How Therapy Can Help You Become A Safe Driver

Do you feel anxious over driving? Do you become easily angry when someone is moving slowly in front of you? Or perhaps you merely want to ensure you drive safely on the road? Whatever your motivation is, therapy can help you learn how to get better at navigating the road. 

Vehicles are deeply ingrained in our society. It’s nearly impossible to live without riding one now and then. Unfortunately, some people tend to take driving for granted because of how common it is. As such, road-related issues are often brushed aside and chalked up to bad luck. Even with thousands of accidents every year, the way people drive remains unaffected.

We need to change this culture of indifference. Driving entails a huge responsibility. After all, one mistake can cost someone’s life. This reason is more than enough to seek professional help so you can become a safer driver out on the road. Here are a few ways your therapist can help you reach that goal:

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Overcoming Driving Anxiety

It’s possible to develop anxiety over driving from a fear of enclosed spaces, speed, or accidents. However, life with these phobias can be inconvenient at best and debilitating at worst. So, you should seek professional help if you feel excessive and long-lasting nervousness when you’re in the driver’s seat. 

Your therapist can help you go through a series of processes to heal from your trauma if it’s the reason behind your anxiety. Therapy can also support you in overcoming the fears that stop you from being able to drive. However, it’s worth noting that therapists don’t only help people with traumatic experiences. You can seek their assistance even if you think your condition isn’t pressing. After all, therapy exists to help you feel better and enjoy the best quality of life. 

Preventing Road Rage

Road rage is the term used for aggressive behavior exhibited by drivers. It’s so frequent, to the point where many dismiss it and move on with their day. However, it’s dangerous because it can cause accidents, disputes, and even casualties.

When driving, you’re automatically responsible for your safety and those around you. You cannot uphold this task if you’re overly hostile. Often, aggressive drivers end up in accidents and arguments involving other motorists. Not only does this compromise the safety of everyone involved, but it also causes traffic jams.

Your therapist can help you understand and control your emotions to avoid bouts of rage. That way, you can rest assured that your mind is clear, especially when you’re driving. Road rage doesn’t benefit anyone, and it does nothing but harm. If you think you may be exhibiting that behavior, you may want to consider going to a therapist to work on it.

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Exercising Discipline

Driving on the road isn’t like maneuvering a bump car in the amusement park. You’re in charge of so many lives every time you sit behind the wheel.

As such, discipline is required to be a good driver. You should follow traffic laws without question. Slow down at the orange light, and stop at the red light. Be mindful of crossings and intersections, refrain from swerving and overtaking, and never exceed the speed limit. If you find yourself having trouble following any of those, you may want to see a therapist.

Therapy can help you build the discipline you need to become a safe driver. Remember, traffic rules are non-negotiable. You don’t have a choice but to follow them if you drive a vehicle. Responsibility and discipline are essential, and the lack of those may mean the loss of life.

Honing Focus

It would be challenging to drive safely if you often lose focus. Concentration is crucial in driving because you have to take note of so many things. That involves being mindful of other cars, changing lanes, flicking signals, and reading signs. If you can’t retain your focus, then you may be compromising the safety of your driving.

Don’t worry because your therapist can help you hone your focus to be able to drive safely. There are many activities in therapy that can increase your attention span and aid in sharpening your concentration. 

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Practicing Mindfulness

When driving, you must maintain a calm state of mind while being aware of multiple things at once. Usually, drivers develop a technique where flicking signals, shifting gear, and checking mirrors become instinctive. You may find these easy to do, especially if you’ve had your license for a long time. However, it doesn’t hurt to be a more mindful driver, which your therapist can help you with. 

Addressing Mental Health Conditions

If you’re often nervous, sleepy, distracted, or angry, a mental health condition may be behind it. Psychological and emotional issues manifest differently from person to person. In addition, symptoms like those don’t go away on their own. 

To pinpoint the cause of your symptoms, you can seek the help of mental health professional. They can determine whether you have depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other mental illnesses. These conditions don’t only affect your driving but also the overall quality of your life. So, don’t hesitate to contact a therapist near you whenever you deem necessary.

To Wrap Up

Driving is a serious task that requires you to be responsible for yourself, your passengers, and your fellow human beings on the road. It’s not just fun and games. If you want to become a safe driver, you may benefit from seeking professional help.

Your therapist can help you overcome your driving anxiety and assist you in preventing yourself from exhibiting road rage behavior. Therapy can also guide you through exercises that reinforce discipline, sharpen focus, and practice mindfulness. All of those factors are essential to becoming a safe driver.

In addition, your therapist can address any mental health conditions you might have that prevent you from driving safely. Therapy won’t just help you become a better driver. More than that, it will equip you with the tools you need to navigate life as a more well-rounded person. 

How Therapy Can Help You Overcome Driving Anxiety

Driving comes with serious responsibilities. With the possibility of accidents, getting stuck in traffic, and a host of other unforeseen circumstances, it’s common for driving to trigger panic and anxiety attacks in people. Sometimes, just the mere thought of getting behind the wheel can cause overwhelming feelings of panic and anxiety.

A panic or anxiety attack while driving is no doubt terrifying. Aside from the increased risk of accidents, a person may develop further mental health problems. However, with the right interventions, you can manage your driving anxiety. And pretty soon, you’ll be well on your way to zipping down the freeway.

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What Is Driving Anxiety?

Driving anxiety is the anxious or nervous feeling you get when you’re about to drive or while driving. The symptoms can range from mild discomfort to severe distress. You may either feel a bit tense while driving, or you might not even want to get in the driver’s seat at all. Symptoms of driving anxiety may include:

    • feeling unsafe or restless when driving
    • easily getting tired during or after a car trip
    • concentration problems while driving
    • feeling a sense of doom before driving
    • back and neck tension while driving
    • irrational fears about dying or causing an accident
    • tending to avoid the highway and busy streets
    • being irritable or short-tempered

These symptoms can be abrupt or grow steadily over time. Left untreated, it could cause panic attacks, which could lead to traffic accidents. Sweaty palms, excessive sweating, shaking, and shortness of breath are some symptoms signaling a panic attack. Furthermore, extreme avoidance cases could cause people to remain isolated in their homes.

What Causes Driving Anxiety?

There are many possible reasons for experiencing driving anxiety. It may stem from one reason or several reasons accumulated together. Some common causes include:

    • Fear Of Fatalities

Exercising caution while driving is essential. However, no matter how careful you are, accidents could still happen. In this case, fear of getting into an accident might cause people to feel panicked or anxious when driving. Constantly thinking about accidents only heightens distress, thus increasing the chances of getting into an accident.

    • Prior Vehicular Accidents

Whether you have personally been in an accident, witnessed an accident, or just heard stories from friends or family, these incidents can be traumatic and anxiety-provoking. PTSD can be a big contributing factor to driving anxiety. Driving in a storm and being a victim of road rage are also some reasons that might trigger driving anxiety. Dwelling on these stories or past experiences can cause distress in a person.

    • Specific Phobias

Agoraphobia is being fearful of open spaces and crowds. This fear might manifest when you’re driving on a highway or stuck in traffic. Meanwhile, claustrophobia or the fear of closed spaces might cause you to feel stuck or trapped inside your car, especially in the middle of traffic. More specifically, you may also have vehophobia or the fear of getting behind the wheel. 

    • Binocular Vision Dysfunction (BVD)

If driving anxiety is accompanied by dizziness or loss of balance, it might be a sign that you have BVD. This condition results in image misalignment wherein your eyes have difficulty working together to create one clear image. Because of its symptoms, it understandably may cause someone to be nervous when driving. If you suspect BVD to cause your driving anxiety, schedule an eye exam with an optometrist.

How Does Therapy Help Driving Anxiety?

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For people with BVD, a simple trip to the eye doctor could do the trick. For those whose mental and psychological problems, therapy is an effective way to manage and treat driving anxiety. Once physical and neurological reasons have been ruled out, there are two common therapy treatments for driving anxiety:

    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

The basic premise of CBT is that specific patterns of thoughts and behaviors contribute to anxiety. This method picks apart your negative thought processes and converts them into positive mindsets. It can change catastrophic worries about driving into better, more rational thoughts. Doing so reduces stress. 

Moreover, it could also help you develop adaptive coping skills, allowing you to have confidence while driving. To accomplish this, CBT explores your thoughts and emotions to pinpoint the exact cause behind your anxiety. It then interrupts and replaces unhelpful thought and behavior patterns through a series of methods. These include problem-solving tasks, teaching relaxation techniques, and reframing your thoughts. These methods help you better understand your anxiety, effectively control your emotions, and minimize symptoms.

Lastly, CBT can help you set realistic goals depending on if you’re pursuing long-term anxiety relief or short-term escape from anxiety.

    • Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy is often done with people who are exhibiting symptoms of avoidance. For example, people who refuse to get into a car or consciously avoid busy roads and traffic are good candidates for this modality. 

This type of intervention helps eliminate unwanted symptoms by placing patients in driving situations. Of course, this is done with the proper guidance and in moderation.

Even though you may be tempted to take bold steps to resolve your driving anxiety, it’s best to start with small exposure. It takes time and patience to manage anxiety in any form. By gradual exposure to more stressful aspects of driving anxiety, you will experience a temporary increase in distress. However, your anxiousness will decrease long-term. 

Expanding your comfort zone little by little is the key factor in exposure therapy. The basic premise is regaining a sense of control and building that until you are no longer plagued by distress. After multiple repetitions, anxiety and panic symptoms will eventually decrease and be more manageable. Through time, they could even disappear entirely.

In addition to psychotherapy options, your psychiatrist may also prescribe medications to help manage your symptoms. The goal of medicines would be to reduce the frequency and severity of anxiety or panic symptoms.

Overcoming Driving Anxiety

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Driving anxiety can interfere with your daily routine and affect other aspects of your life. But the good news is that it’s possible to learn how to change your mindset, manage your anxiety, and become comfortable driving. With proper guidance and therapy support, driving can become pleasantly routine again.