To anyone who understands the fear driving anxiety causes, know this: Millions of people overcome their freeway phobia each year and you can too.
In fact, just reading this article puts you one step closer to getting back on the freeway. And one step closer to enjoying driving again.
Before you explore these 7 proven, anxiety-busting techniques, let’s be clear about one thing: Simply reading this article is going to put you ahead of most other people coping with this condition, but it’s not going to instantly fix your anxiety. There is no instant fix to freeway phobia, or any phobia.
To regulate your anxiety, you need to find the recovery method which best works for you. Then you need to keep working at it.
Here’s some handy pointers to help ease feelings of anxiety next time you find yourself behind the wheel on the freeway:
1. Hire a Driving Instructor
You’d be amazed how many people are scared of driving on the freeway due to insufficient driving skills.
Having a kind, patient driving instructor in the passenger’s seat is going to make you feel more confident.
A driving instructor will verbally “navigate the road” as you drive. That means the instructor talks about what they see unfolding in front of them, including any potential dangers. This assistance leaves you free to concentrate fully on driving.
Many people find that hearing a professional “navigate the road” is a calming experience in and of itself.
A few sessions with your instructor might be enough to get you past your anxiety about freeway driving.
2. Take One Step at a Time With Exposure Therapy
Exposure therapy is all about overcoming a phobia by facing it one small step at a time.
The idea is to cure your fear by acclimating yourself to it very slowly.
Those with very bad driving anxiety might start by simply sitting in their car five minutes every day. Then progress to sitting in the car while it’s running five minutes a day. Then to driving around a little in an area with no other cars around.
I’m sure you see the progression I’m getting at. You’d eventually be able to do short drives on the freeway.
Before you know it, you’ll be back out on there without it seeming like such a big deal.
3) The Brutal Truth Method: Naming Your Fears
Have you ever noticed how someone else’s fears can sound silly?
A person you know might go through the roof if they see a spider. Meanwhile, you point and laugh and say, “But it’s just a spider.”
Well, that’s how the brutal truth method works, only you don’t need to have anyone laugh at you for it to be effective.
Truthfully sharing your fears with another person can feel like having a burden lifted from your shoulders. And you get the benefit of their outside perspective. But it has to be someone you can trust.
If you don’t have anyone to do that with, or just don’t feel comfy with the idea, write down or voice-record what scares you.
When it comes to saying what your fear of driving on the freeway is, don’t hold back and just let it all out. Be as specific as you can.
- Is a past negative driving experience haunting you?
- Do you fear you’re going to be in a crash?
- Do you get most scared when you’re outside of your driving comfort zone?
- Does the freeway just feel like too much?
- Do you fear causing a fatality?
If you can nail down what your specific fear is, you can get the right type of specific treatment to help you.
4. Try Simple Meditation
Finding new ways to relax might seem too simple, or you may think you just don’t have time during your day for anything else.
Well, anyone you seek help from will say the same thing: “Spend more time relaxing.”
And meditation is one of the most effective ways to unwind, focus and relax.
You don’t need to spend any money or leave your house to get the benefits of meditation.
You will find thousands of free meditation recordings on YouTube. Most of them are neatly categorized, so search for anxiety busting meditation videos.
Kick back, relax and let the healing powers of a meditative trance wash over your body.
5. Use Positive Affirmations to Get You Through Crisis Moments
Say the following out loud when you feel freeway anxiety creeping up on you…
- My feelings are normal and in ten minutes I will feel fine and wonder what all the fuss was about.
- Anxiety cannot hurt me. It’s not dangerous. It’s uncomfortable, yes, but it cannot hurt me.
- Right now I have some feelings I don’t like. They will pass shortly and I will feel okay again.
- I have dealt with negative thoughts before and I can deal with them again.
- What I am feeling will pass shortly.
While these are just words, don’t underestimate the power of using strong positive statements to help crush the anxiety preventing you from driving on the freeway.
6. Consider Hypnosis as a Potential Anxiety Buster
Hypnosis works for some people and it doesn’t for others. As I said earlier, you need to find what works for you and then do more of it.
Some people think hypnosis is mumbo-jumbo the same way other people think meditation is silly. That said, only 5% of people hypnotized responded to absolutely none of the suggestions made,showing it’s typically at least moderately successful for most people.
And that’s what you want at the end of the day, just to slip into your car without your legs starting to spasm at the thought of hitting the freeway.
7. Just Go Do it Until it Feels Okay
This one is radical, but it can work.
Just sit behind the wheel and drive briskly (within the speed limit) while focusing on feeling comfortable, happy, and free. After all, that’s what driving is really about, the freedom to go anywhere you want, any time you want.
Sometimes, just getting out and hitting the road is an incredibly freeing thing. It’s a wonderful feeling that everyone should get to experience.
Finding the recovery method that works best for you is a process of trial and error. It’s a process of experimentation. Think of it as slowly building a tool box one tool at a time.
Millions every year conquer their freeway phobia using the methods above. With a little time and experimentation, you can too.
Greg is the creator of Driving Peace, an an easy-to-use program of very simple techniques to end driving anxiety.