Your heart begins to palpitate, your face drips with sweat, and your eyes widen in fear. You can’t bring yourself to turn the key to your ignition. Carefully, lovingly, your passenger nudges you to get the car started, but it’s too late…you’re behind the wheel of your vehicle and frozen with fear.
If this scenario doesn’t seem too farfetched, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Thousands of individuals struggle with phobias that impede their ability to drive. While some drivers get nervous about tickets and accidents, other drivers worry about injuries and even death.
Whether you’re new to the wheel or you’re a seasoned driver who still stresses on the road, here’s a list of tips to help you breathe easy and put your pedal to the metal.
Do you tense up in the driver’s seat? Relax.
Relaxing is one of the most important things you can do before you turn the key. Tension and nervousness will restrict your physical and mental movement. Stress won’t let your brain process information as fast as you need it to while driving. For some drivers, relaxing is easier said than done. If you have that mindset, practice your Zen and do the following before you drive:
- Drink plenty of water
- Breathe deeply (and focus on your breathing)
- Slowly roll your head from side to side
- Count backwards
- Chew mint gum
- Squeeze a stress ball
- Run in place
- Sniff a citrus scent
- Smell flowers
- Talk to a friend
The list of relaxation tips goes on and on—the most important thing to do is separate your mind from your body and focus on the positive.
As the old adage goes, “practice makes perfect.” If you want to perfect your driving craft so you feel more comfortable on the road, you must practice regularly. There are plenty of places you can practice, including the following:
- Empty school parking lots after school lets out
- Low-traffic back roads and streets
- Driving school lots
Some drivers don’t even turn on their car to practice. Instead, drivers will sit in their car and walk themselves through the motions of driving. You can ask yourself these questions:
- What is the safest way to get from point A to point B?
- How many traffic lights will I encounter?
- When should I shift gears (for a manual-transmission vehicle)?
- What is the weather like?
Be familiar with your surroundings so you can avoid any extra stressors on the road.
The last thing you need while driving is distractions. Whether your car is usually full of screaming kids, obnoxious backseat drivers, or loud music, you need to remove all distractions so you can stay calm. If you have a caring friend or loved one who wouldn’t mind sitting in with you while you get comfortable driving, call them up and invite them to come along and offer encouragement.
Using affirmations to confirm how well you’re doing is another thing you can do to remain calm on the road. Some affirmations you might consider include the following:
- I am driving within the speed limit. I care about safety for everyone on the road.
- I don’t have to speed. It’s okay to get in the right lane if others pass me.
- I can take my time. If I miss an exit, I can take the next and find my way from there.
- I am prepared to make it to my destination.
Do you feel silly about giving yourself affirmations? Just remember that positive thinking will lower your level of stress and help you succeed behind the wheel.
Get Driving Lessons
Once you understand your fears and phobias, you can face them head-on and succeed. Driving lessons offer the perfect way for you to face your fears and find your confidence on the road. If you reside in North Vancouver or West Vancouver, North Shore Driving School offers driving lessons in North Vancouver, and offers driving school courses to Vancouver and West Vancouver residents. Instructors work to improve your driving technique and educate you on basic road rules. If you feel more comfortable one-on-one with an instructor, North Shore Driving School offers individual lessons so you don’t have to stress over what other students might say.
Once you practice, get lessons, relax, and mentally prepare yourself for driving, time behind the wheel won’t seem so bad after all.