Tips for Driving Anxiety

Dealing with anxiety about driving is common, especially for new drivers or individuals who have had negative experiences on the road. Here are some tips to help you manage and reduce anxiety related to driving:

1. Take a Defensive Driving Course: Consider enrolling in a defensive driving course. These courses can teach you valuable skills and boost your confidence behind the wheel.

2. Start Small: Begin by driving in less challenging environments, such as quiet residential streets, before progressing to busier roads. Gradually increasing the complexity of your driving experiences can help you build confidence.

3. Practice Regularly: Practice is essential for building confidence. Spend time practicing your driving skills in various conditions, including different times of the day, weather, and traffic situations.

4. Familiarize Yourself with the Vehicle: Get to know your vehicle’s controls, including mirrors, seat adjustments, and dashboard features. Being comfortable with your vehicle can reduce anxiety.

5. Plan Your Routes: Plan your routes in advance and use GPS or navigation apps to help you navigate unfamiliar areas. Knowing where you’re going can alleviate some stress.

6. Avoid Rush Hour Traffic: If possible, avoid driving during peak traffic hours until you become more comfortable. This can help reduce the pressure of congested roads.

7. Take Deep Breaths: When you start feeling anxious, take deep breaths to relax. Deep, slow breathing can help calm your nervous system and reduce anxiety.

8. Use Positive Self-Talk: Replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations. Remind yourself of your driving skills and your ability to handle various situations.

9. Stay Informed: Be aware of traffic rules and regulations, as knowledge can boost your confidence. Review the driver’s handbook and stay informed about any rule changes.

10. Manage Distractions: Minimize distractions in the car. Put away your phone, avoid eating, and focus on driving. A focused driver is a safer and more confident driver.

11. Drive with a Trusted Companion: Have a family member or friend accompany you while driving, especially during the early stages of overcoming your anxiety. Their presence can provide support and reassurance.

12. Gradual Exposure: If your anxiety is severe, consider gradual exposure therapy. Start with short drives, then gradually extend your trips as your comfort level increases.

13. Seek Professional Help: If your anxiety about driving is overwhelming and significantly affects your daily life, consider speaking with a therapist or counselor who can help you address the underlying causes and develop coping strategies.

Remember that it’s okay to feel anxious about driving, especially when you’re new to it or have had negative experiences. Overcoming driving anxiety takes time, but with patience, practice, and the right strategies, you can become a more confident and comfortable driver. If you would like more resources to help with anxiety, Alberta Health has more helpful information.