In my last article I talked about driving fear and anxiety, how it arises and how it can impact on you whether you are a learner taking lessons, you are approaching your test or you have your licence yet still feel fearful when driving.

Recently I was invited to speak to the Cambridgeshire Association of Approved Driving Instructors (CAADI) at their October monthly meeting in Cambridge.

At the meeting I shared with them 5 ways to help anxious drivers to successfully abolish driving fear - and in this article I'll be sharing them with you so you can start implementing them today.

caadi driving anxiety ely

How To End Driving Fear

Here are 5 ways you can combat your driving fear:

1) Breathe Yourself Calm in the Car

By taking control over your breathing you take control over your anxiety. Switch off anxiety by breathing in for a mental count of 7 and out for a count of 11 - when your out breath is longer than your in breath it triggers your relaxation response. Practice breathing in this way several times a day and use it when you get in the car, as you are driving and even when you imagine being in the car.

2) Count Down To Driving Calmness

When we feel anxious and panicky our emotions and feelings take over and we find we can't think clearly or logically. Every part of our body is screaming for us to take action yet we want to stay sitting in the driving seat. In fact, we are designed to not think clearly in these situations. When you feel panicky your mind and body are interpreting the situation as dangerous and want you to take action.

So an easy way to driving calmness is to get the thinking part of your brain working, and using numbers is the most effective way to do this. So simply start mentally counting down from 300 in units of 3, and if you lose track just start at 300 again. If you do this for a couple of minutes you will soon find yourself feeling calm and in control. You can do this before your drive to stay calm, whilst driving (if safe to do so) and before your test or before using roads that in the past you have found challenging.

driving fear hypnotherapy in ely

3) Shift Your Focus To Calm

If you feel anxious when driving then your focus will shift to all the thoughts and feelings going on inside you. So anything that shoifts that focus to what is going on around you and outisde you has to dilute your anxiety.

There are dozens of ways to easily do this whilst driving. For example, you could start counting cars that are the same colour or try and spot a rainbow of different coloured cars. You may decide to notice the three sounds you can hear such as the sound of the engine or another car going past or you could use the power of music and play some calming music in the background. Or perhaps you will run a commentary of all the actions you are doing as you drive ('I am pushing down slightly on the pedal and now I am...').

However you decide to do this, make sure you have decided in advance of driving what you are going to put into practice.

4) Relax, Just Do It

Anxiety is a response to stress so take some time to regularly relax and reduce those general stress levels.  

And also learn how to relax in the car. Keep using the 7/11 breathing technique, spend some time just sitting in the car on your drive and learning to feel relaxed in the drivers' seat - you can sit there and listen to calm music or you could listen to my free rapid relaxation MP3 (not whilst actually driving though!). 

When you are out on the road continue to let your out breath be longer than your in breath, make sure you occasionally relax your grip on the wheel and, when you are waiting for other cars or traffic lights, loosen up your body by shaking your hands or rolling your shoulders. Pretty soon you'll find that you feel generally calmer and more in control whenever you are in the car.

5) Get Your Mind in Gear

Instead of feeling anxious whilst imagining things going badly, use the power of your mind to positively imagine what you do want to happen when you drive.

Take some time to relax and imagine watching yourself driving calmly and confidently. See yourself getting in the car, driving your journey and staying relaxed, focussed and in control.  Learn to feel relaxed while thinking about all aspects of driving and soon you will be naturally calm behind the wheel.

Make sure you put these into practice and use them regularly and consistently.

And if you need some help please give me a call.

Best wishes

Dan Regan

Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket