Experiencing anxiety while driving is more common than one might think. If you experience this, there are definitely ways to deal with it so that driving can be a stress free, and safe practice.
Here are some simple and effective steps for how to cope with anxiety while driving.
1. Calm your heart rate. When one experiences anxiety, their hear rate can increase and can lead to a feeling of urgency and panic. The key is to calm your heart rate and bring it down to a more steady state. You can do this simply by focusing on your breathing. More specifically, deep breathing. This has been shown to not only calm nerves, but stabilize your heart rate to a more manageable state.
2. Audio books, music, or sing along. Anything audio can greatly help for how to cope with anxiety while driving. The audio can be books on tape, music mp3’s or cd’s, and a twist on this can simply be singing your favorite song while driving. Now your audio choice should most definitely be in the positive vein. You don’t want to listen to depressing music, or an audio book which is negative in nature. You also don’t want to sing a challenging song that may frustrate you. They key is using the audio option in an uplifting, easy listening manner to sooth any nerves that may surface while driving, and lead to the anxiety which you are trying to avoid.
3. Drive with passengers. This can include having people carpool with you, or simply bringing a friend along for the ride. This will place focus on your passengers, and take focus away from anxiety that you would normally feel when driving alone.This can also have a confidence building effect as well. The more you drive in an anxiety free manner, the more confident you become and this will translate over towards driving alone, leading to more anxiety free journeys.
4. Focus on pleasure. Remember, driving should ultimately be a pleasurable experience. If you have access to pleasant country roads or short scenic drives, these can be a great way for experiencing relaxation while behind the wheel. Make the trips short and gradually build up to longer distances. Just doing a short 5 to 10 minute jaunt can have huge benefits. Think of it as building up your confidence in short bursts. Eventually you can increase to 10-20 minute drives. And don’t get discouraged if you feel the need to pull over even on short jaunts. Just relax, take some deep breaths and resume your drive when you feel yourself centered.