do. One thing you can start with is to sit in your car while the engine is running. You progress from there. Maybe the next day, you can begin to back out of your driveway onto the road and then back in.
3. Counter Negative Thoughts with Positive Affirmations
Anxious thoughts and worrying about what could go wrong are twins. They always come together. To keep them at bay, try countering them with positive affirmations.
You can do this by writing or by saying things out loud. You can do a simple statement like, “I can drive comfortably. I enjoy being behind the wheel, especially when there is music and I have my friends with me.” Say this before you sleep or right after you wake up.
It might be funny to do, but don’t underestimate the power of positive affirmations over your thoughts.
4. Practice Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation exercises help put your mind at ease and back in the present. When you feel like the nerves and the worries are starting to kick in, here is what you can do:
- Deep Breathing: Inhale through your nose. Hold your breath for ten seconds. Then, exhale as slowly as you can through your mouth.
- Guided Imagery: Use cues like music or words to evoke in your mind-calming and positive images. This will help push away negative thoughts.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation: You tighten and relax muscles groups in your body one at a time.
Your willingness to overcome your anxiety is the main factor in your success. Your therapist is only there to help and guide you. You can do it.