5 Ways to Tackle Driving Anxiety
By Milly Hailstone
Does the thought of driving instill fear in you? Get sweaty palms that moisten the steering wheel and that all too familiar feeling of butterflies in your stomach? The paranoia that you'll be involved in a crash. You even feel it when you're riding in the passenger seat when somebody else is driving. Yeah, that's driving anxiety.
When I lived in England I loved driving. At least, after I had got comfortable on the road. But, thinking back to my first driving lessons it was very scary, I had those sweaty palms, the feeling of dread knowing that I had to take a lesson that day - I used to feel physically sick.
Despite having 7 years of driving experience under my belt, recently I've had that feeling again. I now live in Europe where they drive on the other side of the road, and that's not even the main problem... It's the road rage - I swear everyone behind the wheel thinks they are playing Grand Theft Auto. Cars just randomly pull out in front of one another, just centimeters away from a crash, swerving all over the road and nobody is phased. The driving style here is just crazy compared to cutesy English roads and the common courtesy of 'letting somebody go' and the gentle wave that would accompany it. Here, it's every car for itself!
5 Ways to Tackle Driving Anxiety
Take a deep breath - you'll be a confident driver in no time!
1. Drive Alone
If you're still learning this is crappy tip, because you can't do that. But, if you've just passed your test or are adjusting to driving on the wrong side of the road like me, you need to drive alone.
It's the best way to build your confidence, and by doing it alone you'll prove to yourself that you can do it. Also, you won't have any annoying 'back seat drivers' as well call them in England. That means nobody to comment on your driving or shout at you.
The first time I drove on Lithuanian roads I was with my boyfriend and he didn't handle it well. He shouted, my anxiety worsened and I ended up having a full blown panic attack right there in the driving seat. After that my confidence was shot and I wouldn't try again for months.
To build your confidence, start by taking shorter drives just to get used to your car and the roads. If you're nervous of other drivers, copy my friend - she actually practices at around 1 am when few other drivers are on the road.
2. Learn Your Way Around
Driving in the city can be pretty overwhelming these days. The one-way system changes route every couple of years, and rush hour just feels intimidating - especially if you don't really know where you are going.
So, if possible learn your route first or use GPS. Instead of buying a Garmin or something, just get one of those hands-free phone holders that attach to your dashboard so you can use Google Maps on your smartphone.
I remember one time I was driving back from London and my satnav ran out of battery because the cigarette-lighter-that-is-also-a-charger was broken in my little old car. Of course, I took the wrong exit off the motorway and had driven 10 miles in the wrong direction. I kept driving along this dark country road (yes it was nighttime and I was alone), until I came across this shady looking pub and had to go inside and ask for directions. The lesson: make sure phone or satnav is fully charged before you take a long journey!
3. Use Essential Oils to Relax
Feeling sick and anxious? You can use Lavender Essential Oil to get rid of that horrid combo. Put some in a diffuser necklace, on a tissue or even get one of those car diffusers and breathe in that Lavender goodness for a few moments.
Lavender Essential Oil is also a cure for motion sickness if you've ever experienced that. You're welcome.
4. Make an Awesome Driving Playlist
It's true that every road trip needs an awesome playlist. So get on Spotify and make a list of feel good songs. Choose those songs that just make you feel confident, the ones that if you were in a club would make you get up and dance.
What artists make you feel like a bad ass when you play their music? Play that! Rap works for a lot of people, but metal works for me! ;)
Music makes such a difference to way the you feel, so a banging playlist can make you feel a lot more comfortable and happy.
5. Recognize that Fear is an Illusion
When you really think about it, there's nothing to be scared of. That fear you are feeling isn't real, even though it feels like it's controlling you. Once you start to realize that fear is an illusion you can start to release it's grip. By using these tips to slowly work through it, you will soon figure out that you CAN do it and there's nothing to be anxious about.
Positive Affirmations for Driving:
Repeat these a few times everyday and it will become true.
- I am a confident and safe driver.
- I know how to remain calm behind the wheel.
- My hands and legs always know what to do.
Good luck with driving! Is there anything else you use to help banish driving anxiety? I'd love to know about it, please leave a comment.