Feeling the car rumble beneath you as you turn the engine on, being in control of a magnificent automated beast, and getting the smell of tyres burn as you drift on curves…
…might give an adrenaline rush to many of you who enjoy every moment of your driving experience, but there are some of you who get the jitters even at the thought of driving to the supermarket.
There are ample reasons as to why you can experience anxiety while driving. You might have been in an accident or might have witnessed one, you might be fine driving in quiet areas but might panic while driving on the highway or through tunnels, or the thought of driving with passengers might cause you to get the heebie-jeebies.
Whatever the reason may be, you can overcome your anxiety if you buckle up and face your fears instead of running away from them.
How To Get Over Driving Anxiety
1. Identify Your Fears
To get over your anxiety, the first thing you should do is identify your fears. Sit down with a pen and a notepad and jot down all the things that get you worked up when it comes to driving.
You might have one major fear or might have many interrelated fears. The goal should be to acknowledge all the things that give you a sinking feeling in your gut, learn to deal with them, and eventually, strike them off your list until you become a road hog (or maybe just a good, fearless driver).
2. Set A Goal
You need to decide where you want to be when it comes to owning your fears. Do you want to get anxious every time you get behind the wheel or do you want to be confident and enjoy driving?
You can create short-term goals and place them along a timeline.
Reinforce yourself by indulging in a self-reward each time you achieve a goal. Taking it one step at a time will ensure that you achieve your main goal of getting over your anxiety without overwhelming yourself.
Practice makes perfect. Making sure you are in full control of your vehicle can help you reduce your fear of driving. If you are not confident enough to hit the main road, you can practise with the help of a simulator or can drive in a quiet area with fewer vehicles and people. You should aim at improving your driving skills each time you get behind the wheel until you are near perfect.
4. Ask For Help
There is no shame in asking for help. Having a good driver (think parent, friend, sibling) in the passenger seat when you take charge of the wheel can help you stay calm (not to mention the much needed confidence boost). Choosing someone you’re comfortable with is a bonus because it doesn’t leave scope for awkwardness or unnecessary silent suffering. Don’t hesitate to ask him or her questions about the controls. Disclose your fears, and deal with those fears together.
5. Try Relaxing
If panic creeps in as you drive, try some relaxation techniques. Being relaxed helps you take charge of your situation and mindfully so, which means not making any rash decisions.
Some relaxation techniques that can help are:
- Taking deep breaths
- Listening to soothing music
- Thinking of something that makes you happy and calm
- Leaving early so that you are not in rush
- Singing songs that calm you down
6. Stay Alert
If you’re afraid you’ll mess up (all that threat to self and public safety), being alert at all times will help avoid any mishaps. Staying focused will help shorten your reaction time—a trait of a good driver. Horses use blinders for similar reasons.
Staying focused and having a good track record will help reinstate faith in yourself. Avoid driving when you’re tired and, hence, less alert.
7. Try Aromatherapy
Certain aromas help calm your nerves while others make you more alert. Load essential oils into your car’s diffuser or dab a few drops on a piece of toilet paper and set it on the dashboard (the heat from the engine will help diffuse the oil).
Your choice of essential oil should be based on the expected duration of your drive. Calming oils are perfect for shorter drives. For longer drives, avoid using calming oils as they may make you less alert over an extended period of time. Instead, use aromas that help you stay alert and keep up your game.
Essential Oils That Help Reduce Anxiety (Shorter Drives)
Essential Oils That Help You Stay Alert (Longer Drives)
8. Eat Right
Sometimes, chemical imbalances in your brain can be a major contributing factor for anxiety. Luckily, you can eat your way out of it.
Some foods that help reduce your anxiety are:
- Dark Chocolate
- Fatty meats
- Greek yogurt
- Chamomile tea
9. Reinforce Yourself With Positive Affirmations
Affirmation is the practice of looking for silver linings and empowering yourself. Thinking negatively will put you in the wrong frame of mind, pushing you further away from your goal of fearlessly cruising down the road.
Write down a few statements about how good you are at driving, how you love to drive, and how confident you are behind the wheel. Make these statements personal and repeat them to yourself whenever you can. If you believe you can achieve something, you definitely will.
The Road To Success Is Not Too Long
The only thing that can ever stop you from becoming a confident driver is YOU. You can be as good as anyone else if you change your mindset. You should know that you are in control of your fears and not the other way around. A steady progression toward taking charge of your fears will ensure that, soon enough, you will be zooming past without even flinching (do remember to drive safe though).
|↑1||Migiwa Komiya, Takashi Takeuchi, Etsumori Harada. Lemon Oil Vapor Causes an Anti-Stress Effect Via Modulating The 5-HT And DA Activities in Mice. Behavioral Brain Research. 2006.|
|↑2||Mark Moss, Steven Hewitt, Lucy Moss, Keith Wesnes. Modulation of Cognitive Performance and Mood By Aromas of Peppermint and Ylang-Ylang. International Journal of Neuroscience. 2009.|
|↑3, ↑4, ↑5, ↑6||Setzer W. N. Essential Oils and Anxiolytic Aromatherapy. Natural Product Communications. 2009.|
|↑7, ↑8||Raudenbush, Bryan; Grayhem, Rebecca; Sears, Tom; Wilson, Ian. Effects of Peppermint and Cinnamon Odor Administration on Simulated Driving Alertness, Mood and Workload. North American Journal of Psychology . 2009.|
|↑9||Miguel A. Diego, et al.Aromatherapy Positively Affects Mood, Eeg Patterns of Alertness and Math Computations. International Journal Of Neuroscience. 2009.|
|↑10||S.B. Sartori, N. Whittle, A. Hetzenauer, N. Singewald. Magnesium Deficiency Induces Anxiety and HPA Axis Dysregulation: Modulation By Therapeutic Drug Treatment. Neuropharmacology. 2012|
|↑11||Marcos Roberto de Oliveira, Roberta Bristot Silvestrin, Tadeu Mello e Souza, José Cláudio Fonseca Moreira. Oxidative Stress in the Hippocampus, Anxiety-Like Behavior and Decreased Locomotory and Exploratory Activity of Adult Rats: Effects of Sub Acute Vitamin A Supplementation at Therapeutic Doses. NeuroToxicology. 2007.|
|↑12||M. Khassaf, et al. Effect of Vitamin C Supplements on Antioxidant Defence and Stress Proteins in Human Lymphocytes and Skeletal Muscle. The Journal Of Physiology. 2003.|
|↑13||Ingvar Bjelland, Grethe S. Tell, Stein E. Vollset, Svetlana Konstantinova, Per M. Ueland. Choline in Anxiety and Depression: The Hordaland Health Study. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2009.|
|↑14||Brian M. Ross. Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Anxiety Disorders. Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids. 2009.|