If you have developed a fear of driving, then you are certainly not alone. Our roads are becoming busier and other drivers seem to be less patient and less forgiving of others. This, amongst a host of other conditions, can lead an already nervous driver to become fearful of going out on the roads. Hypnotherapy for driving anxiety can be a very effective way to help you overcome your fear of driving and give you back the confidence to get back behind the wheel.

Perhaps you were a confident driver and your anxiety is related to a specific driving experience. Your fear might be related to a  bad accident that you were involved in. It may be that you are experiencing an emotional irrational reaction each time you think about driving. In this instance, you have developed a driving phobia. A series of hypnosis sessions can help you to once again feel relaxed behind the wheel.

Hypnotherapy for anxiety can be used to quickly and safely remove your driving phobia. This can allow you to enjoy the freedom that driving with confidence brings.

You can watch a client interview here, where you can see how the online method I used transformed Dee’s life. Hypnotherapy changed her from being a person who previously needed to use medication to board a plane into one who was calmed and relaxed when travelling. In this instance, it was related to a fear of flying but exactly the same method is used to remove the fear of driving, leaving you with the ability to be calmed and relaxed behind the wheel.

What is anxiety?

A woman leaning on steering wheel with driving anxiety

Anxiety is a survival response that has been with us as a species throughout our evolution. Whenever you feel under threat you will unconsciously initiate your fear response. When you feel anxious your body will produce a variety of stress hormones. These will increase your breathing and heart rate and increase your focus.

This is often called your fight/ flight response as when initiated it will give you a greater chance to fight or run from danger. It was lifesaving hundreds of thousands of years ago when we needed to fight or run from wild animals. In our modern world, it can be an unwelcome hindrance to our enjoyment of life.

If you were running from a sabre-toothed tiger, then at least your stress response would have been beneficial. If your stress response is initiated because you have to drive to a meeting on the other side of the country using motorways, then it’s very detrimental.

You have no use for the stress hormones and no way of using them up. You will then probably just feel jittery and on edge, finding it difficult to focus your thoughts on anything else other than your fear of driving.

Why have you created driving anxiety?

There can be a number of different reasons why driving is now causing you to be anxious which will be very individual to you. Your anxiety lies in the emotional primitive part of your brain. This part of the brain has developed over millions of years. Anxiety usually builds up over time. There doesn’t need to have been one specific event to create anxiety.

When humans are stressed or anxious we think from our primitive brain. Unfortunately, this part of your brain can only think within 3 different parameters; anxiety, depression or anger or a combination of all 3.

The primitive brain – Your security guard

a child dressing up as a security guard

Your primitive brain is a very negative brain. It will always see things from the worst possible perspective. It’s essentially looking out to protect you. It’s one of the reasons why we thrived as a species. When our ancestors saw a sabre-toothed tiger, they didn’t think whether or not it was hungry. They just reacted immediately to help their survival chances.

In fact, rational thought is not possible when your stress response has been activated. That part of your brain is shut down to focus on your survival.

Our primitive brain very often gets things wrong though. It is said to have the emotional intelligence and rationale of a 4 to 5-year-old child. If you begin to think about driving in a negative way, perhaps you had a near miss on the way to work, then it can start to enter your thought processes more often.

Your primitive brain can then register driving as a threat. In its misguided attempt to keep you safe, the thought or act of driving can now initiate your stress response.

Following the same path

A pathway through dry vegetation

Your primitive brain cannot be innovative. Once it has been established that driving is a threat then you will react in the same way. You would like to think that you are able to use reasoning to control your stress response. You may have driven the same route hundreds of times before with no issues.

If your primitive brain has now recognised driving as a threat, then unfortunately it can’t be reasoned with. The part of your brain responsible for logical thought is shut down. The emotional part which is looking to help you survive takes control.

It doesn’t need to have been a particular event that is the cause of your driving anxiety. If you were not a particularly confident driver, then it’s very easy for negative thoughts around driving to shape your thinking. Anxiety can be gradually built over a period of weeks or months.

Anxiety is created when you think negatively or worry about a particular event. The more you worry about the event then the more anxiety you create. You can then start to catastrophize. The small initial thought snowballs into a completely negative way of thinking surrounding driving.

You are what you think

Most of us are very familiar with the saying ‘you are what you eat’ but a similar adage ‘you are what you think’ is also very true. Your brain has an amazing ability to change and develop. This process is referred to as neuroplasticity. The way you think shapes your character and behaviour. It shapes who you are.

You will unconsciously react in a certain way depending on your previous thought processes around an event.  So if you think negatively about driving, you will build up neural pathways in your brain that will view driving as something to be fearful of.

Neuroplasticity – Your brain’s developing pathways

A picture of the brain showing new pathways represented by light bulbs

Imagine yourself at the edge of a meadow. It’s completely unspoilt as no one has been there before. You decide that you want to cross the meadow, so you start to walk across the untouched grass. When you get to the other side you notice that you have started to create a little path. Most of the grass remains upright but you can look back and see some grass has been flattened along your route.

You decide to walk backtracing your path and so trample down a bit more grass. You quite enjoyed today’s walk, so you decide to take a daily walk across the meadow, always following this same path. Eventually, as the weeks go by you notice that the grass is no longer growing and you can see bare earth. You’ve created a newly established pathway.

When you first made the journey it was a conscious decision to walk down the same path. With time and repetition, it became an unconscious decision. You got to the edge of the meadow and without thinking, you followed the same path. And so it is when you build up neural pathways in your brain. Repetition builds up these pathways in your brain. This means that you will have the same reaction when you think about driving.

Can hypnotherapy help with driving anxiety?

Woman driving happily after having used hypnotherapy for driving anxiety

Solution-focused hypnotherapy uses a combination of psychotherapy and hypnosis to help you to achieve freedom from your anxiety around driving. It is very outcome-focused. There is no need for you to visit your past and try to analyse when or why your anxiety started. Our focus is on how you want to feel, think and act in the future.

If we go back to the metaphor of the meadow, what solution-focused hypnotherapy for driving anxiety allows you to do is to start to build a new pathway. Instead of always unconsciously following the same path you now start to build a new path. With time this new path becomes the established way of thinking and the old unused path becomes obsolete.

In your brain, you have built up new connections and neural pathways which allow you to think positively about driving. When you think positively then no anxiety is created.

In addition, over a period of just a few weeks, solution-focused hypnotherapy helps to reduce general stress and anxiety levels and increase levels of confidence. By doing so you enable yourself to think from the more intellectual parts of your brain. This leaves your primitive brain to do its intended job of looking out for life-threatening situations.

The intellectual part of your brain is under no illusion that driving is a part of your life that can bring benefit and enjoyment.

What is hypnosis?

You will probably have heard of both the terms hypnosis and trance. They can really be thought of as being interchangeable, as they both describe a time when you experience a shift in your conscious awareness. It’s often described as being in a daydream. So when you gaze out of the window you have gone into trance. It’s thought that we go into trance roughly every 6 to 7 minutes throughout our waking hours.

You may recall a time when you’ve been in conversation with a friend and tried to remember the name of a film or book. No matter how hard you try when you are consciously thinking about it you can’t recall the name. It’s only later at home when you are daydreaming that the name pops into your head.

During the daydreaming state, your conscious and unconscious minds have worked together to give you the answer you were looking for. Hypnosis is a great problem-solving state that we naturally go into many times during our day.

How does driving hypnosis for anxiety work?

Hypnosis for driving anxiety

During the light trance state used in solution-focused hypnotherapy, your brain is able to not only build new positive pathways but also to take the negative emotional edge of older memories. By mimicking our REM state, hypnosis helps you to relieve stress. It allows you to take control over your thoughts and think with logic and reason.

It also completely shuts off your supply of noradrenaline, one of your body’s main stress hormones. You, therefore, come back to full consciousness feeling calm and relaxed.

During hypnosis, our brain waves alter. When we are wake and especially if we are anxious our beta waves are predominant. However, when we are in a relaxed trance state this activity lessens. This allows our calming delta waves to relax us. Our alpha and theta waves then become more influential which enables us to visualise and then come up with solutions to our problems.

Just like we do when we are in our natural REM dream state.  It’s no coincidence that most languages in the world have a version of our ‘sleep on it’ to describe the amazing ability of our dream state to solve our problems.

Solution-focused hypnotherapy for driving anxiety – phobias

A phobia can be described as an extreme, overwhelming or debilitating fear of an object, place, situation or feeling. When we experience a phobia, it can trigger an overwhelming physical and emotional response instantly engaging our fight/flight/freeze mode.

There are common phobias such as the fear of driving, fear of flying, dentists or confined spaces and less common ones such as lollipop sticks, buttons and zips. They can all initiate a stress response. When the brain recognises the object or situation then stress hormones are instantly produced. This increases both breathing and heart rate which enables you to run as fast as you can away from the perceived danger.

Sometimes if the fear is particularly strong you can lose the ability to run and instead you find yourself frozen with fear.

How phobias develop

Phobias can often develop in childhood. As a child, if you noticed the negative reaction of a parent to driving, then you learnt that driving was something to be frightened of. Your brain linked fear to driving and then built up neural pathways inside your own brain to help protect you. As your brain now associates driving with distress, whenever you think about driving or getting behind the wheel you initiate your stress response.

It’s also possible to develop a phobia of driving if you have been involved in or witnessed an accident. Much like the example above your brain now associates fear with driving.

In both instances, a phobic template has been lodged in your brain. Thankfully using hypnotherapy for driving anxiety can quickly and safely remove this fear template and reframe future thoughts so that all negative associations disappear.

Online hypnotherapy

Online Hypnotherapy

One of the major benefits of Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is that it can be carried out via Zoom. So no matter where you are reading this blog from, using the internet means that I am able to use hypnotherapy to help you achieve freedom from your driving anxiety. As your therapy will take place in your home it may actually be more beneficial.

Being able to relax in a familiar environment may make it easier for you to enter a naturally relaxed trance state more quickly, making the therapy more effective than if you went to an unfamiliar therapy room.

If you would like to find out more about the benefits of online hypnotherapy, please use this link.

How do I find out more about using hypnotherapy for driving anxiety?

If you would like to find out more about how together we can use hypnosis for driving anxiety to allow you to drive with confidence, then please get in touch for your free initial consultation.

Author: Ian Murton HPD DSFH AfSFH Reg NCH Reg CNHC Reg is an award-winning Solution Focused Hypnotherapist running sessions via Zoom from his home on the Bedfordshire/ Hertfordshire border

Perhaps you might be interested in reading some of my other blogs

Case Study: How Solution Focused Hypnotherapy Calms Anxiety

The Amazing Benefits of Hypnotherapy 

Anxiety and Insomnia: How Hypnotherapy Helps?

 

 

 

Anxiety UK Approved Therapist
REST registered tutor
Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council Logo