Tips to stop panic attacks when driving:
- Feel the fear, and do it anyway – we all have moments when we fear doing something. The only difference is your perceived scale of fear. You may feel you’re at scale 7 or 8 out of 10 if had to give it a score. So try this: imagine you’re a soldier about to go into battle. You just need to face this one foe; do it and then it’s over. Yes, you’ll feel all those familiar symptoms arising, but once you have faced a fear, something very strange happens: you start to feel a little high, a kind of tingling which can only be described as elation!
But relax, you don’t need to face all of your fears at once, which brings me on to point 2…
- Take small steps – you don’t need to charge into the car and drive a hundred miles on the freeway! Simply start by driving around the block. Take things slowly. And after each small step give yourself a pat on the back – you’ve just achieved something. Remember, a journey of a thousand miles, starts with a single step.
- Take a friend – sharing your troubles with a trusted friend can make all the difference. Take them on journeys with you when feeling stressed.
- Make it pleasurable – start associate driving with pleasurable experiences by driving to your favourite spot for a picnic, to the movies. Play your favourite music that gives you the greatest pleasure. Make your car a nice place to be.
- Use your imagination – before you go on a journey, close your eyes and picture yourself driving through a beautiful country scene. Try to feel everything. Look at the trees through the car window. Feel the steering wheel in your grip and smile as you look around. Breathe deeply whilst doing so and feel all your cares simply drifting away.
The trick is to catch the moment of fear before it runs away with you. Simply accept it and move on. It will start to dissipate faster and faster, the more you confront it. Don’t try to avoid stressful situations – embrace them!
Relaxation Techniques While Driving
- As you drive along, you may notice a lot of tension in your face, jaw, neck, and shoulders. Identify where you are feeling stress and make a conscious effort to slacken these muscles. Work your way down from the top of your head to your shoulders. You may need to repeat a few times until you feel it starting to take effect.
- Try squeezing and relaxing your hands on the wheel and repeat until you begin to feel calmer.
- When you’re feeling tense, you have a tendency to breathe shallowly, so make a conscious effort to breathe in slowly and deeply through your abdomen all the time. But keep it slow.
The only sure-fire way to stop panic attacks when driving is by confronting your fears and by constant practice. But the rewards are incredibly liberating.