Any Tips for a Nervous Driver?

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Any Tips for a Nervous Driver?

Post by randomgrapes » Fri Nov 10, 2017 4:09 pm

Hi everyone! I'm looking for a little advice, if anyone has any tips for how to overcome being a really nervous driver?

A little background: I actually learnt to drive 5 years ago at 18 years old, took my test, and failed. That was a week before I moved away to uni, and I just never had the money or the inclination to start again! I never enjoyed driving back then, I would cancel my lessons for all kinds of flimsy reasons, and just basically dreaded it the whole time. Now I'm back driving again (got my second lesson tonight!) and I'm getting all those same feelings again!

I don't actually have a good reason for being nervous, I've never been in a bad car accident, nothing bad has ever really happened to me while driving. I can't really pinpoint WHY I'm nervous, I just am! It doesn't help that my new instructor's car feels massive. She tells me it's not any wider than a normal car, but I feel like I'm jutting out into the road! So much so that I frequently overcompensated and she had to grab the wheel several times to stop me hitting the kerb. Other than that I seem to be doing fine, I didn't stall or make any major mistakes.

I try my best to not be nervous, my main tactic is to remind myself that regardless of how nervous I am, I have to get the lesson over and done with, so I may as well just get on with it! Not sure how helpful it really is. When I'm driving I do better, especially the latter half of the lesson. My driving instructor even said I'm a "good little driver"! So it really feels like I have no reason to feel so nervous, but I can't help it! Every time I think about my driving lesson I get a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach, and I get butterflies.

So I guess my question is mainly: have any of you ever felt like this about driving? And if you have, do you have any tips or tricks for how to overcome it?

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Re: Any Tips for a Nervous Driver?

Post by astra » Sat Nov 11, 2017 5:03 pm

I've never felt like that but I do work with a lot of people who feel anxious after a road accident. Without assessing you and formulating the problem I can't really help you specifically. The usual treatment when this follows an accident is to learn some mindfulness and relaxation strategies, process the accident using EMDR, and work on building up confidence through Practice, Practice and more Practice (Graded Exposure). So I guess skipping the accident related bit, you may benefit from working on relaxation and mindfulness, and build up confidence by doing a lot of driving. You could possibly benefit from a few sessions with an EMDR therapist even though you've not been in an accident, because as well as being good for trauma, EMDR is great for phobias and anxiety.
From the point of view of mindfulness, as long as you're breathing there's more right with you than wrong with you. Jon Kabat-Zinn

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Re: Any Tips for a Nervous Driver?

Post by noodle » Mon Nov 13, 2017 8:11 pm

I think if it's only your second lesson after a 5 year break, it's understandable that you're feeling nervous or anxious. Learning to drive is quite a big deal! Similarly to you I had lessons before uni, but managed to pass, but I had no car or insurance so didn't manage to drive again until 3 years later. Despite having passed my test it took a good number of hours of practising with my husband in the car (and several arguments :lol: ) before I felt confident enough to go it alone! Once I had the opportunity the gain a bit of confidence I was fine.

My advice would be to just have as many lessons as you can to practise and gain more confidence. Perhaps putting too much pressure on yourself to not be anxious is making you more anxious? The fact that you are improving towards the end of the lesson is good evidence that a bit of habituation is all that's needed 8)

Good luck!

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Re: Any Tips for a Nervous Driver?

Post by CellarDoor » Wed Nov 15, 2017 8:00 pm

I was petrified when I first learnt to drive - put off motorways for a year or so then had to dive in as commute involved them. From a CBT perspective - and I'm not very CBT inclined at all (but there is some truth in it, sometimes ;)) - I just had to jump in to it, the only way to get through the fear was by driving, and lots of it. I had a full blown panic attack alone in the car on a motorway the first time I went on one alone, palms were sweating for the entire journey, I'm talking steering wheel drenched with sweat. I ached all the way down my right side from the stress from tensing my body the whole way, cried for a lot of it, and had to keep talking to myself the whole way to say it was fine, I would be okay (and this was going at 50). Did it a few more times, then a few more, and it became sooo much easier. Nowadays I am probably a bit too relaxed. You will get there, but unfortunately (or fortunately? It's a simple approach I guess) the only way to get through the fear or nerves is to go through it/them. And as you say you are learning - a good instructor that totally understand and has patience for nerves, is key. (They will also make you go through the fear).

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Re: Any Tips for a Nervous Driver?

Post by miriam » Sun Nov 19, 2017 12:38 am

Sounds like a good opportunity to practise some CBT skills for anxiety to me!

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