Thursday, 28 June 2012

Driving Anxiety: How to cope when you're going over 100km/h!

We all know driving is dangerous, but we casually get into our cars and drive everyday without thinking more than once about safety - putting on our seatbelts, checking mirrors, and we're off to work, or school, etc.

Until you feel that sense of uneasiness welling up from your stomach, or the fog and pressure building in your head.... Maybe you feel too hot, or cold.... Maybe your vision starts blurring and you start sensing the worst.... And then you end up in a full-blown panic attack, speeding down the highway in a giant metal weapon.

Having panic attacks is extremely rough and having them while in control of a vehicle is monumentally worse.

I have some tips for those of you conquering this issue in your life right now:

1) Deep-breathing techniques

If you perform some deep-breathing you might find that your physiological response tones down enough that you can actually reduce the panic feeling and retreat from the edge of the full-blown panic attack.
If not, at least you will be able to calm yourself sufficiently to pull over.

2) Distracting yourself:
-by adding numbers on license plates you see
-really focusing on what other people in their cars are doing
-talking to yourself, or using a hands-free device to call your friends or parents (or if you are secretive about your panic, your local crisis line). Sometimes just talking with someone, about anything or your particular situation, is extremely helpful for distracting you from the physical or mental stimulation that was pushing your anxiety.

3) Have some snacks and water on hand. Eating a few bites of apple or some popcorn or veggies might help you to refocus yourself, while giving you a bit of nutrition.

4) Track your panic - see if you can find a root cause or causes. If it happens around the same time of day or on the same stretch of road, try to prepare yourself by knowing that it will likely be rough but because you have made it through before, you will again, and again. Gradually, through exposure, and pure Conqueror-spirit, you will be able to drive through those tough spots.

5) Are there other things in your life that you are ignoring or repressing? Relationship or school/work issues? These may be making themselves known in the form of panic attacks in stressful (ie: driving) situations. If you haven't already, talk to a close friend or relative about what's going on for you. If that doesn't help, or doesn't help sufficiently enough to reduce your anxiety, see your doctor or a local counselor.

6) Finally, if these practical approach tips aren't working for you, speak with a local counselor or your doctor about other ways you can manage your anxiety while driving. It may be helpful for you to try some herbal or pharmaceutical anti-anxiety medications.

While you are working out what methods will work the best for you, you can always take the bus on days when it just absolutely won't work for you to drive. Try to find a carpool for your work or school; this will allow you to be more productive on the way to and from work, as well.

Note: I do not advocate avoiding anxiety-triggers, as that will only compound the problem; however, I do advocate remaining safe while figuring out what is best for yourself in these hard times.
If it is for you to carpool or bus while you practice driving at night or on the weekends, then do so.

Be safe, stay calm and Conquer on!

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An engine for change... motivation for self-reflection and self-improvement

Welcome all to Conquer the Clouds.

I started this blog half a year ago with the intention of sharing ideas and coping strategies, information and other things regarding anxiety and depression, motivation and goal-setting and achievement.

I also began this blog with the intention of helping others along their paths of self-improvement and development. I have long since been interested in the psychology of thought and action, as well as the psychology of mental illness. I never really gave an introductory post for Conquer the Clouds because I was still trying to figure out what it was that I wanted to do with it. It is a learning hub, and an engine for change.

I would like to share some of my background and history with you, in order for you to understand CTC's birth a little better.

I remember when I was 8 years old, reading my mom's psychology textbook (she was taking a course at the time, if I recall correctly). I remember being fascinated by everything in it. In highschool, biology became my passion (I am sure if we had highschool level psychology courses, I would have been right onto it). And then in college and university I pursued biology with ferocity - only adding psychology into my life as electives and hobby-reading.

Coming up on a couple years after having graduated, I feel as though I have learned so many things about living, working and being human in our time and society...
My passions have evolved, some have shifted, some have become almost obsolete...

I realize though, that throughout all my experiences, I am not a collection of segmented memories. I am a fluid, ever-experiencing, ever-evolving, and growing person. Every new challenge, and every new failure changes me for the next.

I would like to work with you on your journeys as I take on my own, to find a place in ourselves where, while the world turns, we can remain strong and knowledgeable.

Learning is the ultimate strength. Knowledge is the tool to move us forward.

Take this challenge, to become the strongest you.

Conquer on!