Driving anxiety – symptoms and how to overcome it
Ever experienced a sudden change in your expression when the key is handed over to you? Feeling fearful when driving or when get chance to drive can be an anxiety disorder. People with driving anxiety gets very stressful just with the thought that they have to drive and they avoid situations to get behind the wheels. And, if they take the keys, people’s lives can be affected. If you lose control of your vehicle while driving, it can cause serious road accidents. And, if you avoid driving, it can make you isolated and homesick. People feel distressed in different driving situations. Whle some people while sitting on the passenger sit, some feel anxious while driving through a tunnel or a bridge or while driving during night. While this fear may vary from slight discomfort to intense apprehension, it should be treated in time. This fear can be normal. But, with common techniques it can be treated. Read along this article to know about driving anxiety, it’s symptoms and also different ways to overcome it.
What is driving anxiety?
Driving is one of the common things that can trigger anxiety all of a sudden. Driving anxiety can be classified as a type of phobia. People who have a fear of open spaces, crowds and roads can feel overwhelming to get behind the wheels. In phobia, a person tries to avoid a situation at any cost. A man with driving anxiety will try not to drive at any way or will try to drive only through the side roads. You will try to not take your vehicle to the main highway and even take longer routes to stop getting to highways just because of that fear. This nervousness can feel like controlling your life if your condition is severe. Your hands feel shaking and your back gets stiffed while you control the steering.
The fear that something negative will happen makes you nervous. This nervousness is caused due to many reasons. One significant reason is the fear of accidents. Maybe you have witnessed a major road accident or you may have lost a closed one due to a road accident. Being involved in a road accident also makes a person nervous. Even watching an accident of television can lead to nervousness. You may not trust your driving skills and find it difficult to navigate through heavy traffic. Having a family history of anxiety disorders might also make you worrying while driving.
Along with these reasons, Binocular Vision Dysfunction is a physical weakness in eyes causing driving anxiety. Our eyes when in good condition work in good sync and process the image seen by both to produce a final clear scene. But, people with a condition of BVD have weak eyes are that not is a condition to work as a team for producing one clear image. When the weakness gets more, it can lead to double vision. This make it difficult for people to see road, traffic signs and the other vehicles clearly. And, even a slight symptoms of BVD can prove quite noticeable while driving.
Symptoms of driving anxiety
Driving anxiety is a type of phobia where one has a certain fear and anxiety about any situation or thing and can influence their mental and physical health. This anxiety has short term as well as various long term effects. These are the common symptoms found in people who are experiencing driving anxiety :-
- Feeling quite stressful even with prospect of driving and you feel difficult to drive.
- You experience a physical discomfort like muscle tension that reduces your performance behind the wheels.
- Experiencing a panic related effect that causes a sudden increase in your anxiety levels which is very persistent and excessive.
- Feeling a strong desire to avoid getting behind the wheels or taking the keys just because of the fear lurking in your mind.
- Feeling nervous in crowded places
- Palms getting sweaty
- Rapid breathing and shortness of breath
- Irregular heartbeats
- Restlessness and fatigue
- Motion sickness
- Finding it difficult to process depth perception, equilibrium and balance needed to see clearly.
Apart from just short term effects, these symptoms may affect your ability to drive in long run making you experience muscle tension, rapid heartbeats, tiredness and other symptoms cumulatively.
How to overcome driving anxiety?
The symptoms of driving anxiety can affect a person’s quality of life apart from just making it difficult to drive. This anxiety can be a big hindrance in making your life interesting. But, the good news is that it can be treated by following some methods. Whether you feel nervous while driving due to a past experience, or it is due to the symptoms of Binocular Vision Dysfunction (BVD), these are some of the best possible ways that can be implemented to make driving a lot easier and comfortable :-
Be present while driving
One simple rule that applies to life as well as driving, be present at the moment. People with driving anxiety often thinks about the whole journey and imagine the most astonishing part of that ride whether it’s the bridge or a tunnel. But, what you need to know is to just focus on the road you’re driving on. Concentrate only on the road you’re driving through without worrying about the upcoming twists. While crossing tunnel, don’t think you have to cross the whole tunnel, just focus on the road ahead your car, keep driving and you will pass it. This takes time and practice but eventually you’ll become brave.
Relaxation always work for reducing the amount of stress and fear in your mind. It calms your mind down and eliminates any tension therein. If you are suffering from driving anxiety, you can also look after dome self care practices. There are many relaxation practices that can minimize stress. You can practice meditation, focusing on your breath and relax your mind, use your imagination to create calm and peaceful scenery improving relaxation or also try an autogenic training.
Consult a therapist
Taking help of a mental health specialist never gets wasted. As driving anxiety is one of severe mental conditions that affects your brain abilities to perform an action it is allays advisable to talk to a psychologist or psychotherapist. The therapist can effectively analyze the reason of your nervousness and can find all the symptoms of the anxiety inherent in you. The therapist will talk to you and study your behavior to give customized treatment plan for you. This plan can include timely medication, psychotherapy and support groups.
Get a virtual reality exposure therapy
One particular therapy that is proven to be very working in reducing stress about driving is the exposure therapy. Since a person with anxiety of driving feels stressed by even sitting on the driver or passenger seat, this therapy works to make the person confront his fear about driving. In a controlled environment, a virtual reality exposure therapy reduces anxiety levels in the mind of the driver. And, your body will be able to feel comfortable with the physic and mental sensations felt during such anxiety.
Attend a CBT session
A Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a successful way to build ways to cope with your fear and nervousness. With the help of a therapist, you come to know about your negative thinking and how this thought is creating fear and affecting your ability to drive. You will feel more safe and comfortable while driving by eliminating such negative thinking, fear and anxiety. A CBT session also includes finding healthy behavioural patterns like focusing on your breath and challenging your thoughts.
Driving is one of those skills that make life a lot more convenient. And, if there’s something that is bothering with this skill of yours and making you get discomfort while driving, it shouldn’t be left alone. A slight fear can become a serious anxiety disorder and it can affect your quality of life apart from just making it challenging for you to drive. No one wants to feel scatter and isolated and if an anxiety is making you nervous, it should be noticed and dealt accordingly. A road accident, a bad driving experience, family traits and BVD are some of the causes that make a person gets nervous while driving. However, as in the case of any anxiety disorder, the fear about anxiety can also be overcome. You can follow the above tips and you will be feel lot safer to hit the road again.