As summer rolls on, many of us are getting out of quarantine and wanting to hit the road to go camping, traveling to see family, or just driving to get out!
Panic attacks are a very debilitating experience. But, they can be especially overwhelming when you happen to be behind the wheel.
It’s normal to feel some anxiety while driving. In fact, many drivers wind up having a panic attack at some point during their driving career. Unfortunately, the symptoms of the condition can make driving even more difficult and potentially dangerous. That being said, please follow these steps to manage anxiety and keep your cool while driving.
Turn Up the Radio
Give yourself something to focus on other than the stresses of maneuvering your vehicle. The easiest way to do this is to listen to the radio or a music streaming service. You might even want to try an audio book. But, whatever you choose to listen to, make sure it isn’t too loud or distracting. You don’t want to take too much of your attention off of the road. Doing so can lead to a whole new set of difficulties.
Driving safely is a sure way to reduce driving stress. When you drive aggressively or break the rules of the road, you have to worry about causing an accident or being arrested, in addition to the other complications of driving.
Also, if you’re not great with directions, make sure you have a GPS at your disposal. That way, you won’t have to worry about navigational abilities. If you currently don’t use a GPS device, you really don’t know what you’re missing!
Keep Breathing Under Control
During a panic attack, people often take quick, shallow breaths because they feel like they aren’t getting enough air. But, hyperventilating like this can actually make anxiety symptoms worse.
The best thing to do is to focus on slowing down your breathing. Breathing deep from your diaphragm helps as well. Count to five as you breathe in, hold your breath for three seconds, then breathe out as you count to five. Typically, the sooner you get your breathing under control, the sooner the attack will begin to dissipate.
Pull Over (If Necessary)
While panic attacks can be scary, the feeling should pass within five minutes or so. (Remember, these attacks generally don’t last longer than ten minutes tops.) But, if you feel too anxious to drive, you should pull over to the side of the road. An even better option might be stopping at a rest area or fast food restaurant. Grabbing a bite to eat or a cold drink might help to calm you down a little.
The more often you drive, the more comfortable you will feel behind the wheel. Try to drive a little bit every day. Stick to roads and areas you’re familiar with while you practice. If you drive often enough, many of the things you have to do will become second nature, which will probably reduce the driving-related anxiety you may feel.
Although you can’t completely eliminate the possibility of having a panic attack when you’re on the road, these things are sure to aid you in reducing the chance. Remember, you only live once. You need to explore the world, while you can.