As commonplace as driving is, and as absolutely normal as it may seem to most people, there are still those who feel intense discomfort when they are behind the wheel of a car.
Of course, when you think about it, this discomfort is nothing strange. After all, driving exposes you to a range of influences and emotions you might not have complete control over. It forces you to focus intently on your surroundings, to try and anticipate the actions of other participants in traffic and to resist the urge to go into full-on road rage at every minor irritation.
While there are those who have adverse reactions of such intensity that the safest option for them might really be to forego driving, most of the others, who only feel somewhat anxious or unsure might have a number of options at their disposal, meant to help them relax and enjoy the time they spend on the road. If you feel like you may belong to the second group, here are some of the things you might want to try.
Create a pleasant atmosphere
The first step towards overcoming feelings of panic or anxiousness when driving is to ensure that your car is an oasis of peace and comfort.
There are a number of ways to achieve this, from using soothing car scents and modifying the seats for greater comfort to choosing the appropriate music.
However, some people won’t care as much about the state of their car as they would about having the company of an experienced, trusted driver. This is usually the case with people who have just recently received their permit, and still haven’t had the chance to develop confidence in their abilities.
Even if you don’t feel any kind of unease, making sure that you are in the company of a more experienced driver while you are still technically learning to drive is a great way to ensure you are not developing bad habits or ignoring common and expected road etiquecy.
Try different instructors
If you are having trouble relaxing while driving, the last thing you need in the car is someone who is too intense, inpatient or short-tempered to create a comfortable atmosphere for you.
While some driving schools will give you a chance to choose your own instructor, you won’t have that many of them to choose from, and none of those available may fit the profile that you are after.
Luckily, the emergence of platforms like EzLicence driving lessons, allows you to sample a huge portion of available driving instructors, and find one that perfectly meets your needs. These platforms give you online access to hundreds of profiles of driving instructors, with detailed information on their experience, character, etc.
Naturally, you might not get it right on the first try, but once you actually find someone with the exact approach to instructions that you need, you won’t regret investing all the effort.
Try different relaxation techniques
If your anxiety attacks are localized, i.e. if you are not constantly anxious while driving, but seem to only be triggered by specific situations, you might benefit from learning about different stress relief methods.
This includes different techniques, the simplest one, while still reportedly effective is practicing abdominal breathing. Basically what it comes down to is taking deep breaths and feeling your lungs fill up with air and the expanding of your abdomen, only to slowly let out the air again. Repeat this a couple of times, and pay close attention to your state of mind to determine if the technique is of any help to you.
Some people reported that they can achieve the same soothing effect by practicing progressive muscle relaxation. This technique consists of tightening and relaxing different muscle groups in a rhythmic manner. The simplest way to start is by clenching your fists for 10 seconds, and then relaxing them for 20 seconds, all the while focused on the sensation this produces. If you can’t achieve the desired results by focusing your attention on your hands only, you can try the exercise with the rest of your muscle groups, like those in your neck, back and legs.
While some of the suggested methods may be sufficient for milder cases of driving anxiety, there are people out there who may not be able to escape the grip of this phobia without professional help.
If you find that your condition is this severe, but still don’t want to let it limit you, some people have had success with hypnosis or cognitive behavioral therapy, so don’t hesitate to consult your doctor and perhaps find a way to once and for all deal with this issue.