How to remove fear of driving and live the life you want

by | | Driving Anxiety

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The fear of driving can really hold you back

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

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

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

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

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

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

     Remove your fear of driving so you can live life to the full!

 

No one deserves to live with driving anxiety.

 

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.

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. This could be either as the driver or as a passenger.

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?

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.

What are the symptoms of driving anxiety?

Your fear of driving will mean that you initiate your fight/flight/ freeze response. When you do so your mind and body will react in several ways to try and keep you safe.

A man with driving anxiety behind the wheel

Likely, you will then experience some or all of the following symptoms; overthinking, a sudden intense feeling of fear, sweaty hands, stomach cramps, feeling sick, trouble regulating your breathing, feeling on edge, feeling hot or cold, tingly skin, a dry mouth, shortness of breath, or feeling faint.

What is a driving 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.

A driving phobia is a specific overwhelming fear that has been created as the result of experiencing an initial triggering event when either driving or being the passenger in a vehicle.

Why has my driving phobia developed?

Perhaps you were involved in a high-speed crash or witnessed an accident. It’s also possible that your phobia developed because your parents were anxious drivers. Regularly seeing them feel anxious and overwhelmed behind the wheel can lead your brain to associate motorway driving with anxiety.

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 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.

 

Experiencing a panic attack whilst driving

Panic button

A panic attack often occurs due to the cumulative build-up of stress. If you are already an unconfident or anxious driver, you are more likely to experience a panic attack while driving compared to those who are not.

A panic attack could have occurred at any point during your day, but because it happened while you were driving, your brain links the two events. This association can lead to the development of a phobia.

Panic attacks feel more intense and frightening when driving at high speeds because there appears to be no escape, so you are unable to fulfill your natural reaction to flee. You must also try to maintain control of your vehicle to avoid causing an accident, which can heighten the fear.

 

What are some of the most common triggers of driving anxiety?

Many of the most common driving anxiety triggers are related to motorway driving. This is usually due to the high speed of the travelling vehicles and the perceived heightened consequences that a crash may bring.

A woman thinking about questions to ask during her consultation

Many triggers are specific to motorway driving as the situations will rarely be encountered when driving on more minor roads. Common triggers include; joining or merging onto the motorway, driving at high speed, maintaining control at high speed, fear of causing an accident, having to change lanes and make complex maneuvers at speed, fear of missing exits and encounters with aggressive drivers.

The fear of driving 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.

 

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 get over my driving anxiety? – Self-help

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. Most self-help techniques are designed only to help lower the intensity of your anxiety, but will not actually be able to tackle the root cause of your fear of driving.

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

Using an anchor

An anchor is a way of associating a particular feeling with a particular action. Anchors can be visual, auditory or kinaesthetic. The most powerful anchors tend to be kinaesthetic as these are linked to touch and feelings.

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

To create a kinaesthetic anchor, sit in the driver’s seat and place your feet flat on the floor (obviously the vehicle should be stationary). Very loosely hold the steering wheel in your hand and close your eyes. In this position, you need to remember, or imagine, a time when you experienced the feeling of confidence when driving. Try to see the event from your own eyes then turn up the visuals associated with this memory, i.e turn up the colour and brightness.

Then in your mind turn up any sounds associated with this memory, i.e chatting, music or traffic noise.

Finally, try to turn up your feeling of confidence. When this feeling is at it’s highest then squeeze the steering wheel for a count of 15.

Repeat the whole exercise 5 times. If you have done this correctly then when you grip the steering wheel when driving you should now be feeling confidence as opposed to anxiety.

How can I overcome my fear of driving ?

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 remove your fear of driving using therapy

Several therapies may be able to help you to overcome your fear of driving. 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.

Can I remove my fear of driving using online hypnotherapy?

A woman using online hypnotherapy to help overcome her fear of flying

Yes, definitely. All of my success stories have been achieved using online hypnotherapy. I regularly run hypnotherapy sessions for people all around the world. Distance really is no object to you achieving your goal.

 

Thankfully online hypnotherapy means that you are not limited to only using your local hypnotherapist who might not be skilled in helping you overcome your driving anxiety.

You can find out anything you want to know about online hypnotherapy by using the included link.

 Removing your fear of driving is 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 – Live Better

You can stop your fear of driving holding you back just like others have!

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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!

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 . 

I’m Ian. I’d love to help you overcome your driving anxiety

Ian Murton
Ian and his sons in a bluebell wood

Here’s why I believe I’m the best person to help you.

#01 Reassurance

You can feel reassured in my ability knowing that all my Google reviews are 5 stars. I never let anyone down.

#02 Experience

You can feel confident knowing that I’ve helped hundreds of people overcome the obstacles in their minds.

#03 Friendly

You can relax knowing I’m just a normal friendly family man who will go above and beyond to help.

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Professional Accreditations

NLP Practitioner Academy
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!

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