Driving is a common activity that many people engage in on a daily basis. However, for some individuals, driving can be a source of anxiety and fear. Up to 79% of Australians have reported feeling anxious about driving. Anxiety about driving can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. In this blog, we will discuss some strategies for overcoming driving anxiety. These strategies are only relevant if you have low level anxiety. You should seek assistance if your anxiety is high or ongoing.
- Identify triggers: The first step in overcoming driving anxiety is to identify the triggers that cause the anxiety. This may include certain road conditions, driving in heavy traffic, or driving on highways. Once you have identified your triggers, you can begin to develop strategies for managing them.
- Practice relaxation techniques: Practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation, can help reduce feelings of anxiety. Try practicing these techniques before you drive or while you are driving to help calm your nerves. A psychologist can show you how to effectively build and use relaxation techniques.
- Exposure therapy: Exposure therapy is a type of therapy that involves gradually exposing yourself to your fears. In the case of driving anxiety, this may involve gradually increasing the amount of time you spend behind the wheel or driving in different types of conditions. Exposure therapy is not a self help strategy and should always be done in consultation with a health professional such as a clinical psychologist.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to anxiety. A therapist can help you identify these patterns and develop strategies for changing them.
- Medication: In some cases, medication may be prescribed to help manage symptoms of driving anxiety. This may include anti-anxiety medication or antidepressants. You should consult your GP or psychiatrist about the appropriateness of medication for your circumstance.
- Consult with a psychologist. If your anxiety about driving is not changing, or if you are avoiding driving it is important to speak with a professional about this. If you have anxiety about driving because you have had a traumatic experience on the road then your anxiety might be due to PTSD and that requires a specific therapy.
Overcoming driving anxiety takes time and effort, but with the right strategies and support, it is possible. If you are struggling with driving anxiety, the Centre for Clinical Psychology in Melbourne can help. Our team of experienced psychologists offers a range of services to support individuals with anxiety. If you have had a traumatic incident on the road we can help with anxiety that might be related to trauma and PTSD. You can book an appointment by calling 03 9077 0122 or online at https://ccp.net.au/booking/. Take the first step towards overcoming your driving anxiety today.
American Psychological Association. (2020). Exposure therapy. https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/exposure-therapy
National Institute of Mental Health. (2021). Anxiety disorders. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml
Mayo Clinic. (2021). Cognitive behavioral therapy. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cognitive-behavioral-therapy/about/pac-20384610