Some people dislike or even fear driving. If you are so afraid of driving that you cause yourself a lot of stress, you may have a driving phobia. While driving or sitting in a car, you may feel like your life is in danger, or even experience a panic attack, heart palpitations, or terror. If you can't control your anxiety, you won't be able to drive comfortably, or not at all. Face your fear and try to overcome it so you can drive again and take control of your life.
Part 1: Using relaxation techniques
1Create a quiet environment in car. You should be able to sit comfortably in your car whether it is moving or not. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Before driving, practice sitting in car and relaxing. Try turning on some uplifting music that will help overcome panic building up in your heart and drown out noise of other vehicles.
· Some people, even if they are confident driving, may feel anxious if there are noisy passengers in their car. Keep car quiet and free of debris or debris.
· Repair car as soon as it needs repair so you can feel more confident in car.
2Practice abdominal breathing. If you're having a panic attack and your neck and chest muscles are tight, try breathing deeply. Inhale slowly through your nose, allowing air to go deep into your lungs. Let your belly expand, then pause and hold your breath. Then exhale slowly and let your whole body relax.
· Repeat 10 times, counting from 10 to 1 with each exhalation. Try doing 3 sets of 10 breaths each.
3Perform progressive muscle relaxation exercises. Contract and relax your body muscles to learn how to control and relieve stress. Start by clenching your fists for 7-10 seconds. Then relax for 15-20 seconds, focusing on feeling of tension leaving muscles in your arms. Then move up to contract and relax other muscle groups, from arms to head, and then down back to feet and toes.
· Even without panic attacks, you can practice for 20 minutes a day. It can increase your self-control over your emotions, reduce frequency of panic attacks, and improve your concentration.
4 . Remind yourself that you can make a difference with short, positive statements. When it comes to driving, you can use following positive affirmations:
· I drive carefully and respect speed limit. As long as you drive carefully, you will be safe.
· Driving a car is a normal activity. I'm just constantly alert and doing my daily activities very carefully.
· I don't have to drive very fast. If I want to drive slower, I can keep to right (or left in some countries).
· I don't have to take risk of changing lanes at last minute. If I miss my turn, I have option to return safely.
· I planned this trip in detail from start to finish. I know where I am going and when I need to change lanes and turn. I am well prepared.
· Even if I'm just a passenger, I can control my reactions to trip. I can ask driver to stop at any time if I feel uncomfortable.
Part 2. Exposure therapy
1Fight your fears. You may have been told that you need to face your fears. Especially if you've been afraid to drive because you're afraid of a panic attack, it's even more important to learn how to face your fears. Exposure therapy is one of important ways to overcome fear, but you must first understand and learn how to use relaxation techniques in order to have some self-control during treatment.
· Avoiding fear will only aggravate situation and may provoke other phobias.
2Develop a worry scale. Know your level of anxiety so you can quickly take action to calm down before panic sets in. You can also use Anxiety Scale to know when you need to stop exposure therapy so you don't get into a mild panic state. The scale should describe psychological and physical symptoms of anxiety. An example is shown below:
· 0 - Completely relaxed: without tension, calm and peaceful.
· 1 - Minimal anxiety: somewhat tense, more alert or awake.
· 2 - Mild restlessness: muscle tension, tingling or restlessness.
3 - Moderate restlessness: rapid heart rate and breathing, feeling a little uncomfortable, but still in control.
4 - Significant restlessness: muscles are clearly tense, feeling of discomfort is getting stronger and stronger, and you begin to doubt whether you can control yourself
· 5 - Onset of panic: heartbeat begins to increase or become irregular, dizziness, a distinct sense of fear of losing control and a desire to run away.
· 6 - Moderate panic: palpitations, shortness of breath, confusion in direction of time.
· 7 to 10 - Full-blown panic attack: feelings of dread, fear of death, worsening symptoms of moderate panic attacks.
3Write down your fears. Describe in detail what aspect of driving you are afraid of. Then review them carefully and rank them in order from least frightening to panic attacks so that you can gradually confront your fears according to list. You need to work them slowly and not allow yourself to really lose control.
· For example, holding your car keys may be least of your fears, and driving on highway can trigger a panic attack.
4Step by step. Start with least frightening item on your list and gradually approach these stimulating situations until you no longer feel anxious. Once you have full control over an element, move on to next element in list or on timeline. For example, your list might look like this, ordered from smallest to largest:
· Hold your car keys and watch your car parked in your driveway.
· Sit in car and gradually move to a sitting position over 5 minutes.
Drive around area where you live
· When passing through a neighborhood, try turning right and then left. If you live in a left-hand traffic country, try turning left first and then practice turning right.
· When driving down street, turn left at a traffic light or stop sign. A country with left-hand traffic is a right turn.
· Drive in right lane of expressway. If you are in a country with left-hand traffic, drive in left lane. Get off expressway after 1 or 2 exits.
· Drive in left lane of expressway. If you are in a country with left-hand traffic, drive in opposite direction on right lane. Get off expressway at 2 exits.
· Rebuilding for overtaking on a freeway. Get off the expressway after 3 to 5 exits.
5Ride in a car driven by someone you trust. If you're even afraid to drive, you can also get exposure therapy to overcome your fear. You don't have to drive, just drive with someone you trust and work your way through your fears step by step. Choose someone who drives very carefully. Once you're comfortable with his car, try a different driver or call up a more complex scenario, like asking him to take freeway.
Find out what factors make you most comfortable hitchhiking. Maybe you prefer to sit in back seat. Maybe you find it less stressful to sit next to driver. Experiment with different approaches to see which one works best for you.
6Dedicated to learning to drive. Most people are afraid to drive for first time. It may be a good idea to find someone who is knowledgeable and experienced in car training to teach you how to reduce fear. A good driver can put you at ease and put you comfortably behind wheel.
· Consider teaching you a regular driving instructor. You may find that cause of your anxiety about learning to drive is actually caused by last instructor, especially relatives who have no teaching experience may teach you wrong way.
Part 3 Help
1Know when to seek medical attention. If your fear of driving is interfering with your daily life, you should seek medical or psychological help. If you are not sure who to contact, you can contact your doctor and they can refer you to a specialist trained in this field. You can consult a doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist or counselor who specializes in treatment of phobias.
· If your depression is getting worse because you can't drive, it's important to seek help. Do not let yourself get used to this fear, which can cause other phobias besides the fact that it will prevent you from driving.
2Receive psychotherapy. You can attend one-on-one sessions with a counselor or therapist. In addition to relaxation techniques and exposure therapy, counselor may just want to chat with you. Talking is important for brain to learn how to deal with fear, and it gives you opportunity to think about root causes of your fear of driving and then take action accordingly.
· Don't expect consultants to give you advice. Many counselors simply listen and ask questions, allowing you to ponder answers and explore your inner fears.
3Join a support group. If you prefer to discuss your phobia with a group of people, check out your local driving phobia support groups. You can also find a group of people with symptoms similar to you in online support groups. Just knowing that there are many other people who share your illness can go a long way in overcoming your fear.
· You can also talk about it with family and friends. Tell them about your fears and explain difficulties you face. Understanding relatives and friends is very useful for you.
· Consider enrolling in a driving school or a driving course. There are coaches who specialize in helping anxious drivers get back on road. They will give practical lessons in a safe place and then take you slowly down real road or place you fear most.
· Try different procedures. Only by trying will you know which method works for you in overcoming your phobia.
· Other helpful therapies include hypnotherapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, but research on these treatments has been mixed and there is no guarantee they will work for you.