Many people who have generalized anxiety disorder, and those that experience high levels of anxiety or panic attacks on a regular basis, struggle with sustaining a productive and balanced lifestyle. Simple activities such as driving a car or going shopping can create very strong feelings of anxiety, and may even lead to a panic attack. A fear of driving or driving phobia is a common side effect of anxiety disorders for many people, but there are some ways to overcome it so that day-to-day living doesn’t become so overwhelming.
Driving phobia is defined as an intense fear of driving a motorized vehicle. Some people develop driving phobia after they have been in an accident, but others develop this intense fear of driving a motor vehicle for no specific reason at all.
It doesn’t really matter what causes driving phobia in your particular situation. The best way to overcome it is to address that you have it, and use some specific anxiety reduction techniques that will help you reduce or eliminate your fear of the activity, naturally.
I talk more about effective anxiety reduction strategies and techniques in my book, Panic Away. You can use some of these techniques to overcome a driving phobia. Here are some tips for overcoming driving phobia:
1. Allow yourself to feel anxious. Do not beat yourself up if you start to feel anxious. Expect it and then when it arrives do not fight against it. Allowing the anxiety to be present with you on your journey stops the internal conflict.
2. Practice deep breathing before you get in the car. Undertake some deep breathing exercises to clear your mind and increase oxygen to the brain. When you’re feeling fearful, your breathing may be shallow and this can trigger more anxiety.
3. Avoid caffeine or sugary foods before driving. Stimulants may keep you awake, but they can also trigger a panic attack and increase anxiety.
4. Practice in a comfortable and safe setting. If you’re fearful about driving on the freeway for an extended period of time, practice driving on an open stretch during non-peak driving hours like a sunday so you become more familiar and comfortable with the territory.
5. Remember you can always pull over. If you start to feel overwhelmed, remember that you can always pull to the side of the road to take a break. This can help you overcome driving phobia and the extreme level of anxiety you feel about the situation.