driving anxiety and scared of driving

Driving Anxiety

Feeling scared or anxious about driving, also known as Vehophobia, affects many people throughout the UK and beyond. Recent research by the Automobile Association suggests that 23% of drivers feel anxious about using motorways whilst 39% of drivers experience fear or uncertainty when sitting in the driver’s seat in general.

What is the impact of driving anxiety?

Driving anxiety affects different drivers in different ways. For some people, it may be a fear of a specific situation (e.g. driving over bridges or driving on a motorway), whilst for others the fear may be generalised to every situation where they are required to sit in the driver’s seat or, indeed, the passenger’s seat.

Finding yourself within that stressful situation can create a whole host of symptoms including sweating, increased heart rate, shallow and rapid breathing, panic, chest pain, muscle tension (especially within your neck and shoulders) and trembling. Effectively, your body moves into “fight and flight” mode, causing your awareness levels to be heightened as you move into a state of high alert.

Avoidance of situations that cause you to experience these symptoms is a natural response. You may choose to use public transport more frequently or you may start to avoid social situations that require you to travel by car. These actions may create a long term impact as through time you may start to socially withdraw more and more until you find that your driving fear is, in fact, driving you more and more into a place of increased isolation.

What is the source of driving anxiety?

The most prevalent cause of driving anxiety is having experienced a traumatic vehicle accident. You may have been involved in the accident or you may have merely witnessed it, either way the trauma of the event can easily lead to Vehophobia.

Other identifiable reasons include witnessing the death or injury of an animal as a result of a vehicle collision, watching a traumatic collision in a film or on TV, growing up with parents who experienced driving anxiety, or parents who drove with minimal care, and driving in difficult and potentially dangerous weather conditions (e.g extreme storm conditions or heavy snow).

Sometimes you don’t know the fear’s origins, only that it is present and getting in the way of your daily life.

Whatever the cause, known or unknown, hypnotherapy can help you to overcome this anxiety and move forward with renewed confidence on the road.

How does Vehophobia relate to actual road conditions?

In many cases there is no correlation because the stress you experience relates to your perception of the danger in contrast to the actual or real level of danger. Within your highly alert state you will be anticipating potential dangers as you drive. If, in addition, you have experienced trauma from a previous driving experience you may also find yourself reliving this distressing situation as you experience flashbacks and the same extreme physical symptoms as you experienced at the time the event first occurred.

How can hypnotherapy help with driving anxiety?

Hypnotherapy can help you to change your mind about driving.

If you have experienced or witnessed a traumatic vehicle accident hypnotherapy can help you to stop foregrounding the memories associated with that experience. Effectively, whilst you will retain the memory it will no longer be uppermost in your mind and consequently, will no longer be exerting the same negative power over you in relation to driving.

By working with your unconscious mind, within that relaxed and focused state we call hypnosis, you will be enabled to begin to change your perspective in relation to the other factors that are or may be contributing to your driving anxiety. You will find, for example, that if busy roads were causing you to feel fearful, you will now be able to experience them more objectively, with a renewed sense of your own abilities and skills to effectively manage the situation.

You will learn new ways of thinking, combined with effective tools and strategies that will allow you to move forward and leave your previous driving anxiety far behind you.

Are you ready to leave your driving anxiety behind? Contact me today to begin.