It is believed that 1 in 10 people suffer from a phobia at some point in their life. They can strike at any time and can be highly debilitating. While a low level anxiety regarding likely dangers can be attributed to a healthy ‘fight or flight’ instinct; living with a phobia can be a problem that can have an increasingly interfering impact on the phobic person’s life. One very common phobia is a phobia of driving.
A phobia of driving can develop even in the most experienced of motorists. This can be triggered by any number of incidents, such as being involved in or seeing a road accident. However a phobia can simply develop for no clear reason over time. Smart Driving says: “There are the hidden stresses that build gradually each time we drive – and the more obvious stresses that result from involvement in an accident or road-rage incident. then there are stresses that arise simply from getting lost or having a bad day at the wheel.”
Symptoms of phobia are very unpleasant and can include; heart palpitations, sickness, chest pains, difficulty breathing, dizziness, ‘jelly legs’, intense sweating, faintness, dryness of throat and restricted of fuzzy vision or hearing.
If you experience any of these symptoms it is important to first acknowledge you are not in the minority. A lot of people experience these symptoms when driving. Anxiety Care have some suggestions for those who wish to overcome their phobia, such as building up from sitting in the car with the engine running to driving short distances until you feel ready to drive on a ‘trapping’ road such as the motorway with a companion. Employing relaxation techniques before driving can also help overcome any feelings of anxiety. However it is important to visit your doctor if you believe this anxiety could be linked depression.
AnxietyCare.org.uk don’t recommend simply trying to avoid driving in future: “avoidance brings a reduction of the tension, and rapidly becomes a habit, so that the next attempt becomes more difficult, and so on until the attempts to face the problem stop altogether. Avoiding the situations that make us feel frightened makes us more sensitive to those situations, and ‘conditions’ us to fear them even more.”
You can also help lower your anxiety levels by making sure you are prepared for certain possibilities that you have concerns about. Planning your route beforehand, learning about breakdowns and how to avoid them and finding out how you can make your journey safer can help make you feel more relaxed about any driving you may need to do.
It is common when first learning to drive to feel nervous behind the wheel. During your lesson you will only be pushed beyond your comfort levels as necessary in order to progress further in your lessons.