Street Survival - Advanced Defensive Driving

THINKING > ANXIETY

Anxiety

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'Driving Anxiety' can be a real challenge and family or friends telling you to simply "get over it" don't understand how debilitating this can be. Empathy and patience would be much more appreciated and encouraging.

Good news is that this is a condition that you have control over, and, to find the best remedy that will work for YOU.

There is a term called "Systematic Desensitization," which basically means being exposed to the fear gradually and over time overcoming, or at least reducing, that anxiety or phobia.

This free online Advanced Defensive Driving course will help in this regard as you can go through it from the comfort and safety of your home, in your own time, and at your own pace.

The aim of the course is to prepare oneself mentally to be able to read traffic scenarios and prepare safe responses BEFORE a situation arises. See the "About" menu for the objective of the course.

Have a look at the useful points in the links below.

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Thinking Anxiety

🛈 Facing the challenge of driving anxiety

Dealing with driving anxiety can be challenging, but there are several strategies you can try to manage and overcome it. Find whatever technique or combination of techniques work for you. Here are some pieces of advice:

  • Switched off: Sit behind the steering wheel of the car without switching it on, till you eventually become comfortable in that environment. See Reddit experience.

  • Start Small: Gradually expose yourself to driving situations in a controlled and incremental way. Begin with short trips in familiar areas, and progressively increase the complexity of your drives as you gain confidence.

  • Practice Relaxation Techniques: Use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing (4-7-8 method), progressive muscle relaxation, or mindfulness meditation to manage anxiety. Practice these techniques before driving and during breaks if needed.

  • Positive Visualization: Visualize successful and calm driving experiences. Picture yourself handling various driving situations confidently and without anxiety. Positive visualization can help reframe your mindset.

  • Take Breaks: If you start feeling anxious during a drive, find a safe place to pull over and take a break. Use this time to relax, practice breathing exercises, and gather your thoughts before continuing.

  • Understand the Root Cause: Identify the specific aspects of driving that trigger anxiety. Understanding the root cause can help you address and work through those specific concerns.

  • Drive with a Supportive Companion: Have a friend or family member accompany you on drives. Their presence can provide emotional support and reassurance. Gradually reduce reliance on a companion as your confidence grows.

  • Inform others: Add a "New Driver" or "Please be Patient" sticker to your car which will help other drivers to be more empathetic and tolerant of your driving.

  • Enroll in a Driving Course: Consider taking a defensive driving or refresher course. These courses can enhance your driving skills, boost confidence, and provide a supportive environment for overcoming anxiety. Explain the challenge you are facing and make sure you have an empathetic instructor that will work with you, otherwise it could make matters worse.

  • Set Realistic Goals: Set achievable and realistic goals for yourself. Celebrate small victories, and don't be too hard on yourself if progress is slow. The key is gradual improvement.

  • Seek Professional Help: If your driving anxiety is severe, consider seeking help from a mental health professional, such as a therapist or counselor. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be effective in addressing anxiety-related issues.

  • Use Technology: Use navigation apps with real-time traffic information to plan routes and anticipate potential challenges. Knowing what to expect can help reduce uncertainty and anxiety.

  • In-Car Comforts: Make your car as comfortable as possible. Adjust the seat, mirrors, and temperature to your liking. Bring calming music or audiobooks to create a more pleasant driving environment.

  • Progressive Exposure: Gradually expose yourself to different driving conditions, such as heavy traffic, highways, or nighttime driving. Gradual exposure allows you to build confidence over time.

  • Focus on the Positive: Challenge negative thoughts and replace them with positive affirmations. Acknowledge when you handle challenging driving situations well, and celebrate your successes.

Remember that overcoming driving anxiety is a gradual process, and everyone progresses at their own pace. Be patient with yourself, and celebrate each step forward, no matter how small. If your anxiety persists or worsens, don't hesitate to seek professional guidance for personalized support.

🛈 How to relax while driving

Relaxing while driving is important for both your safety and overall well-being. Here are some tips to help you stay calm and relaxed behind the wheel:

  • Deep Breathing: Practice deep breathing exercises. Inhale slowly through your nose, hold your breath for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat as needed to calm your nervous system.

  • Mindfulness Meditation: Introduce mindfulness meditation techniques. Focus on your breath, sensations in your body, or the sounds around you. This can help you stay present and reduce stress.

  • Listen to Calming Music or Audiobooks: Create a playlist of calming music or listen to audiobooks during your drive. Choose content that helps you relax and enjoy the journey.

  • Plan Ahead: Plan your route and allow extra time for potential delays. Knowing you have ample time can reduce the stress of being in a hurry.

  • Adjust Your Seat and Mirrors: Ensure your seat, steering wheel, and mirrors are adjusted for comfort. A comfortable driving position contributes to a more relaxed experience.

  • Use Aromatherapy: Consider using calming scents like lavender or chamomile in your car. Essential oil diffusers or scented air fresheners can create a more soothing environment.

  • Limit Distractions: Minimize distractions in the car. Avoid texting, talking on the phone, or engaging in activities that divert your attention from the road.

  • Take Breaks: If you're on a long drive, take regular breaks to stretch and relax. A short break can rejuvenate you and make the overall journey more comfortable.

  • Visualize a Calm Scene: Picture yourself in a calming and serene place. Visualization of peaceful scenes can help shift your focus away from stressors.

  • Use Cruise Control: If appropriate, use cruise control on highways. This can help maintain a consistent speed and reduce the need for constant acceleration and braking.

  • Drive at Comfortable Speeds: Stick to a speed that you're comfortable with. Avoid feeling pressured to match the speed of surrounding traffic if it makes you uneasy.

  • Stay Hydrated: Dehydration can contribute to feelings of fatigue and stress. Keep a bottle of water with you and stay hydrated while driving.

  • Positive Affirmations: Use positive affirmations to reinforce a calm mindset. Remind yourself that you are a capable and safe driver.

  • Limit Caffeine Intake: While a moderate amount of caffeine can help keep you alert, excessive caffeine can contribute to anxiety. Be mindful of your caffeine intake, especially if you're prone to feeling jittery.

  • Focus on Breathing and Posture: Pay attention to your breathing and posture while driving. Ensure you are sitting comfortably and maintain relaxed breathing to alleviate tension.

Remember that it's normal to feel stressed or anxious at times, especially in challenging driving situations. If you find that your anxiety is persistent or severe, consider seeking professional advice to address the underlying causes.

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Street Survival - Advanced Defensive Driving