Do you suffer from anxiety when driving on highway or fear driving in general? Finding ways to overcome this fear is necessary in order to feel the freedom of travel. It can effect the person as a driver and sometimes even as a passenger. This article will help you learn how to begin to conquer this fear.
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I have personal experience helping my teen overcome a fear of driving as well as overcome anxiety driving on the highway. It is an continuous battle that has definitely improved tremendously.
She now feels confident to travel the highway. This has taken practice, patience, and persistence. The fear of driving can come upon someone suddenly or build up over time. An anxiety order will only intensify the problem.
My mother suffered from this fear as well. She had a difficult time driving on the highway as well as being a passenger comfortably in the car. She has gotten better over the years and has dealt with this head-on.
The good new is that anyone can overcome this phobia of driving by empowering him or herself with the tools below. It is not an easy journey necessarily, however, taking the first step makes it easier to take the next. You CAN OVERCOME Your anxiety of driving or fear of driving on the highway.
This post is About Anxiety When Driving on Highway and Anxiety about Driving in General: Ways to Successfully Overcome This Fear.
Disclaimer: No content on this site should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor, a qualified clinician or other qualified health care professional.
Causes of Driving Anxiety?
There are several different reasons for a person to develop a fear of driving also known as Amaxophobia. All of these reasons can trigger the onset of a freeway phobia at any given time. Some may be able to contain their anxiety symptoms occasionally while others have difficulty under most circumstances. The following are some of the causes for developing anxiety when driving in general whether it be on the highway or not.
- A bad car accident or other motor vehicle accidents
- Another negative experience
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Binocular Vision Dysfunction- eye muscles
- Mental health conditions
- A panic disorder or another anxiety disorder
- Bad experiences as a first time drive
- Stress and overstimulation
- Irrational thinking - hyperfocus on fear and bad things happening
Fear of Driving - Physical Symptoms
- Increased heart rate/ A racing heart
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Increased sweating, clammy palms
- Impaired Thinking due to Neurotransmitter Functioning
Fear of Driving - Mental & Emotional Symptoms
- Irrational Fear/ Extreme Fear which can almost be paralyzing
- Hyper-focused Thinking on one thing (ex. coming to an intersection and not knowing what to do.)
- Irrational Thoughts
- Excessive Worrying
How Can I Drive on the highway without anxiety?
There are steps to take that will allow you to ease your anxious thoughts, relax your nervous system, and get control over panic attacks that may occur while on the highway.
There is a lot more commotion on the highway which makes it more intense for a nervous driver.
The following are things to do to get better control over your highway anxiety:
- Practice Relaxation Techniques and know them well enough to instantly recall them when anxiety hits on a busy highway.
- Begin with small steps - Begin with shorter spurts on the highway. Travel highways with less traffic first before traveling in heavy traffic. Also, travel from just one exit to the next to avoid having to get into the next lane.
- Pick less busy times of the day to drive on the highway when possible.
- Join support groups- online or in person
- Take classes with a highly-trained driving instructor who can teach you techniques.
- Begin with local roads and find alternate routes on secondary roads when possible.
- Focus on the positive to reach your goal - ex. more freedom of going places.
- Try to stay in the right lane as much as possible.
- Make sure you are as comfortable in car as possible - adjust the air, steering wheel, mirrors, and seat ahead of time.
- Practice the relaxation techniques below prior to trip and during trip for maximum benefits.
- Leave yourself plenty of time to arrive to your destination.
- Give yourself some slack. Being negative with yourself will not help the situation. Celebrate the small wins.
- Positive talk. Mind over matter is effective too. Write statements about you driving that reflect overcoming the situation.
- Play soothing sounds or relaxing music while driving in the car.
- Take the supplements suggested below to help take the edge off your anxiety.
- Use the essential oil diffuser below as well for creating a relaxing atmosphere in the car through scent.
- Take a class with a trained professional to learn therapeutic techniques.
- This may not be as helpful for some, but take a defensive driver's class. This can help the anxious person feel more in control of the car.
- Deep Breaths - Deep breathing seems to be an obvious one, but it can easily be overlooked. Controlling your heart rate with deep breathing will allow for better neurotransmitter functioning and better decision making.
- Envision positive outcomes and do not focus on bad things. This is definitely easier said than done, especially for someone with an anxiety disorder. However, practice will help to make this possible.
- Stress Management - Learn to apply this to all life practices to help lessen a fight or flight response in your body.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy gives you the opportunity to talk through your fear of driving with a trained psychologist. During the session they will work on your anxiety disorder by discussing ways to get your fear of travel under control.
These ways may include replacing unreasonable thinking with more reasonable thoughts, practice positive thinking, and recognizing your negative thinking when your anxiety attacks occur on the road or highway and replacing them with your positive thoughts.
Practicing the positive thoughts over and over makes them easier to recall when your intense fear of driving kicks in. A great program that helps you deal with anxiety of all types can be found near the end of the article.
Exposure therapy on the other hand is more submersive. According to the American Psychology Association the patient confronts their fear in a safe environment with a psychologist. This therapy thinks avoiding a situation can make the specific phobia worse.
The therapy uses different approaches depending on what is best for the individual. Fears treated include phobias, panic disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety, and social anxiety.
Other Helpful Things for driving Anxiety on the Highway
Hemp oil helps many people greatly with anxiety. Hemp is taken from hemp seeds. This specific hemp oil contains 0% THC. We take another Hemp oil that we specifically get from our doctor, however, this one is high-quality as well.
Lemon balm tinctures are another wonderful supplement for anxiety. The same as above, we take a lemon balm supplement which our doctor both creates and sells.
It is among the best lemon balm I have had besides a tincture that my friend made with her home-grown lemon balm. However, Gaia is a reputable company that makes high-quality, organically-certified tinctures which I trust and use too.
According to the National Institutes of Health:
Lavender essential oil has an extensive anecdotal history of anxiolytic benefit that has recently been supported by clinical efficacy studies.
This makes lavender essential oil a simple yet effective addition to use to scent the car. Using all the senses to create a relaxing and stress-free environment is highly beneficial to an anxious person.
This essential oil diffuser is met to be used in the car and gives off a light, calming lavender scent. The diffuser can easily be taken on the go anywhere.
This program is offered by Dr. Daniel Amen. If you are unable to attend an in-person group or counseling, this is a nice alternative. Mental health professionals created the step-by-step program to help people with anxiety apply practical techniques into their everyday life.
we used the program ourselves and were pleased with it. A workbook is offered along with a series of videos. Everyone benefits differently depending on their circumstances and severity of their anxiety issue.
Dr. Amen and Amen University also offers natural remedies to help lessen anxiety symptoms as well. Check out his site for many different options.
Anxiety occurs to many people and can interfere with one's life. However, the reasoning why the anxiety is occurring will differ from one person to another. Seek to create a healthy body and getting to the route causes whether mental, emotional, or physical is going to help you best deal with your fear of driving.
This post was About Anxiety When Driving on the Highway and Ways to Successfully Overcome This Fear.
- Malcolm, B. J., & Tallian, K. (2018). Essential oil of lavender in anxiety disorders: Ready for prime time?. The mental health clinician, 7(4), 147–155.
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