How to Manage Driving Anxiety
Driving anxiety can happen if you have been driving for years or a new driver. Driving anxiety, like mental illness, does not discriminate. Driving anxiety is much more common than you think, and you must remember that you are not alone. Driving anxiety is new to me. I used to drive all the time, didn’t’ matter the time. I drove when I felt anxious, it used to be calming. For myself, driving anxiety comes when I’m driving to a place I’ve never been, driving on highways, or in traffic. My hands literally grip the steering wheel so much that my hands are in pain afterward. I have learned tricks to help ease my drive, and I hope you find some may help you as well.
Have Patience with Yourself
Have patience. Your driving anxiety won’t last forever. This is only temporary. You are your own worst enemy, you need to have patience with yourself. It is frustrating to not be able to do what millions of others can do. But remember, you’re not alone. Other people also suffer from driving anxiety, too. Be kind and patient with yourself. You can get through this.
Get to the Root of your Driving Anxiety
There are many reasons why you may experience anxiety while driving. General anxiety could be the cause or Vehophobia, the fear of driving. Other reasons may include past negative or traumatic experiences, driving alone, or driving to an unknown location. Fear of losing control or getting lost are also included in reasons for driving anxiety. When you know what is causing your fear, you have better control of how to manage it.
Plan Your Route
When I am going to an unknown place, before the trip, I plan it. I first, plug the address into my GPS to mentally picture which way I am going. Sometimes the GPS will automatically give me the shortest or quickest route which isn’t always the route I choose. That is something to keep in mind. Look at the alternative routes, to see if there is one that you’re more familiar with or would prefer to go. When looking at what time I need to leave, I always give myself 15 to 20 minutes extra time. This time allows if there is additional traffic or if I need to pull over for some reason. By planning your route and time to leave, you are in greater control of your driving experience.
Have Someone in The Car with You
This tip only helps for those who aren’t afraid of driving with others. If you are afraid of driving alone, try having someone in the care with you who helps calm you. Having someone with you can also help by having a friendly conversation with them. Having a conversation with someone can help by not concentrating on the actual driving anxiety. Again, this tip is not for everyone. For example, for myself, having someone else in the car makes me more anxious, so I do the opposite. I drive alone.
By driving often, you expose yourself to different driving situations. The more you expose yourself, the more confident you’ll be in your ability to drive. You can do this with a familiar route to help you drive in general. You can also do this with an unfamiliar route to become more familiar with a route before you have to drive it. If you only drive when you must, your driving anxiety will be harder to manage.
Talk to Someone About Your Driving Anxiety
It can be beneficial by talking to a licensed professional about your driving anxiety. Not only can that help you manage your driving anxiety they may be able to prescribe you medication for it. Talking to someone can also help you get to the root of your driving anxiety if you have not been able to pinpoint it.
Don’t Drink Caffeine Before Driving
Caffeine can trigger anxiety. You are already anxious about driving, and caffeine will only make it worse. Caffeine can increase your anxiety or cause tremors, making it harder to drive. Water is always the best alternative to caffeine and a much healthier option!
Make Your Car Comfortable
If you’re sitting in an uncomfortable, smelly care, you most likely won’t become calm when driving. You want to drive with a clean, nice smelling environment in your car. Clutter and gross smells will only add to your anxiety. I personally use those fun shaped bead wax car fragrances. They last forever and look great! Be sure to clean out your car every couple of months to keep it nice and tidy!
Make A Calming Playlist
I have a Spotify playlist, appropriately titled, Chels. It has all my favorite songs that I play whenever I’m feeling anxious. There’s such a variety of songs that I’m almost always in a better mood after listening to it. I set it to shuffle whenever I get in the car and begin to drive. If music makes your anxiety worse, the alternative is to drive in silence.
Have A “Just in Case” Plan
Just in case you can’t finish driving to your destination, have a plan. Park your car in a well-populated, well lit, no tow zone area. Call a rideshare, friend, or family member to get you to your destination or back home. Come back and get your care at a convenient, less anxious time (this is why it is important that you park in a now tow zone!)
Next time you drive, try following these little tricks. Remember, driving anxiety isn’t something that’ll go away overnight, it is something that you need to tackle gradually. Also please remember, you’re not alone! I’d love to know if they helped you and how you’re doing, so please feel free to contact me. Also, if you have any tricks of your own, leave a comment below!