Driving anxiety is runing my life – Ways to help overcome it

by | | Driving Anxiety

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Driving anxiety can significantly impact your life 

It stops you from being spontaneous and just getting in your car and driving.  It’s inconvienent.

It’s so time-consuming. You either need to find alternative travel or use the back roads.  It’s annoying.

It knocks your confidence and you start to believe that things will never get better.  It’s demoralising.

You either need to cancel plans, not accept invitations, or rely on others to drive. It’s frustrating.

It stops you from applying for new working opportunities outside of your local area.  It’s restrictive.

You have to make up excuses as to why you can’t give friends or colleagues lifts. It’s embarrassing.

    No one should have to live with driving anxiety. You deserve the freedom and feeling that being a confident driver brings.

Here’s what being a confident driver may look like for you

Enjoying impromptu trips with colleagues, family or friends. 

Visiting new places without the restrcition public transport brings.

Driving your family to days out without having to plan the route.

Feeling calm, relaxed and at peace no matter what route you drive.

Driving along the motorway to start your new job.

No longer relying on others, having a sense of independence . 

Driving anxiety is ruining my life

Driving anxiety is ruining my life, what is driving anxiety?

Like many types of anxiety, crafting a specific definition for driving anxiety is quite difficult as it affects different people in different ways. For some people, their driving anxiety may stop them from driving on busy roads, whereas for others it may stop them from getting behind the wheel altogether.

Some may find they can drive on all types of roads during the day, but they don’t have the confidence to drive at night. Others feel confident to drive on all roads in all conditions as long as there are no tunnels to go through or bridges to cross.

In a broad sense driving anxiety could be described as a fear or irrational response that happens when travelling or even thinking about travelling in a vehicle.

Driving anxiety is very common, a report commissioned by the insurance group Aviva concluded that more than a third of motorists feel anxious behind the wheel, with 43% of that group stating that nerves affected their ability to drive. That means that in roughly 1 in 7 of the people surveyed anxiety negatively affected their ability to drive.

What are the different types of driving anxiety?

As mentioned previously driving anxiety can affect people in several different ways ranging from a complete inability to drive to being able to drive anywhere except a specific stretch of road. The cause of driving anxiety is very often not linked to driving itself.

If you have a fear of heights, for example, then this can cause anxiety when driving on motorways as you may at some point need to drive over a bridge.  Having a fear of enclosed spaces may also make driving on major roads difficult as you might need to drive through a tunnel on your journey.

Generally, people will develop driving anxiety as a result of one of the reasons below:

A lorry travelling through a tunnel
  • A fear of enclosed spaces (claustrophobia).
  • A fear of wide open spaces (agoraphobia).
  • A fear of heights (acropobia).
  • A fear of getting lost (mazeophobia).
  • A fear of losing or not being in control often makes drivers and passengers anxious.
  • A driving phobia caused by a specific incident (amaxophobia).
  • Previous negative driving experiences.

Do I have driving anxiety or a driving phobia?

Driving anxiety is an umbrella term that refers to any type of anxiety that is a direct result of driving or being a passenger, which can include a phobia. A phobia usually develops due to one specific triggering event whereas driving anxiety itself tends to build up gradually over time.

A woman thinking

This eventually leads to a lack of confidence and overthinking when behind the wheel. The UK roads seem to have become busier and busier and other drivers seem to be less patient and forgiving of others. Perhaps you have never been a particularly confident driver, but a series of events has now shattered your confidence behind the wheel meaning you now are an anxious driver.

What is a phobia?

A phobia can be thought of as a distinct type of driving anxiety. It tends to happen as the result of a specific incident. A phobia can be described as an extreme, irrational, overwhelming, or debilitating fear of an object, place, situation, or feeling.

How do I know if I have a driving phobia?

Determining if you have a phobia can sometimes be unclear, as some individuals may not perceive their fears as severe enough to qualify as a phobia. Rather than solely associating a phobia with extreme terror, it’s often more useful to think of it as an irrational fear.

One way to gauge whether your fear aligns with a phobia is by comparing your feelings to those of your peers. If your family and friends don’t share the same level of apprehension towards the issue, it may suggest that your fear is disproportionate or irrational.

However, the label of having a phobia isn’t the critical factor. What truly matters is whether your fear impedes your ability to live the life you want.

Why has my driving phobia developed?

Perhaps you were involved in a crash or witnessed an accident, or maybe you had a panic attack when driving. You could have experienced the panic attack at a different part of your day, but because it happened when you were driving, your brain will now link the two things together and as a result, a driving phobia has developed.

A image representng the brain as a filing cabinet

When awake, our brains constantly take in information through our senses. You can think of these waking hours as your brain being in record mode. When we sleep our brains enter playback mode.

 

When you’re dreaming, your brain transfers memories from the primitive, emotional mind to the intellectual, logical part. If during this process it encounters an event that it believes to be threatening, the memory will be stored. These stored files will then help your brain to predict how to react in the future. In reality, this means that each time you drive or think about driving, your brain will activate your fight/ flight/ freeze response and you’ll experience anxiety.

What are the symptoms of driving anxiety?

When you experience driving anxiety your mind and body will react in a number of ways. This will mean that you may experience some the following symptoms;  overthinking, sweaty hands, stomach cramps, trouble regulating your breathing, feeling on edge, feeling hot or cold, tingly skin, a dry mouth, shortness of breath, or feeling faint.

A man with driving anxiety behind the wheel

Driving anxiety is ruining my life, why can’t I control it?

A frustrated woman

When your driving anxiety is stopping you from doing the things you’d like to, it can be hard to imagine that your brain is actually trying to help.

As illogical as it may seem, your brain is trying to protect you. It has viewed driving as a threat and so is now doing all it can to keep you safe from it by activating your natural stress response.

 

How long does driving anxiety last?

The duration of your driving anxiety largely depends on its type and severity. If you’ve experienced a significant triggering event that caused intense anxiety, your driving anxiety will likely stay with you without effective intervention.

Post it notes about stressful topics

The level of stress you encounter in your daily life can also influence the duration of your driving anxiety. If you regularly face high levels of stress, your driving anxiety is likely to persist for a longer time and may worsen.

Does driving anxiety go away on it’s own?

A woman thinking about questions to ask during her consultation

Unfortunately, if your driving anxiety is severe it’s unlikely to disappear on its own accord. Your driving anxiety is serving a purpose. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t reduce its impact or that you have to live with it permanently.

 

There are several ways that you can help to lower its negative effects and there is help available to you to enable you to overcome it permanently.

How can I manage my driving anxiety?

If you find yourself becoming anxious when you are driving there are several self-help techniques that you can use to try and stop your level of anxiety from increasing.

Rectangular breathing

Using particular breathing patterns can help you reduce the severity of your symptoms so you can feel calmer and more in control.

A man using a rectangular breathing technique to remain calm when driving

Rectangular breathing simply involves breathing out for longer than you breathe in. Several different ratios could be adopted but it’s probably easier if you just remember to breathe out for twice as long as you breathe in.

For example, you could breathe in through your NOSE for a count of 4 and then breathe out calmly through your MOUTH for a count of 8. Continue to do this for around 2 to 3 minutes or until you feel calmer.

5-4-3-2-1

This is an exercise that can help you to keep calm when driving. It can help you to feel grounded and to keep your mind occupied so it doesn’t focus on your driving anxiety. You can use it at any time but it can work well when you start to feel anxiety creeping up on you

  • Take 2 deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth (following the rectangular breathing pattern works well.
  • Say out loud 5 things around you that you can see (i.e fields, other cars, trees)
  • Take 2 deep breaths.
  • Say out loud 5 things you can hear (traffic, birds, tyres on the road)
  • Take 2 deep breaths
  • Say out loud 5 things you can feel (steering wheel, bum on the seat, feet on the pedals)
  • Take 2 deep breaths

Then carry on doing the same for 4,3,2 then 1 thing. It is a great exercise to help take your mental focus away from your driving anxiety.

Driving anxiety is ruining my life, when is it time to look for help?

Many people manage to live with their driving anxiety by implementing coping strategies. You might be handling your driving anxiety by choosing familiar routes or travelling on major roads during less busy times.

For many people, the need to find a more permanent solution only comes when they realise the debilitating effect their driving anxiety is having on their lives. Perhaps it is stopping you from applying for a dream job, or maybe you want to move to a different part of the country but you know you won’t feel confident driving in a new location.

Whatever your reasons for feeling that driving anxiety is ruining your life there is help available for you.

How to permanently get over your driving anxiety

Several therapies may be able to help you to overcome your driving anxiety. Hypnotherapy is a type of therapy that uses the natural state of hypnosis to bring about positive change within your subconscious mind. If you would like to find out more information on how I can help you take control of your driving anxiety, please use the following link. Hypnotherapy for driving anxiety.

A woman using hypnosis for driving anxiety

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is also a type of therapy that can act on your subconscious mind to bring about change. It can be used alongside hypnotherapy and is particularly effective in helping to overcome driving phobias.

 Getting from where you are now to being a confident driver is really simple. Here’s how we achieve it;

#01 Consultation

You’ll learn and fully understand why you’ve been suffering from driving anxiety and be given the tools necessary to overcome it.

#02 Change

We meet either online or face-to-face and use a variety of techniques to get you feeling back in control.

image representing a happy confident driver

#03 Success

No more driving anxiety. You’ve completely changed your way of thinking enabling you to be a calm, confident driver.

Think Better – Feel Better – Drive Better

Driving anxiety success stories!

It’s important to remember that your driving anxiety is located in your subconscious mind. Most techniques to try and build up your confidence such as positive self-talk or taking more driving lessons usually fail because these try to affect change in your intellectual, conscious mind.

Your driving anxiety isn’t there. If it was then they would work and you wouldn’t be here now!

Hypnotherapy and NLP enable your subconscious mind to be positively influenced so that it no longer views driving as a threat. By combining these therapies I enable my clients to achieve a complete mindset shift. I’ve shared some of their amazing success stories below.

 

5 star google review from Chris about driving anxiety
A testimonal from a client who I helped to over come driving anxiety by using hypnotherapy
5 star Google Review
Email from a clent who no longer has driving anxiety
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Get to live the life you want

Clam Drive Hypnotherapy Package

Are you thinking “Hypnotherapy won’t work for me” – Most of these clients initially thought that too, now they’re living life free from their problem!

How will your life be different without driving anxiety holding you back?

A family happy and smiling outside a car
A business man driving his car with no driving anxiety
A group of friends by a campervan
a mother confidently driving her children about

When you’re ready please reach out as I’d love to help you overcome your driving anxiety

I’m Ian a qualified hypnotherapist and a member of several awarding bodies which means I have to adhere to strict codes of conduct.

Therapy is equally effective whether it’s online via Zoom or face-to-face. Using an online approach means that I can use hypnotherapy alongside other techniques to enable you to overcome your driving anxiety no matter your location.

However, if you live within travelling distance of Fairfield, Hitchin, Hertfordshire you also have the option to come to my therapy room for face-to-face sessions.

 

Professional Accreditations

Anxiety UK Approved Therapist
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I’m just a down-to-earth person who will pull out all the stops to get my client results.

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Driving anxiety doesn’t have to ruin your life. There is a simple solution available to you now!

If you’d like to discover how we can help you to become a calm, confident driver, then please feel free to call me on 07855 759533.

If you are ready to book an initial consultation please use the button below.

 

Think Better – Feel Better – Drive Better

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