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Driving Anxiety – 5 Pointers to Prevent Panic Attacks While You are Driving

I must confess…getting behind the wheel of a vehicle stresses me out a lot. This is not such a big confession because lots of people experience stress, become worn thin, are pushed to the limit or whatever other term you want to use, when they are driving. This happens a lot. Several times I have experienced a rush of anxiety and fear that has completely overwhelmed me while I was driving in heavy traffic or other times when crossing a bridge that is long and high. What are these? The answer is: they are driving phobias, driving anxiety, freeway phobia. They go by many different names but the bottom line is that they are types of panic attacks.

My driving anxiety is mild and so it has never been uncontrollable, and I have always managed to make my self calm down by breathing deeply. However, there are many people whose driving phobia or fear of experiencing an anxiety attack while driving is so deep that they can’t even sit on the driver’s seat at all. For those who are in this category of driving panic attacks, a mechanism to reconfigure and relax their brains is needed so that they can get back their capability to drive normally. There are techniques which are quite doable.

Simple Things to do if you Experience a Panic Attack in the Process of Driving

1) Move over to the slow lane. When the cars behind you and those passing you on the right hand side are honking at you and the drivers are yelling at you, this will only make your anxiety increase.

2) Take deep breaths and switch on the radio if this helps you. The radio being on usually makes me forget my worries.

3) Drive slower since you have now moved to the slow lane. Let all the insane drivers pass. You are not required to join their competition of “I’ll get there before you do.”

4) Open your window in order to let fresh air in, even if it’s cold outside. This cold air will take your mind off your racing heart.

5) If you have to, safely pull off onto the shoulder. Rest for five minutes. Don’t come out of the car. It’s best just to take deep breaths and let the situation pass.

You need to recognize that these fears you are experiencing are not rational and that as long as you don’t lose your head then you will be quite safe. I know this is difficult to do when you are going down the road at 70mph with a vehicle following you and another vehicle cutting you off every few seconds.

Unfortunately stress and driving go together especially if you are driving in the city. This stress and anxiety can be dealt with, but you must first see that it is not abnormal to feel some trepidation while you are driving. What is abnormal is letting this anxiety get the better of you, causing so much fear that it interferes with your normal daily life. If your driving phobias get out of control, look for some help. There are excellent programs that are effective in dealing with driving phobias, for example, the driving fear program. Good luck and best wishes!