Driving Anxiety || How To Get Through It

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

I am now the proud owner of a full driving license but this was not an easy item for me to come by, or even something I wanted for a very long time.  My anxious personality hit me hard when it came to the test and I tried every trick in the book to help me.  I finally figured out what worked for me to calm my nerves and here is how I did it.

Driving was never a life passage I was eager to go down. I was happy getting a bus, living in a city and not needing it. In fact I put it off for years until it came to a point that driving became a necessary skill for me to learn, I would have been stranded otherwise. Eventually with some persuading I bought a car, got some lessons and thought passing the driving test would simply follow.  Three failed attempts later and three years on I was drained and dejected. I would prepare weeks in advance for the test, get on great with my driving instructor and feel confident about the end result but on the day it would be a different story. Once the tester would sit into the car my brain would go blank and I would drive like a completely different person.  Each time I would go back, get more lessons, and keep practicing but each time was the same result. My final failed attempt was even worse than the previous times before, with me abandoning my car before the test had even finished. I knew my failing wasn’t because I was unprepared or being an incapable driver, it was purely nerves and stress on my system that was holding me back and I didn’t know how to deal with it.  I went to friends and family and was told to “just relax” or “take something” but that is easier said than done. I needed to figure out what worked for me. 

Getting through my last test took some hard work and a different way of thinking but following the advice below is what helped me get through it and FINALLY pass.  

  • Be self-aware and breath – Breathing and counting really helped me during my test. I got in the habit of counting “I,2,3,4” while doing my lessons and it stuck with me. Not only did it help me focus, it also helped me to slow down and take my time with the tasks I was being asked. I know during a test all you want is for it to be over but rushing makes it more likely for something to go wrong. 
  • Try hypnotherapy – So many people were skeptical of me when I said I was using hypnotherapy for driving, especially when they heard the cheesy affirmations on the audio. Two weeks prior to my test I would listen to the tape before bed and I honestly think on the day of the test it really worked for me, as I had no nerves at all and not a drug in sight. You can buy the audio on Amazon, and as much as you will chuckle when you first hear it I swear by it, thank you Glen Harrold.  
  • Do a pretest – If your driving instructor doesn’t offer you a pretest, just ask. If you haven’t done the test before it is a great way to get to know what you will be in for. Also in a lesson you can get in a habit of chatting to the instructor or they can have a tendency to tell you what to do too often. With a pretest it gives you the chance to get used to someone silently watching your driving in the car and you having to ignore it. 
  • Have a “Power” song – Personally mine was Let it Go from Frozen and I would blast it in my car when driving alone and listened to the night before my test.  Even if you don’t want a song just standing in front of a mirror in the Superman pose (it's a thing!) will subconsciously fill you with confidence, or at least put a smile on your face.
  • Talk to someone – I recommend definitely talking to your instructor about your test anxiety, as they should be able to help you with previous experience they have.  Also don’t be afraid to talk to the tester on the day. At the end the day they are just people, even if it took me a while to get to that realization. If you fail, talk to them after the test to get feedback and you can improve for your next test. The best thing I did before my final test was actually tell the tester before we started about my anxiety with driving tests. It was actually a great way to break the ice before we started and kept me relaxed for the rest of the test and in the end I passed!
Some of these steps seem a bit silly but they were a big help to me, so I hope if you are about to undertake your driving test some might be of help to you.  And if you fail don’t worry! If you keep trying you’ll get there in the end. Like me it took a few goes but the feeling of passing in the end was amazing! Good Luck! 

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