Driving anxiety is feeling hesitant to drive or when anxiety is always present when driving. This anxiety can be a fear or a full-blown phobia, but it is usually irrational. Avoiding driving can be difficult if you live in an area where there isn’t good public transportation. The good news is that driving anxiety is common and can be conquered. Here are some tips for helping yourself overcome adult driving anxiety.
1. Keep Driving
For many who experience anxiety while driving, it only gets worse the longer you avoid it. That is true for all fears, phobias, and anxieties. The best thing to do is start slow and go easy on yourself. Be patient and stick to close locations. Avoid the highway and drive in the daytime so you can ease into driving when feeling anxious. If you are experiencing driving anxiety because of an accident, the sooner you start driving afterward, the better you fare in the long run with keeping anxiety under control.
2. Bring Someone You Trust
A great way to combat the fear of driving is to have someone ride in the passenger seat who you trust. It can be a friend, family member, or a driving instructor. Having someone there to listen or help talk you through the anxiety can relieve a lot of the stress involved. Even if they just make some small talk, it can help get your mind off your fears and just focus on the driving.
3. Take a Driver’s Course
If you have never gotten your driver's license and would like to as an adult, enroll in a course of driving lessons for adults
. If you already have your license and are feeling a lot of anxiety, it can be helpful to re-enroll in a driver’s course to help refresh your skills and increase your confidence. These classes also give you an opportunity to practice with an instructor, which can bring some peace of mind.
4. Make the Car Peaceful
External factors like sounds and smells can contribute to increased stress while driving, especially if you are already feeling stressed. To help soothe yourself and create a peaceful environment, play soothing music while you drive and keep an air freshener in your car. Lavender is a common smell that relaxes, but you can pick any smell that helps you feel peaceful. Also, try to keep your car clean and organized for a clearer mind.
5. Manage Your Stress
One of the common underlying issues of driving with anxiety is feeling stress in other areas of your life. Try decreasing the other stressors in your life and incorporate general ways of dealing with stress by exercising, taking breaks, meditating, or whatever you find most helpful. During driving, it can be helpful to say positive affirmations out loud. Hearing these positive statements, such as “I can do this” and “I am a good driver” help boost confidence and fortify this state of mind.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Since there is no way to tell when anxiety will hit you, it is a great idea to keep multiple tactics up your sleeve to help deal with driving anxiety. That way, when it does start to set in, you are prepared and know that you can calm your thoughts. Keep driving and keep trying. Eventually you will learn how to cope and conquer the fear of driving.