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Overcoming the fear: Tips for dealing with driving anxiety

Whether you're nervous about passing your driving test or you've had an accident and now feel apprehensive, driving anxiety is very real and can have a significant impact on people’s life.

This could be amaxophobia, a fear of being in a vehicle, either as a passenger or a driver.

  • Fear of driving on dual carriageways or motorways

  • Fear of driving in the dark

  • Fear of driving on your own

  • Fear of driving with passengers

  • Fear when driving somewhere new

Image of wing mirroe

Perhaps you are struggling to pass your driving test due to nerves, perhaps you are a new driver struggling to find their assurance, perhaps an accident has impacted your confidence. Or perhaps there is no specific reason you are aware of. It may be that you have always been comfortable driving and relatively confident behind the wheel but all of a sudden you now feel anxious and don’t know why!

This phobia can be serious, making it difficult or even impossible for people to be in a car, bus, train, or airplane. If you have amaxophobia, it's likely that life has been impacted considerably because of your phobia. You may find it difficult to drive anywhere on your own, even if the trip is short. Perhaps the thought of going somewhere alone makes you feel anxious and uncomfortable. If this sounds familiar to you, then there are plenty of ways that hypnotherapy can help.

It is more common than you may think. It affects both men and women, although it is slightly more common among women. It can also affect people of all ages, although it's most common in people between the ages of 30 and 50.

A recent study found that people who experience driving anxiety have a higher risk of depression and anxiety disorders than those who don't suffer from the condition. The good news? Although this problem may be difficult to overcome on your own, there are ways to treat it.

There are a number of factors that can cause driving anxiety, including:

  • The fear of the unknown. When you first begin driving and don’t know what to expect, it can be very frightening. You may not fully understand why something is happening and how to react in those moments.

  • Lack of confidence. When you have no or little experience under your belt, it can seem like everyone else knows wha they’re doing while you feel out of control and unsure about yourself. This lack of confidence leads to self-doubt which only makes things worse!

  • Concern about other people’s driving and the lack of control over how other people drive.

  • Being involved in an accident, or a near miss, may lead to a change in driving confidence.

  • Impact of the pandemic. Many people have noticed their driving habits have changed considerably during the pandemic and they are now struggling to find their pervious confidence.

Image of man driving

Hypnotherapy and Driving Anxiety

Driving anxiety is a common issue that I have worked together with many clients on.

When looking at ways of alleviating driving anxiety symptoms such as nausea or panic attacks, there are several different techniques that can help ease this discomfort:

Hypnotherapy is a talking therapy that helps you understand how your thoughts, feelings and behaviour are connected. It can help you change the way you think about driving if it causes anxiety in order to reduce the amount of stress it causes you on the road.

This will be combined with relaxation techniques often used in hypnotherapy, such as deep breathing exercises; progressive muscle relaxation; guided imagery; visualization; mindfulness meditation etc. When in hypnosis, you will be much more open to positive suggestions for your benefit. Working with the unconscious mind, we can help it understand there is no need for anxiety, and that a more relaxed approach to driving is far more helpful.

In any therapy you will likely talk though your own situation and experiences, exploring your own history of driving.

A solution focussed approach will look ahead to what you want to achieve and the freedom that no longer having this anxiety will give you. Working at both a conscious and an unconscious level, it is possible to overcome the barriers to driving, acknowledging that there probably is a possible intention, but finding a new positive way to fulfil this intention that is free from anxiety.

Don't forget to breathe!

You might not realize it, but breathing is a natural way to control your stress levels. When you breathe in and out, it helps you to stay calm and relaxed. It also helps you focus on the task at hand, instead of thinking about how nervous or anxious driving makes you feel.

When driving, try taking deep breaths by inhaling through your nose for five seconds before exhaling slowly through your mouth for 10 seconds. Repeat this exercise as many times as needed throughout the course of your trip so that your body stays in an optimal state of relaxation throughout the entire drive.

Change your thinking

The thoughts that play through your mind will help keep you feeling relaxed and safe.

If you're feeling anxious, it's important to focus on the road, and not on your thoughts. A lot of driving anxiety comes from worrying about what other people are thinking about you.

Focusing on your fears instead of focusing on driving safely (and fears can make any situation seem more dangerous than it actually is).

Get in touch

I hope this article helped you to understand what driving anxiety is and how you can deal with it. If you need any additional help or support with driving anxiety, then hypnotherapy can help.

Get in touch to find out about the benefits of hypnotherapy. A few online sessions can make a big difference and help you achieve your goals.


Malcolm Struthers Hypnotherapy - Online and in-person in Dumfries & Galloway


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