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Too anxious to drive
Categories: Mental Health, Self-care, Wellbeing, Support, Mindfulness, For Myself
Learn strategies to manage driving anxiety. When we feel overwhelmed by anxiety over a task, focusing on small achievements can help.
Too anxious to drive

Welcome to our Youth Talk Blog, a section dedicated to youth lived-experiences with mental health and wellbeing, with weekly blog posts from diverse young people’s perspectives. This is a positive, fun and resourceful space, showcasing young people thriving and connecting with healthful activities, resources and support. This post has been written by Anna, our Community Education intern, who is a 20-year-old psychology student.

Although I have reached a point in my life where I can manage my anxiety, my earlier mental health experiences have left challenges that still impact me today. For example, experiencing anxiety during my formative years meant that while others were learning all sorts of skills, I was busy managing symptoms of panic and fear, which also made learning new things more daunting. Unfortunately, my environment did not provide the resources I needed to overcome these challenges either, so I must admit because of this combination of factors, I cannot drive. Not being able to drive brings a lot of embarrassment as a young adult because it seems like everyone can do it, but that is not true. There are numerous barriers to driving alongside anxiety experienced by many, such as expense, not having an appropriate teacher, and a lack of opportunities or time. I recently realised that I need to cut myself a break because everyone achieves things at a different pace, and while I haven't got driving down yet, I have accomplished plenty in other areas. 

But I want to learn, and because of my anxiety, I am breaking what seems like a massive challenge into smaller steps. First, I want to be sure that I know what I am doing once I start practising. Although I have my learners and have driven a bit rurally, it has been a while, and there are many more rules relevant to city streets than gravel roads. Therefore, I want to read up more till I feel confident. After that, it will be time to book a driving lesson. I do not want the fear of the unknown to stop me, so I will take some time to pick the right instructor and talk to them first before the lesson about what to expect and make sure they are the right fit for me. I believe that learning from a driving instructor rather than a friend will reduce my anxiety. Driving instructors have seen it all, and it is their job to keep you and others on the road safe while you learn. This will help me not feel totally responsible for everything as I build my skills. 

I also know that having a good experience helps keep you motivated to try again. My first time driving was not with an instructor, and it was very off-putting, I ended up feeling like I would never succeed. Now, I am just looking for a little triumph to encourage me to keep working at this goal at my pace. I am also setting my expectations following my abilities instead of expecting to be able to do what everyone else my age can do, and that helps bring the anxiety down too. Finally, I know that buying lessons is also not cheap, and I do not want to add financial stress to the mix, so I will take a lesson when my finances allow and look at other options as I get more capable. Setting intentions through writing them down helps me achieve these goals, so hopefully one of my following articles will be an update on these intentions coming to life. 


Resources

https://drive.govt.nz 

https://www.theaa.com/driving-school/driving-lessons/advice/learning-to-drive-with-anxiety#safe 

https://www.theaa.com/car-insurance/advice/driving-anxiety 

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