I have really bad social anxiety but over the last few years it has manifested in other anxieties too.
Over the last year, I’ve occurred driving anxiety. Not your typical I’m scared of driving because highways are scary. Nope, this is a full on nightmare (I drive out of state a lot and I’m terrified most of time but these tips help a ton!).
I’m ok if I’m going somewhere that I know like the grocery store, work, or my favorite places but take me outside my city limits (see what I did there, trying to lighten the mood a little) and I become a full blown anxious mess.
I get this anxious feeling and the cars are so close on a 6 lane highway with the speed limit of 75mph and everyone is going well over while trying to push you out of the way and into the car in front of you, like you’re a ghost or because the have the ability to make the car in front of you go faster.
I am worried about getting into an accident and hurting or killing someone. I know that sounds crazy but I am terrified someone is going to die because of me. I think what if I have a panic attack while I’m driving, what if I lose control, what if I get trapped. All of these and more are swirling around on repeat in my brain.
Here are 3 ways I curb my driving anxiety:
1. Use affirmations – this is a huge one for me! It may sound like a bunch of woohoo if you don’t believe in it like affirmations but they help me. I repeat something like “I can only control my vehicle” or “you are fine, everything is ok and will be ok”.
2. Take slow deep breaths – When you feel your anxiety coming on. Relax your shoulders, sit back, and relax your jaw. I’m a huge jaw clincher myself, that’s a tell sign I’m anxious.
3. Practice being mindful – being aware of your surroundings can help de-escalate the situation. Take into account how you feel at that moment and let yourself let it go. Also try to be aware of what makes you happy in a moment you’re not anxious. Are you feeling excited because you’re going to see a friend, your favorite restaurant, or you’re headed on an adventure? Let that feeling guide you throughout your journey too.
As I said in my affirmation, you can only control yourself and your car. If someone travels into your lane, don’t panic just give the other driver a moment to correct themself. You don’t need to keep the trend going by drifting into someone else’s lane because that person may not be paying attention.
The trick is not to add to your anxiety and take the steps needed to make yourself feel safe with your surroundings. Checking your blind spots, using your blinker, and traveling in the slower lane can make you feel safer when you’re surrounded by lanes of traffic or just 2 lanes of traffic.