Best Herbs for Driving Anxiety
Learning how to drive is one of the most convenient skills to have in the current times we are living in. At the end of the day, going from one place to another by car is one of the cheapest and most time-efficient methods to get from point A to point B without stressing too much over it, unless you end up in a traffic jam, of course.
With battery-electric vehicles becoming more popular by the day, the whole discussion on whether cars are harmful to the environment is going to fall away, which is the reason why you should consider getting a driving license as soon as you are able to, and if you already have one, well then go ahead and enjoy it.
If Only It Were That Easy, Right?
Unfortunately, there are millions of people across the globe that have developed a common problem known as driving anxiety. As you might know, anxiety has been around for as long as people have roamed the planet. But only in the past few decades was the term "anxiety" coined as a medical condition. As so, it is one of the most debated medical conditions around the world, and while it can certainly be treated, it does require effort and time.
We have all felt anxious at some point in our lives – some more than others. But imagine having a panic attack right in front of your steering wheel - not the best situation to be in, right? Well, while driving anxiety can be quite a burden to those experiencing it, there are ways to cope with it. This is why we have decided to introduce you to the concept of treatment and give you a few handy tips.
Motivated by holistic medicine studies, we have also prepared the best herbs for driving anxiety in case you are looking for natural remedies to calm you down and relieve your anxiety when driving. So what are you waiting for? Let's dive right in.
What Is Driving Anxiety All About?
As we have mentioned above, while for some, driving is an enjoyable and relaxing experience, for others, driving can be quite traumatizing. What you should know is that there are groups of people who are predisposed to forming driving anxiety, especially those with a history of panic attacks or other traumatizing experiences. Still, this doesn't mean that the symptoms are all the same, especially considering that there are a few types of fear of driving or driving anxiety.
First of all, there is the fear and anxiety caused by being involved in a traffic accident. Now, whether we are talking about a traffic accident in which that particular person was involved as a passenger, witness, or the driver, such an experience can leave quite a disturbing memory that can hinder one's later possibility to drive comfortably.
In fact, the fear of injuries and future traumas is what usually motivates an individual to stay away from cars and traffic as a whole. As you might suppose, this can only lead to deepening the fear, as when a particular issue is not addressed, it will only become worse.
The other type of driving anxiety is based on the concept of a specific phobia. What this means is that while a particular person doesn't usually experience panic or anxiety attacks, once they sit behind a steering wheel, it all unravels. This is in no way connected to past experiences. In fact, this type of anxiety is most common for those with no history of bad experiences in traffic.
That is mostly due to the idea of driving a car seeming unsafe to them – much can go wrong including losing control over the vehicle, being a victim of someone's else reckless driving, or merely a pure coincidence that results in a bad ending. When you look at it this way, someone suffering from this type of anxiety would not want to drive a car voluntarily.
But the problem is that this is a negative perspective, and if we would focus on nothing but potential negative consequences and outcomes, the chances are that we would never leave the house. As long as you gain confidence in your driving skills and you accept the traffic as it is, you will be good to go.
The third, and probably the least common driving anxiety, is caused by agoraphobia. As you might know, it is a fear of places that make you feel cornered or scared in unknown situations. What this means is that while a person will feel comfortable driving in their street, as soon as they drive out of their known comfort zone, they will start acting irrationally and panic. Commonly associated disorders are claustrophobia and social phobia as a type of anxiety which have been discussed over the past few decades.
But if the fear of driving is so common and present in both men and women, why doesn't it receive as much public recognition as social anxiety and depression get? Well, because in most cases, people are embarrassed to admit that they have a fear of being in a car and usually come up with different excuses.
The Dangers of Driving Anxiety
The reason why addressing driving anxiety is fundamental is because leaving it unattended may result in numerous consequences that are potentially fatal. The most common two are accident distress and crashing attention lapses. As you may know, when you are emotionally overwhelmed, you may not be able to extend your attention span for longer than a couple of seconds, which is the reason why the chance of traffic accidents increases.
Also, if you panic while you are behind the wheel or you start feeling angry, overwhelmed, or stressed, it will once again open the door for potentially harmful and dangerous consequences. This is why you should be addressing driving anxiety one step at a time with a person who you are comfortable talking to so you can solve the issue. Make sure that it is someone you have known for a long time and who is an experienced driver.
Symptoms of Driving Anxiety
Luckily, detecting driving anxiety is not that tricky. In fact, it is much easier to figure out than social anxiety or depression because it is connected to one particular situation and that is when you are behind the wheel or in the passenger seat of a vehicle. The most common physical symptoms feature excessive sweating, dry mouth, and, of course, an elevated heart rate.
Along with that, it is common for drivers suffering an anxiety attack to experience shortness of breath, nausea, headaches, and dizziness. These are all bright red flags that you might be suffering from driving anxiety and that you should pull over and gather yourself.
Ways to Cope with Driving Anxiety
Before we get into the question of the best herbs for driving anxiety, we thought it would be a good idea to address a few methods that you can apply to cope with driving anxiety.
First of all, we would highly recommend journaling, as it is one of the best ways to express your emotions and cope with the fear that you have. Keep track of your feelings on a daily basis, and be sure to write down the experiences that happen regularly that are related to driving and traffic.
At the same time, take baby steps towards getting back behind the wheel and taking a few laps around your block each day. Once the week is over, look back at your journal and focus on all the positive experiences and things that have happened as a result of your driving. This kind of mindset will lead you to trust the car and realize that driving can be quite rewarding.
Another excellent method is to go for exposure therapy. Yes, you heard us correctly – directly facing your fear is one of the best ways to resolve the issue. Whether it is with a friend or a family member that you trust, simply get behind that wheel and try to focus on the ride without thinking about the potentially negative consequences. Along with practicing mindfulness and staying present in the moment while letting your thoughts come and go, this can be quite effective in treating driving anxiety.
Last but not least is so-called imaginal therapy, and it is comprised of thinking of a traffic jam and imagining the potential situations that you may find themselves in. This is mostly a precursor to the exposure therapy practiced by those who are not yet ready to get back in the car.
Do Herbs Actually Help Cope With Driving Anxiety?
This is one of the most common questions when it comes to coping with any type of anxiety, and the answer is – yes, they do! While this approach is holistic, you have nothing to lose from trying it. As long as you consult with your physician and you are sure that the herb remedy comes from a natural source, you should give it a go.
The first herb remedy on our list is the kava root. It comes from South America, and numerous studies have been conducted with it. All suggest that it has an effect that resembles antidepressants and anxiety medicine, only it comes from an all-natural source.
From what it seems, the kava root can positively affect your brain by reducing stress levels and anxiety and preventing sleep disorders such as insomnia. Whether you decide to take it in a liquid tea form or via capsules, be sure to consult with your doctor before taking it.
Another popular herb is lemon balm. It is one of the most popular natural remedies when it comes to treating Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. This is the exact reason why it is seen as adequate for coping with driving anxiety. Featured in numerous pharmaceuticals, lemon balm can provide a relieving and calming sensation and put your mind at ease.
Apart from being used as a food flavoring, passionflower has widely been used as a natural remedy for many conditions throughout the past few centuries. Recently, after it was discovered that this herb is full of antioxidants, people started using this herb to treat anxiety and depression. Apparently, due to the abundance of antioxidants and sedative-like compounds, it is one of the most effective ways to naturally treat your driving anxiety.
Now comes a herb that, apart from being used as a natural remedy, is a part of some common drugs including Xanax and Lorazepam. Yes, we are talking about Lavender. Apart from its strong yet vibrant smell, lavender is said to treat restlessness, anxiety, and insomnia. Its anxiolytic properties are widely known, which is the reason why this herb is one of the most popular remedies on the market. Not to forget, it keeps the mosquitoes at bay as well!
Last but not least is chamomile – whether you take it in the form of a tea or a tincture, there is no chance that you will go wrong with it. In fact, the effect it has on your brain resembles that of Valium, which is the reason why it might be so popular. Plus, chamomile tea will help you sleep better at night, allowing your brain to operate at optimal levels, giving you clarity and rationality throughout the day.
Driving anxiety is a common problem, and something millions of people face on a daily basis. But there is no need to give up when there are so many ways of effectively coping with it. Apart from the methods mentioned above that include facing your fears and going through specific behavioral therapies, there are natural remedies that may well put your mind at ease and give you an excellent start for treating your driving anxiety. You have nothing to lose by trying out a few of these herbs to see if they help with your driving anxiety. Remember to keep track of your progress in your journal. And good luck.