According to the World in Data, 284 million people in the world have some kind of anxiety disorder. WHO reports that 1 in 13 people suffer from anxiety disorders.
When it comes to data about driving anxiety, there is limited data, but if we look at the research about the same, there are 12.5 % of Americans who have driving phobias.
There are deep psychological reasons why people have driving anxiety. Let’s start by discussing some of these reasons why people have anxiety while driving or parking a car.
Some signs that show you may have a driving anxiety problem
An easier way to understand if someone has driving anxiety is that they fear driving a car, they have a phobia of driving the car, or even travelling in a car. They also have stress when they think about driving a car.
Here are some of the specific signs of driving anxiety:
- Excessive fear associated with driving
- Panic attacks
- Sweaty palms and excessive sweating
- Breath shortness
- Fast and rapid breathing
- Racing heartbeat
Reasons That Cause Driving Anxiety
1. Trauma in the past
If someone has had a bad traumatic experience, it could cause strong anxiety about driving. This condition is called PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). It was found that 30% of people who have gone through accidents have driving anxiety. In such cases, one can have a strong desire to get away from the vehicle or even a panic attack.
2. Fear of being lost
Fear of being lost is also one of the reasons for driving anxiety. This fear is known as Mazeophobia. When someone feels emotionally uncomfortable about a path, or an unknown place it is a sign of Mazeophobia.
3. Travelling through heavy traffic
Another reason some people are afraid of driving is because of heavy traffic. Heavy traffic has a very negative emotion associated with itself. With heavy traffic, people start to feel claustrophobic, and sometimes it is just uneasiness and an uncomfortable feeling in traffic.
4. Lack of confidence in driving skills
When one is not properly trained in driving or doesn’t have much experience while driving, or simply doesn’t have much confidence in their driving skills, they also feel anxiety while driving a car.
How to Overcome Anxiety During Driving?
1. Plan ahead
Stay prepared for your journey. If you know the routes and the path towards your destination, you have fewer chances of having anxiety during your ride. Once you’re familiar with the route you’ll have less anxiety. If possible, ask your friend or family member to accompany you or take you on a ride for once, to make you comfortable with the route.
2. Stay in local regions
If you’re aware that you have driving anxiety, it is best to stay local and get more familiar with your regular routes. Avoid going on long distances without having someone accompany you.
3. Make the car feel like a positive and safe space
The environment around you has a major impact on your mood and vibe. According to research, a good-smelling aroma has a positive influence on psychology. So it is recommended to have good smelling perfume and air freshener in your car.
Does your car get cleaned regularly? Please ensure you do. Also, have some stress relievers toys in your car to help the positive vibe. Make sure you have cleaned the air filters to prevent your car from dust and dirt
4. Focus on the destination
Our attention is where your focus is. If we are focusing on positive things, our mind is more toward positive thoughts. And, when we focus on negative things, we give space to negative thoughts.
If you focus on the destination, this will prevent you from exaggerating the fear of driving and you’ll be anticipating more about the goal.
5. Take driving lessons
As we discussed above, one of the reasons people have driving anxiety is because of a lack of self-confidence in their driving skills. If you feel you are incompetent when it comes to driving skills, get professional driving lessons. Once you are confident, you will have control over your anxiety.
6. Get your car checked
Sometimes the cause of anxiety is a lack of trust in the car or just negative thoughts and assumptions about car accidents. When you get your check, regularly maintained, make sure it has high-quality spare parts and you carry essentials in your car, it helps.
7. Stay relaxed before you even get in the car
Anxiety is caused as a result of the release of hormones like cortisol. When we experience stress our body immediately goes either into flight or fright mode. To avoid such hormonal disturbances, relax before you get into the car. Take long deep breaths. Do some quick jumps, or a quick meditation session to calm yourself before you get into the car.
8. Practice staying calm
This tip to overcome driving anxiety is not directly related to driving. It is more about taking control of your mind. Anxiety is caused when someone overthinks about a particular moment. Another way to put this is that anxiety is often caused when we are not in the present moment and our thoughts are wandering elsewhere, mostly something negative.
To reduce overall anxiety, practice regular meditation, use professional help if necessary, practice journaling, exercise regularly, and practice staying calm.
How to Overcome Anxiety During Parking?
Just like people have anxiety associated with driving, few folks have anxiety only with parking the car. They are very comfortable while driving on long routes and destinations, but when it comes to parking a car, they get anxious.
All the pointers we discussed above anxiety while driving apply to people who have anxiety while parking a car. But specifically, this is a sign that they are not confident about their parking skills. If they take regular lessons, it would benefit them.
There is a huge number of individuals out there who have anxiety about driving a car. If you have anxiety about driving or parking a car, be vocal about it to your friends and family. If the points mentioned in this blog make you feel overwhelmed, please relax and reach out for professional help.
And, if you have a friend or family member who has anxiety while driving, please understand that this is a real phenomenon. They need your support and help to overcome this phase.