Publisher: Hypnosis Motivation Institute
Driving anxiety is a very common form of anxiety that can range in severity from a hesitation to drive, where anxiety is always present, all the way up to a total refusal to drive at all, in which case it becomes driving phobia. A phobia is a fear that is paralyzing but irrational. Driving phobia is one of the most common phobias.
Driving phobia is a form of agoraphobia, literally defined as is the fear of open spaces. But it's not the fear of open spaces that scares people, it's the fear of loss of control. People with a driving phobia fear being trapped in a traffic jam and unable to escape if they experience a panic attack, likewise, they also fear passing out, losing control of the vehicle, throwing up or getting into an accident. For many people, driving next to big trucks can be very nerve racking, as can be merging on the freeway or driving in the fast lane.
Symptoms of driving anxiety or phobia are similar to those of most other forms of anxiety: heart palpitations, perspiring and sweaty palms, disorientation, confusion, dizziness, dry mouth and shortness of breath. This is the classic "fight or flight response". Sometimes people feel that they are going to die or go crazy. This can be really scary and people will avoid driving to avoid these kind of intense feelings. Of course, these are just feelings and even the most severe panic attacks don't cause any long term ill effects.
Obviously, this can seriously impact a person's ability to function on a daily basis if they need to drive to work or drive for a living, especially here in Southern California where driving is necessary to get anywhere fast.
Driving anxiety can start in many ways. Usually a person has experienced an incident such as a car accident or "close call" and that memory is still causing the subconscious mind to be protective. Sometimes, although not often, this kind of anxiety can show up seemingly out of the blue. If you are a person that is prone to anxiety or fear, then driving may just be one place where this shows up.
In addition, episodes of low blood sugar can create anxiety which can become associated with driving, if you happen to be driving when the low blood sugar takes place. Low blood sugar can be caused from not eating or after eating a meal high in simple carbs or sugar. This is especially true for those that have family histories of diabetes or hypoglycemia.
Driving anxiety can turn into a phobia though avoidance. In other words, of you have some fear of driving and you decide to stop altogether, it becomes a full blown phobia and the more you avoid it, the harder it is to get back in the saddle, so to speak. The good news is, fear of driving is a learned behavior. If you have ever felt comfortable driving, then that is something you learned, so if you are uncomfortable now, you can relearn how to be comfortable again.
Here are some tips to help you get back on the road feeling safe and comfortable and confident. If you are currently not driving due to fear, I highly recommend that you seek help as many have been able to resume driving with the help of a good Therapist or Hypnotherapist.
The most important thing to realize is that even though anxiety does not feel good, it will not kill you. It is your reaction to the feeling of anxiety that can make it manageable or not. Instead of fighting anxiety, just allow it to be. Notice it, and see if you can observe it with detachment. Take deep breaths and try to remain in the present moment. Realize you have a tendency to create anxiety with your thoughts so try focusing on something else, like the environment, music, or the cars in front of you.
If you are still driving even though you experience anxiety, these tips can be helpful and good luck. However, if your level of anxiety is very high or if you are phobic, you will probably need some help. As a hypnotherapist specializing in anxiety, I can tell you that you don't need to live with the anxiety; hypnotherapy can be effective for allowing you to drive comfortably, confidently and safely.