stress and anxiety around driving

Driving Anxiety is Cognitive, not Physical

Anxiety and panic attacks, regardless of the triggers, often come with a set of physical symptoms.  This can be dizziness, Norcia, tingling hands and legs, raised heart rate etc.  Because we don’t like the way this makes us feel, we then avoid the triggers that set these symptoms off.

The fact is though that your Anxiety is Cognitive, not Physical.  Let me repeat that: Anxiety is Cognitive, not Physical.

When it comes to Driving Anxiety this can become extremely restrictive to your life as you have to rely on others or not so reliable public transport. You start living your life on other peoples’ schedules, not your own. This can be costly both financially and emotionally and can put strain on relationships.

The trouble is, we start to fear the fear and so AVOID the places that trigger those uncomfortable feelings.  (This is natural as human beings we don’t want to feel these uncomfortable and sometimes out of control feelings).  But let me repeat… This is COGNATIVE, NOT PHYSICAL.

So, what does RECOVERY look like?  Well firstly, Recovery is not linier and it isn’t easy.  I want you to understand that RECOVERY for Driving Anxiety doesn’t mean the fear will go away entirely.  It’s about managing the fear by gentle exposure or baby-steps if you prefer.

Accepting that the occasional wave of panic or anxiety may still re-visit you, but you as you are EMPOWERED with the right tools to cope, you get through and understand that you are OK! This is what recovery looks like. This is your new normal.

1 thought on “Driving Anxiety is Cognitive, not Physical

  1. Reply
    Emily - May 17, 2023

    After having my driver’s license for several years, I had to start driving actively.

    I always had a fear of driving, but it was never a must for me to drive because I live in a small city where you can actually walk everywhere.

    But then I got a job where I had to drive a lot due to a lack of job options, so I had to accept.

    One night, I went for a ride, and guess what happened? I was so afraid of driving and traffic that I panicked. And to make matters worse, I forgot to turn on the headlights, and it was evening, pitch black.

    That really frustrated me, so I had to do something about that irrational fear and anxiety.

    I’m also shy by nature, so I tried to find an online solution as I usually do. I started with some YouTube videos, but they were all focused on getting likes and shares, and nothing helped.

    So I decided to search for an online course. To be honest, I didn’t expect to find anything specifically for driving phobia.

    But it turns out there are more people like me, maybe a bit crazy (just kidding).

    I joined some forums for anxiety, and I received a recommendation to try a course.

    That was a month ago, and now things are completely different. I’ve developed the discipline to continue doing something if it goes well.

    I watched instructional videos that outlined the steps to follow. They helped me understand the first step, second step, and so on.

    For example, during the first several days, I chose to drive when there was less traffic than usual.

    I planned my exact route, noting where to turn and where to go. I focused solely on driving and addressing the anxiety problem.

    Taking those initial steps gave me confidence, making it easier to tackle more challenging tasks. For instance, I ventured into areas with uphill roads for several kilometers, and so on.

    I find it beneficial to have clear steps to follow for each stage.

    And do you know what else triggers anxiety? When you want to control the next ten steps, but you’re unsure about what will happen.

    Always ask yourself, “Can I do the next step?” Focus only on that one step. In 99% of cases, you already know what to do next, which often calms my mind.

    I can’t believe how much my confidence has improved, and now I experience minimal anxiety because I’m in control (though there are still times with heavy traffic, etc.).

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