Driving anxiety is an unreasonable fear of driving. It is usually due to the fear of losing control on the road. It comes in different levels. Some people may refuse to drive while others can develop phobia altogether.

Driving anxiety, however, leads to no long-term illness. Even more, is behavior that is learned hence can easily be unlearned. Here are some basic facts about driving related phobia and nine steps on how to overcome this life-crippling anxiety while driving.Table of contents

Causes Of Driving Anxiety

  • Experience:if you were involved in a car accident, witnessed one, or experienced a “close call,” you may have fear of driving due to post-traumatic stress disorder. It is usually because your subconscious mind is being protective.
  • Low blood sugar:Anxiety is one of the signs of a hypoglycemic reaction. However, if the panic attack happens when you are driving, you may wrongfully associate the anxiety with driving itself. The causes of low blood sugar are starvation or eating a meal that is high in simple sugars. It is also common among people with a history of hypoglycemia or diabetes.
  • Avoidance:You heighten your panic attack issues with you choose to avoid driving altogether. The more you opt not to drive the harder it becomes to drive. Finally, it develops into a full-blown driving phobia.

anxious driver - panic attacks

Symptoms Of Driving Anxiety

The following are signs that you may experience anxiety while driving;

  • Increased heart palpitation
  • Sweaty palms
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness and shortness of breath
  • Dry mouth, although not always, can also be a sign of driving related anxiety
  • In case of a phobia, someone may feel like they are going to run insane or die.

Whatever anxiety symptoms you have, one thing is clear – you can overcome driving anxiety or avoid panic attacks in one of these 9 simple steps below:

positive affirmation for driving anxiety - psychotherapy

9 Steps In Overcoming Driving Anxiety

The following steps you can take while you are behind the wheels to help relieve your panic attack,

  1. Eat well:Food is good for your mood as well as controlling your sugar levels. Foods rich in simple sugars such as soft drinks, white bread, and pastries are most likely to driving trigger anxiety or panic attacks so avoid when you plan to drive. Drinking the previous night also causes sugar imbalances in your system.
  2. Minimize coffee intake:Coffee is known to trigger anxiety or panic attacks. Cut down on your consumption or stop it all altogether.
  3. Positive affirmations:Instead of thinking of you anxious about tomorrow’s drive, tell yourself you can handle it. Always get rid of the fear & scary thoughts in your mind with positive self-talk.
  4. Desensitization:If you cannot even bring yourself to drive, start with exposure therapy such as sitting in a parked car. From here, you can sit in the car with the engine running, and then do little driving stunts such as parking the car and driving on the back road. With such incremental exposure, soon enough you’ll gain enough confidence while behind the wheel and overcome driving anxiety. A driving instructor or family member may be of much help. Others may also find virtual reality exposure therapy as the best place to start to over this anxiety or panic disorder.
  5. Face it:It becomes impossible to overcome fear until you choose to face it. Accept you have driving anxiety but decide not to let it deter you from taking the wheels. If you can garner the courage to drive, do not stop driving. Avoiding driving only confirms your fears and strengthens them. So do not stop.
  6. Avoid anxious situations when driving:The last place to be when trying to solve your driving anxiety or panic attack problem is a troubling environment or anything that can distract your driving. Make sure your vehicle meets minimum safety driving standards. Avoid freeway driving, check the blind spots, and signal when turning or changing lanes. These things help in reducing anxiety. Do not put yourself in situations that may make you a victim of road rage as this will only increase your problem.
  7. Drive safe areas:Try driving in secure areas such as an empty parking lot, around the house, or on roads that have less traffic. It will overcome your fear. The more you drive around, the easier you will find to cope with the anxiety. As the tension subsidizes, you will start noticing that driving is boring. This is a sign you have improved.
  8. Control your emotions:You need to be able to control your feelings when you get anxious. Learn to calm down when you feel you have gripped the wheel too hard or is shaking. Staying calm, though a piece of fairly simple advice, is one of the effective relaxation techniques for dealing with driving anxiety and can also improve your reaction to driving emergencies. Brush off dangerous thoughts with positive affirmations. Pay attention to all signs of your anxiety and handle them until you are relaxed.
  9. Seek help:Overcoming driving anxiety or fear by yourself can be impossible especially if your anxiety has developed into a driving phobia. In such extreme cases, the help of other people especially a mental health provider is necessary. The mental health therapist will recognize the cause of your fear and develop a program that suits you.

Doctors may prescribe drugs to help you. Ensure you understand the side effects of these drugs and their use as some can be addictive while others can react dangerously with some food types or prescription drugs.

Anxiety should not Bar you From Enjoying this Luxury

Stressing situations always cause anxiety disorder, and driving can be very stressful. However, above steps will help you overcome your driving anxiety and regain your independence behind the wheel.



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  2. I think that’s a helpful call out about blood sugar! We jump into cars regardless of what we’ve eaten or how we feel because we have places to go…but it’s important to be mindful that we’re not setting ourselves up for a bad experience. Great tips for dealing with driving anxiety!

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