Guest post by Greg Weber, creator of the Driving Peace program
As a group of professional Miami personal injury lawyers, DLE deals with car accident injuries day in and day out. It’s a routine part of their business. A strange “side effect” of being personal injury lawyers that may surprise you is they hear a lot of stories about driving anxiety. Driving anxiety/phobia is a rampant personal issue that negatively impacts millions of drivers like you all over the world. DLE generously reached out to me to write a guest post, because driving anxiety literally is my business. I’m an anxiety expert, and I created a program for anxious drivers called Driving Peace. You can read my whole story right here.
In my experience, the number one cause of driving anxiety is driving on freeways. I’m conducting an anxiety while driving survey, and the data so far bears this out. Florida has nearly 1,500 miles of interstate freeway alone, and well over a quarter of a million lane miles of road. That all adds up to tons of anxious Florida freeway drivers.
Top Ten Methods to Blast Freeway Anxiety Attacks from DLE Miami Personal Injury Lawyers
I believe the best strategy for freeway anxiety attacks is preparation. I’ve personally used all ten of the methods below. If they worked for me, they’ll work for you too.
- Do a simple tapping exercise – Tapping meridian points on the body has been proven to reduce or stop an anxiety attack. And the cool thing about this one is, you can do it in the car. When you feel an attack coming on, ask yourself this question: “On a scale of one to ten, how high is my anxiety level?” Then take the first two fingers of either hand and tap your cheekbone on the same side as your hand, right underneath the eye. Tap for about 20-30 seconds. Then rate your anxiety level again on the one to ten scale. Did it drop a point or two? Repeat the cycle until your anxiety has dropped to a tolerable level. Here’s a video showing how.
- Anticipate lane changes – Memorize required lane changes well before you have to make them. Learn the lane changes of a freeway route under easier conditions by driving it during off hours when there’s little traffic. You can also use your phone’s map app to give you turn-by-turn driving instructions.
- Take a defensive driving course – A lack of good driving skills causes anxiety for many drivers. It’s important to know how to skillfully execute the physical mechanics of your car. Check out your local driving school, or take a course online.
- Use the right hand lane as much as possible – Driving on the right lets you drive slower. Faster traffic will move around you on the left. Going at high speed is one of the biggest anxiety triggers of freeway driving. Slowing down generally reduces overall stress.
- Drive five to ten MPH under the speed limit – It’s perfectly OK (and perfectly legal) for you to drive slower than the actual speed limit, as long as it’s not dangerously slow. Remember, faster drivers are legally required to go around you. You are not required to speed up to accommodate them. Make sure you’re in the right hand lane if you prefer driving under the speed limit.
- Distract yourself – I think of anxiety attacks as feedback loops in the brain and body. Feedback always gets louder if left unchecked. You can sometimes interrupt anxiety by distracting the mind. Listen to your favorite music, loudly. Open a window and hear the sounds outside the car. I like to listen to books on tape to keep my mind occupied when I drive.
- Don’t drive freeways during peak hours – Avoid rush hour traffic. You may not have the luxury of doing this, but avoid driving anxiety attacks by staying off the freeway at peak hours if at all possible.
- Drive with someone you trust – Having a trusted friend in the car helps some people remain calm. And it’s another pair of eyes to help watch out for things. I used to drive with a friend who helped me check my blind spots on the freeway. It was enormously comforting.
- Break your freeway driving into sections – Think of the freeway as a series of exits rather than an amorphous, terrifying blob. It’s perfectly OK to pull off at the next exit if you need to. Wherever there’s an exit, there’s always another entrance. Take it one exit at a time.
- Breathe into your belly – Freeway anxiety attacks are often punctuated by rapid, shallow breathing. Inhale deeply into your belly, then slowly exhale. Keep belly breathing as you make your exhalations slower than your inhalations. A minute or so of this will trigger your nervous system’s autonomic relaxation response.
DLE Lawyers are in the accident and injury business. If you need the services of Miami personal injury lawyers, you’re already in the right place. We obviously prefer you didn’t get injured in a car accident at all. There’s little to no evidence that driving anxiety actually causes car accidents. But there is a strong correlation between the fear of car accidents and driving anxiety. Safety is a relative thing. It’s often just a feeling. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel better. So use the methods above to blast your freeway anxiety attacks whenever possible.