Hello everyone, and thank you for joining me for a new blog!
I recently asked you on twitter which blog you would like to see next, and you decided upon the ‘learning to drive with anxiety’ blog. Personally, I was always very excited to start learning to drive, and so I decided to start the minute I turned 17, but it was a very nerve-racking experience. My main aim of publishing this blog, is to ease the anxiety of driving and to make it a more exciting for you personally. I will be going through the anxiety of both the theoretical and practical sides of driving, to ensure that you are as anxiety free as I can possible assist you to be.
Of course, learning to drive is a very daunting and intimidating process for anyone, so it’s that little bit worse when you have to deal with anxiety. Many worries will run through your head, and there will be that little voice pushing you to quit, but you mustn’t. To make sure that voice in your head is silenced and the thoughts flooding your mind are positive, I am going to provide you with some very assisting tips and methods. So, lets begin!
The Theory Test
First things first, before you take your practical test, your first obstacle is your theory test. With the theory test your can take it as soon as you’re 17, even if you have no practical driving experience. I always recommend that you book and attempt the theory test as soon as you possible can, so that you don’t keep pushing the date further and further away until the pressure is so built up you don’t want to do it!
- Your approach to the environment – The theory test room isn’t as daunting as everyone makes it out to be, in fact its just you, a computer and a set of headphones, quite relaxing actually! Normally, you will be placed into your own little booth, which will be segregated from other peoples by a panel (to avoid cheating). So straight away you can imagine the room to be empty with just you, which will eliminate the social anxiety. Imagine you’re at home on your computer just doing a practise test. Once you have your headphones plugged in, you won’t be able to hear anything which also relaxes you greatly. You must not think about where you are, and like I said, just treat it like your at home doing a practise test. Given the environment it’s very easy to make yourself comfy and relaxed.
- Bring a nice cold bottle of water – No matter what, I also bring a cold bottle of water to exams/tests. Just so if I start to get hot and bothered, I can simply sit back, take a deep breath and have a sip of water. This will calm you down, and get rid of any nausea or butterflies your anxiety may be giving you.
- Your attitude – The attitude you carry into the exam, will really effect the way you are feeling both building up to and during the test. I went into the exam with the attitude of, if I fail I can always do it again. And this is KEY to remember. If your fail it’s not the end of the world, you can retake, in fact you can retake it as many times as you possible want! Don’t add the pressure to yourself of having to pass ‘first time’. It’s irrelevant, everyone develops and learns at their own pace, so don’t compare yourself to others.
- Keep it a secret – In my opinion, the worst thing you can possibly do is to tell your friends when your test is. It just adds more pressure to pass, because you know you will have to tell them if you fail or not. If you go without saying anything then nothing Will be said. Of course tell your family, but no more, it will reduce pressure dramatically because you won’t have to face the music if it’s not so good news. But it’s also essential to remember that it is okay not to pass first time.
Learning to drive practically
So, after getting the dreaded theory test out of the way, your next hurdle will be actually driving a car. At first, you will be completely out of your comfort zone and this is more than normal. However, the trick is to learn how to deal with feeling this way, and not letting it effect how your’e driving, and how you feel through this exciting experience.
The first set of tips I will be giving you, are tips that will benefit you mainly on your first couple of lessons when it’s all very new and you’re not too sure how to handle the situation. After that I will aim the tips for your test day.
For your first couple of lessons;
- Treat your instructor as a friend – So, many people (including myself), create some horrific image of your instructor being a mean and scary person. You couldn’t be more wrong. Your instructor will become your friend on the road, and will keep you calm and collective. Letting your instructor know how anxious you are often helps, as they will offer more support and help to you. Speaking throughout your lesson, and treating your instructor like a friend will ease the pressure and distract your mind from all the negative thoughts. This one method really helped me greatly, and made the whole process much more pleasant.
- Become aware of your surroundings – When driving, you naturally concentrate on your surroundings, and every single thing around you so you stay safe in the car. By doing this, you will be distracted from thinking about the bad things your brain would usually think, and in turn feel less anxious. Also, when you’re concentrating time flies, and I came to learn with my lessons that the driving time comes and goes extremely quickly.
- Take deep breaths, and tap your finger – This method is more for the unexpected anxiety moment. If all of a sudden you feel anxious, just take some deep breaths and tap your finger on anything, whether that be the steering wheel or the gear stick, whatever is convenient. Tap at a nice steady pace to slow your heart rate and keep you calm. This always worked for me!
As for your test, I have only one piece of advice, and that is to just act like it’s a normal lesson. Don’t stress, and just go to show the examiner what you can do. Using all the tips above will also become relevant during the test too. And if you make one mistake just write it down on paper in your head, scrunch it up and throw it away. Remain focussed, and remember you DON’T have to pass first time!
This brings my blog to an end. I can’t stress enough how exciting driving is, and how much freedom it will introduce to your life. So, treat the whole experience as a positive thing and you will be more than fine. I hope this blog has been beneficial to your or someone you know, and I wish you the best of luck if you are in the process of learning to drive! Thank you, once again for the continuous support, and please feel free to leave your feedback below!