Driving on interstates can make anyone nervous, but when you have a fear of driving it is this anxiety can multiply by 10!
You Are Not Alone!
I too was once terrified to drive on interstates! I had my driver’s license for almost 9 years before I was able to do this without having a panic attack, so if you have this fear, you are not alone.
This fear held me back from many things that could have improved my life. One day I had to go to a job interview at the company’s main head quarters which was about 2 hours away from my location.
I did all I could to map out a course that would not take me on I-95 but on the way home I got lost and found myself merging into heavy interstate traffic during rush hour. I was terrified!
By the time I was able to find a place to pull off I was so sick with anxiety that I passed out in my car once I pulled over to the nearest gas station.
This experience just made it to where I was even more determined not to drive on interstates ever again!
Five years later, I found myself to be able to try to deal with this fear. With the help of my husband, I drove onto I-40. It was late at night so the highway was devoid of other vehicles except a lone car here and there.
There I was, a death grip on the wheel, driving down the interstate. How did I do it? I was able to calm myself with therapeutic exercises.
Today, I can drive on interstates without feeling scared and out of control. My anxiety did not go away completely though.
I still have my moments and if traffic is heavy I am a wreck but for the most part, I can drive on an interstate with little problem.
How I Overcame My Interstate Anxiety
It may seem amazing to overcome such a fear but it can be done and I am living proof! How did I accomplish this seemingly impossible feat?
I applied some simple methods that helped me calm myself and they worked! The trick is, you have to want them to work and be prepared to face this fear head on.
Here are some tips to begin with before you venture out to the open road:
✔ Begin when traffic is most likely to be light. You don’t want to jump right in with a heavy flow of traffic. This can make it impossible to focus.
✔ Take someone you trust with you. (a parent, friend, sibling, or spouse) This can help ease your own tension.
✔ Only do what you are comfortable with. If everyone around you is running 70mph and you are frightened to go above 60 then don’t do it.
✔ Keep in your mind that you can pull off at any time (but only at safe places!)
The first tip is self explanatory. Traffic for beginners=bad!
The second tip is how I really was able to take that first step! Having an extra pair of eyes looking out for you is an excellent idea! The first few times, my husband would watch everything with me so I would have no doubt about our safety.
The real problem for me was that I had no confidence in my ability to do this task. And even now detest driving on the interstate alone and try to avoid it when possible. I still have whomever is with me look for me as I merge off the ramps and help to read the signs.
The third tip is also one I still follow. I used to feel scared and uncomfortable at the thought of holding up other drivers with my speed but now I realize that it does not matter. I do not know them but I do know myself and it is my job alone to keep safe and comfortable.
If traffic gets too heavy I pull over at the next exit ramp and either find another way to my destination or just wait a bit till the traffic slows down a bit.
The point is though, that I can do all of this without having an anxiety attack!
What Calming Techniques Can I Employ During Interstate Driving?
While the above mentioned tips helped me tremendously, I still needed more to overcome my fear to the point where I could drive on the interstate without high anxiety.
There are certain calming exercises that can be done from your car that can help to keep you calm and focused:
✔ Take a deep breath. This may sound cliché but it is certainly helpful.
✔ Count. Not just to ten but until you can feel the weight lifting.
✔ Listen to a CD. This can be calming music or a self-help CD
✔ Have a one on one chat…with YOURSELF. Talking yourself thought a stressful situation can be a big calmer.
Deep breathing can be soothing in any situation in which you experience anxiety. A few deep breaths can help to slow your heart rate and put you in back in focus.
Counting can also be useful. It does not matter what number you reach. The repetitiveness of the activity is what is important. By doing this you are focusing your energy and again, slowing your heart rate while decreasing anxiety.
For some people, music is a healing therapy. Make sure it is something that is soothing to your senses and allows you to feel comfortable and safe.
Playing self- help Cd’s that are meant specifically for your fear of interstate driving are highly recommended if you need calm and support.
Lastly, talk with yourself about what you are doing. Sometimes, when we talk ourselves through a problem or fear, we can not only calm ourselves but can figure out why we feel the way we do. You know you best so who better to have this chat with?
If you are fearful of interstate driving and do not get help you are limiting yourself. This is not healthy.
Try the tips mentioned above. Especially try to keep a self-help CD in the car at all times such as The Driving Fear Program.
This little round disc can be a lifesaver and you can take it with you anywhere. If you do not have a CD player in your car, or the car you are driving, take along a personal disc player.
Taking this step will open up a whole new world for you and once you overcome this fear you will be wondering why you wasted so much time on it in the first place!