Are you feeling anxious about learning to drive? Or are you already having lessons and feel anxious before getting in the car?
Driving anxiety is a common concern for many of our students. There are many reasons for feeling anxious about driving. For some it is a fear of failure, or the result of a previous bad experience, or just the fear of the unknown. Over the many years that we have been teaching students to drive, we have come up with lots of ways to help. The following are some of our top tips. Watch out for our blogs over the next few weeks as we expand on each tip and give you more practical ways to help.
Top tips for reducing anxiety about learning to drive:
- Choose the perfect instructor: Not all instructors are the same and it can be very hard to know who to choose. We suggest meeting, or at least talking to, a few instructors and asking them how they can help with your anxiety about starting driving lessons.
- Talk to your instructor: We can only help if we know what is happening for you. Communicate how you are feeling rather than put a brave face on it and suffer in silence. If you have chosen the right instructor you will get lots of support.
- Positive thinking: Anxiety feeds on imagination. If you are picturing it all going wrong then your mind will believe that is what will happen. Picture how it will feel when it goes right. Picture your instructor supporting you while you make mistakes and keeping you safe until you can do it yourself.
- Make time for it: You are here, you have time to focus on this learning task and everything else can wait for an hour. Give it your full attention and have a mental break from everything else. You will take more in and feel more positive about the lesson.
- Baby steps: See it as small steps to the goal rather than the whole daunting task. Learning to drive can seem like a huge amount of multitasking to master, knowledge to learn and tests to pass. Just take one lesson at a time. Focus on mastering that one thing. Before you know it all of those little achievements add up and you are making progress to your goal.
- Ignore pressure to learn quickly: Pressure from friends, family and colleagues very often contributes to anxiety in driving lessons. Students feel they are not learning quickly enough because “everyone” tells them that they learned in 10hours or keeps asking when the test is. All students learn at different paces but, if you are concerned, discuss it with your instructor.
- Ignore pressure from other road users: Very often students feel intimidated by other road users and that makes them anxious about going too slow or making mistakes. This often just means their focus is on the anxiety rather than on mastering the skills and they end up making more mistakes. Let your instructor worry about whether or not you are causing any problems to others and just focus on what you need to do.
- Become the perfect learner rather than the perfect driver: Making a mistake can often send anxious pupils into meltdown because they have such a strong desire to be perfect. The learning process means you will make mistakes. Rather than worry about the mistake, focus on the solution. Become perfect at using a mistake to work out what happened, why it happened and how you can correct it.
- Wellbeing: are you hydrated, had enough sleep, not hungry, had a short break from work/college/life to put yourself in the right frame of mind? All these things can affect how we process information. The more alert you feel the easier everything will feel the less anxiety you will feel.