Much of defeating driving anxiety depends on your ability to calm down and be present. It’s no accident that my co-founder, Andrew Cunningham, is a clinical hypnotherapist; hypnosis for driving anxiety is a very effective technique for reprogramming your brain to see driving as a safe, non-threatening activity. Another way to overcome your driving fears is meditation for driving anxiety.
Meditation gets a bad rap because most people associate it with an extreme form of spirituality. But meditation also has numerous practical applications. The ability to relax and focus brings lots of physical benefits. Examples include lower blood pressure, less muscle tension, better sleep, and less anxiety.
Chronic anxiety is a state of hyper-activation of your fight or flight response. It’s a stress response that overreacts to things that aren’t really very threatening. Meditation desensitizes this hair-trigger response to stress.
How Does Meditation Work?
Meditation for any kind of anxiety disorder works by decreasing tension, increasing focus and awareness, and detaching from your anxious thoughts and emotions.
- You learn how to be calm — You didn’t become anxious overnight. It was a long process. Conversely, learning calmness is not an overnight process either. It takes time. But meditation is a practice that teaches your brain and body how to remain calm despite outside stressors.
- Meditation teaches you to identify tension — We’re often not even aware we’re tense. We’ve ceased to notice our tension because it’s been there for so long. Meditating teaches us how to identify our tension, both in the mind and in the body. Then we learn how to let go of it. This deepens relaxation and increases our mental focus.
- You become an observer of anxiety, rather than a reactor to it — One of the most powerful things I learned in DBT therapy was the concept of becoming the observer. Observing yourself allows you to step back from painful thoughts and emotions. This puts you in a position of control, rather than the position of simply being at the mercy of your thoughts and feelings.
- You learn to detach from anxious thoughts/emotions — Observing painful thoughts and feelings lets you slowly detach from them. It doesn’t necessarily make them stop, but it helps you turn the volume on them down. Decreasing the intensity of your anxiety gives you choices for how to deal with it more successfully.
Using Guided Meditation for Driving Anxiety
As I mentioned in the story about my driving anxiety, any kind of regular mediation will decrease driving anxiety over time.
That said, here are some videos you can use during meditation for driving anxiety. I’ve included some that are specifically for driving.
Meditation for driving anxiety has a cumulative effect. Like any type of meditation, the benefits accrue slowly over time the more you do it. Learning to be calm and detach yourself from anxiety is not an overnight process. You didn’t become scared of driving overnight, and you won’t learn to driving calmly overnight either. It’s a learned skill, which takes time. But trust me, it’s time well spent!