Driving & Anxiety

drivinganxietyToday I wanted to talk about something a little different, and something that I’ve dealt with for the past several years. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it here on the blog, but ever since I learned how to drive, driving has more or less terrified me. I got my license as an 18 year old, but hated driving so much that I managed to avoid it most of the time. In college I lived in a small town where most things were in walking distance, and when they weren’t I had friends who were willing to take me places. The thing that I think always scared me in regards to driving is the aspect of control. The feeling that I’m responsible for keeping myself and other people safe is not one that I enjoy, especially when it seems that mistakes can be made so easily.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more and more uncomfortable with having to rely on other people to be my transportation, and a couple of months ago I decided it was time to stop letting my fear control how I lived my life, because that’s what it had turned in to. To get myself back behind the wheel, I had to take control of my thoughts. I recently listened to a podcast that resonated with me in which one of the speakers said that it was important to actually be aware of what you are thinking and your thought processes. This is a great first step to controlling them instead of letting them control you. I started to notice that when I thought about myself driving at all, I only thought of potential catastrophes, not potential successes. I also noticed that when my plans to practice driving fell through for some reason, I felt relieved that I didn’t have to take a risk, rather than disappointed that I didn’t have a chance to learn something.

I’m so happy to say that I’ve actually started to make progress, and that this past week I’ve driven more than I have since I was practicing for my driving test five years ago. Each time I go out on the road, it gets a little easier, and I get a little more confident. I’ve had to implement a few strategies to help myself move forward, and I thought I’d share those with you all today.

I’ve been working on replacing my negative thoughts with positive thoughts. Every time I think about something bad potentially happening, I make myself go through the process of thinking about driving to a location safely. This helps to balance out the fear with confidence.

I’ve also been working on consistency in driving. This means I’m driving at least a few times a week because the more I can practice, the better I will get and the more comfortable I will be.

Finally, I’ve been trying to make my car a peaceful place. For me, this means making it a good temperature and playing the classical music station in the background. I also use stoplights as an opportunity so breathe and calm down.

The truth is something bad could happen no matter what I’m doing, even if I lock myself inside and never go anywhere, and I’m glad that I’m finally starting to move past something that’s been inhibiting me.

I don’t know if this post will be relatable to anyone who reads my blog, but it’s something I’ve been dealing with, and thankfully overcoming, so I wanted to share it with you. I’ll be sure to report back on my progress in the future!

Have you dealt with specific fears or anxieties? What were some ways you overcame them? I’d love to hear!

7 thoughts on “Driving & Anxiety

  1. I got my permit at 16, but my license at nearly 20 (my two years younger sister got her license before I did). I had to learn manual shift shortly after. I still often chose traffic light roads rather than highways, and I am not sure if I will ever drive downtown. I prefer to be the passenger, even for my 18 year old sister. My other family members prefer I don’t drive either because I am easily distracted :/. Some of my fear is related to directions and my inability to easily figure out (i.e. not panic) directions when I am lost. I combat this by looking up directions and using my phone gps. I like to use the satellite on google maps and zoom close to get a visual bearing which makes a massive difference in my confidence.

  2. it is SO relatable to me. driving is one of the areas where my anxiety comes out the strongest. when i’m on a quiet road by myself i’m fine. but as soon as other cars show up i start feeling out of control. i can’t assume i can trust them to drive responsibility and the pressure of being aware that i might need to make up for their mistakes can freak me out. especially with rosamund in the back seat. ugh. but thank you for sharing your strategies. i’ll have to try to incorporate some of them into my life.

  3. Didn’t get my license until I was barely 23. Anxiety stuff and just feeling like everyone else had it come so easily. I too got to the point where I didn’t like relying on rides. I also realized that other people needed my help with driving. I failed my first test for going 10 miles too slow. It was right before Christmas eve, I waited through the Christmas celebrations and rushed over to MVD to take it again the day before New Years. I had to get it before another year passed. By God’s grace I passed. I still don’t do highways but driving is more comfortable. Congrats to you! And every time you drive, now that it is success. God Bless You!

  4. Way to go, Lauren! I think talking about it on here was probably as courageous as getting behind the wheel! ???? Those are excellent steps to take to get past the mind game of battling fear. Proud of you, friend! Now that you’re becoming an expert driver, you and Brynna can take another road trip and come see me! ???? Seriously though, come enjoy summer up north!

    By the way, LOVE your new tea set!! ????

    1. Thank you so much friend! I really appreciate your kind words– and yes, I definitely want to come visit you sometime! I need to experience more of the north, and of course see you!
      Also, next time you’re in Little Rock, I’ll make you tea in the new tea set! 🙂
      Hope all is well with you!

  5. Oh this is awesome! I never wanted my license, but my parents didn’t understand or identify. I ended up getting it and doing OK for the most part. There were a few times when there were “close calls” but not too much. But I also never drove on more than 2 lane hwys. My husband and i work in the same place and tend to go most places together so I rarely drive. When I do around my city I am ok. It’s small and suburban and I know how to get almost everywhere… but I am still terrified of driving to nearby cities or on road trips etc. I definitely need to practice, but it seems so different than driving at home, lower speeds, where I know where to go, etc. I should definitely start taking steps toward trying though. It doesn’t need to be something that remains a bother for me. It’s great to read your tips, and strategies. I hope things keep going well for you. Maybe I will find some ways to start small too. 🙂 Thank you for sharing!! XO – Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

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