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 phobia and ten steps on how to overcome this life-crippling fear.
Causes Of Driving Anxiety
- Experience: if you were involved in a car accident, witnessed one or experienced a “close call,” you may become scared of driving. 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 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 driving anxiety 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.
Symptoms Of Driving Anxiety
The following are signs that you may be anxious driving;
- Increased heart palpitation
- Sweaty palms
- Dizziness and shortness of breath
- Dry mouth
- In case of a phobia, someone may feel like they are going run insane or die.
9 Steps In Overcoming Driving Anxiety
- 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 trigger anxiety so avoid when you plan to drive. Drinking the previous night also causes sugar imbalances in your system.
- Minimize coffee intake: Coffee is known to trigger anxiety. Cut down on your consumption or stop it all altogether.
- Positive affirmations: Instead of thinking of you anxious about tomorrow’s drive, tell yourself you can handle it. Always get rid of the scary thoughts in your mind with positive self-talk.
- Desensitization: If you cannot even bring yourself to drive, start by 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. A driving instructor may be of much help.
- Face it: It becomes impossible to overcome fear until you choose to face it. Accept you have 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 it. So do not stop.
- Avoid anxious situations when driving: The last place to be when trying to solve your driving anxiety problem is a troubled environment. Avoid freeway driving, check the blind spots and signal when turning or changing lanes. Do not put yourself in situations that may make you a victim of road rage as this will only increase your problem
- Drive safe areas: Try driving in secure areas such as an empty parking lot, around the house or on roads that have less traffic. 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.
- 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. Brush off dangerous thoughts with positive affirmations. Pay attention to all signs of your anxiety and handle them until you are relaxed.
- Seek help: Overcoming driving anxiety by yourself can be impossible especially if your anxiety has developed into a phobia. In such extreme cases, the help of other people especially a therapist is necessary. The 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.
You Can Do It!
Stressing situations always cause anxiety, and driving can be very stressful. However, driving anxiety should not bar you from enjoying this luxury. The above steps will help you overcome your fear and regain your independence behind the wheels.