Driving is a daily necessity, and it’s an integral part of our lives. It can be a frightful experience, especially if you’ve been in an accident and are still feeling anxious.
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It can seem like you’ll never be able to drive again after being involved in an accident that left you feeling shaken up for days or weeks afterward. However, there are steps that can help comfort your anxiety. Here are some tips on how to get over driving anxiety after an accident.
Refresh your memory
Take a few moments to relive the accident in your mind. You don’t have to do this for very long. Just enough so you can remember the steps leading up to the accident, what happened during the accident, and how it ended.
As you are recalling what happened prior to the collision, remind yourself of how quickly things could have turned out much worse. If you continue to dwell on this too long, then try meditating on things that make you feel safe or happy.
Before you get back into the driver’s seat try revisiting the accident itself. Remember what happened and how it made you feel. Was there anything that either caused or exacerbated your anxiety? If so, try and pinpoint why this was so and reflect on it in order to keep yourself from having these feelings again in the future. It may not be easy to do, but it does help you to move on when you understand what caused your reaction in the first place.
Get help from a professional
Get professional help if you feel that you’re not coping with the situation. There are many approaches you can use to manage your anxiety. For example, you can join a self-help group or talk to a therapist about your concerns.
Don’t be quick to give up hope though, as there are steps that can help decrease or even eliminate it altogether. The more anxious you are about driving again the more likely it is that the feelings will continue to plague you every time you set out for a drive after an accident.
Being in an accident comes with lots of feelings that can be difficult to cope with especially if they are not dealt with at the time of the accident. It’s good to get professional help so that you can talk about your experiences and deal with them in a constructive way.
Talk to friends and family
Sometimes we tend to lose sight of reality when we get too emotionally involved in a situation. This can be especially true if it seems like there may be little that we can do to recover from the accident and that we may never drive again after this one.
Talking about our experiences can help us deal with them in a more productive way. It can also help to get a second opinion from a friend or family member who isn’t emotionally invested in the situation. This person can give you honest feedback without the same emotional investment which spurs you to make decisions about your own well-being.
Start going for quiet rides
You don’t have to drive on a crowded road or feel as if you have to be on alert for people or cars that may approach your car. Instead, try going for quiet rides. Drive around the neighbourhood and listen to some music as well as putting your thoughts aside for a while. This way it will increase the chances of you feeling more relaxed as you drive around and accept yourself more fully.
You may not want to go for a ride if it involves driving but giving yourself the chance to do so can make you feel better, especially when it’s very nerve-wracking. Start with something low-key, like the grocery store. This will help you to feel comfortable around other drivers, which can help alleviate your anxiety about driving again.
It’s important to remember that when you drive after an accident it is easy for anxiety to build up because there are lots of distractions with many potential dangers cropping up in every turn and corner of the road.
Whether it’s other cars, pedestrians, or animals crossing the road, you suddenly find yourself worrying about everything that could go wrong around you. These distractions take up a lot of mental energy and might make the process of getting back on the road even more difficult than at first glance. The highly stressful situation of reading through these distractions can continue to trigger your anxiety.
Driving is supposed to be a relaxing experience, so you should try to eliminate as many distractions as possible. If you’re not at the wheel then you don’t have to worry about driving in a busy area or dealing with other traffic. You can also try driving when the sun is out and there are few other cars on the road.
Listen to some motivational music
Music can be your best companion when it comes to driving. Try putting some inspiring music on or videos that you find motivating then begin to drive.
Music helps to inspire you and reinforce the belief that you will get over this anxiety. It will help take your mind off the accident and allow you to look at things in a different way.
The more you go out for these drives, the more comfortable you’ll feel behind the wheel again so don’t be afraid to push yourself out there and get on the road.
Learn to accept your feelings
Each time you drive again, no matter how small a step it is, make a conscious effort to try and accept yourself.
You don’t have to take every step perfectly or become comfortable driving as soon as possible. You can take your time and focus on each little task. The more you do this the more at ease you will become with driving again which will reduce your anxiety levels even further. Go for a short ride around the block. It doesn’t have to be any great distances. You can even go for short periods of time, but you must focus on the task at hand.
Journeying around the block can help you accept your limitations and learn to cope with them. Acceptance is a difficult thing to achieve, especially when facing life changes after an accident, so it is important that you go out there and try to face these challenges head-on.
Having anxiety is an overall negative experience, and it is even worse when you have to deal with anxiety following a car accident. This is such an unexpected event that you will most likely feel as if there is no way that you can cope with what just happened. However, there are things that you can do to help cope with your anxiety.
Adam Mulligan did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health and well-being.