Driving is a complex activity that requires a high level of ability and coordination between one’s physical, visual and cognitive faculties. It is also the riskiest activity that most people engage in on a daily basis. For some people, driving can cause anxiety, the level of which varies from one person to another. Individuals may have generalised anxiety disorders however some people may become anxious specifically when driving or travelling in cars. This article discusses how you can deal with your driving related anxiety.
Possible causes of anxiety
– Stress: Driving can be a stressful task for many people, and stress may lead to anxiety
– Previous trauma related to driving or travelling in cars: Some people may have experienced traumatic situations, such as car accidents, causing them to become anxious.
– Panic attacks: People may experience panic attacks while driving, causing increased anxiety levels.
– Fear: Some people may become fearful of driving because they hear about accidents or other dangerous experiences on the roads. For example, someone may become fearful of travelling in a car if they hear about a serious accident nearby. This fear can possibly lead to anxiety.
How to manage driving related anxiety
Depending on the intensity of your anxiety and how much it is impacting on your everyday life, you may be able to make some adjustments to your situation to reduce your fear and anxiety. For those with severe anxiety, you may benefit from professional help, such as counselling and therapy with a psychologist. Below are some ways you might be able to better cope with your anxiety so that you can still drive safely.
-Undertake an occupational therapy drivng assessment to learn defensive driving strategies.
– Persist with driving – It is easier said than done, but it is often important to “face your fear” and continue to drive if you want to conquer it. It is true that practice makes perfect, and the more you hone your driving skills, the more confident you are likely to become with the task. You may even try practicing in quiet environments like quiet streets or empty car parks.
– Drive in situations and environments that you’re comfortable with – Stick to slow, non-busy roads if you can.
– Don’t make yourself more anxious by driving safely – If you already have anxiety related to driving, do not increase it by taking risks or driving dangerously.
– Mindfulness strategies – Mindfulness is a coping technique that involves you becoming more aware of the signs of pressure and stress. By practicing mindfulness, you might be able to better identify and regulate your emotions, thereby being able to manage each symptom and feel more at ease.
– Use relaxation or distraction techniques – Various breathing techniques or listening to music that helps you relax while driving may be helpful.
– Medications – Depending on the level and nature of your anxiety, you may already be taking medications that help reduce anxiety, such as antidepressant or anxiolytic medications. While you need to be very careful about taking medications before driving as you do not want to become sedated, it might be suitable for you to program your medication regime or take additional medications if you are planning to do a significant amount of driving. Make sure to consult your Doctor about your medications and driving.