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Learning to drive with anxiety: how to cope when you get nervous

It can be a tricky thing, learning to drive. There’s a lot of new skills need to get to grips with, and driving can feel like a big responsibility. It’s only natural to feel a bit worried about driving, especially if you are prone to anxiety anyway. But we can help you cope if you follow our five-step guide to learning to drive with anxiety.

Step 1: Remember, it’s normal to be worried

Any new and unfamiliar experience can make someone anxious. It could be starting uni, beginning a new career, or moving somewhere new where you don’t know anyone. You can add learning to drive to that list, because it will feel alien and odd at first.

Don’t be surprised if you feel a bit anxious tackling new skills. Most of us feel that way at some point while we learn to drive.

Step 2: Talk to your instructor

If you are nervous, and especially if you are prone to anxiety in general, talk to your instructor about it. We bet they’ll be sympathetic and will think of ways to make driving less stressful. And if they don’t, well, they’re not the right instructor for you.

Any good instructor will be expecting their students to get nervous, and will have strategies to help cope with anxiety.

Step 3: Practise driving between professional lessons

Usually, the more you drive the easier learning to drive with anxiety becomes. Practice between lessons with parents can really help. Just remember to stay below the level you’ve reached with your instructor.

Talk to whoever is going to supervise you about your nerves, and explain how they can help by staying calm and patient as you rack up the practice miles.

Step 4: Get in the right state of mind

A good night’s rest won’t instantly banish anxious thoughts, but it will help. Eat and drink before the lesson, but be wary of drinking a heavily caffeinated drink as it could heighten your anxiety.

Meditation can help, or if that’s not your thing just do something quiet, calm and relaxing for 30 minutes or so before each lesson.

Step 5: Don’t be afraid to fail

More than half of new drivers fail the practical test the first time. Plenty of people fail the second test too. And it won’t make you unique if you fail the third or fourth time as well.

If you fall short of the grade when you take the theory or practical test, that’s not confirmation that your anxious faults are justified. You can do this! Lots of people take several tests to pass and go on to be safe and confident drivers. Keep working hard with your instructor, you’re going to get there in the end.

Find a RED Driving Instructor near you

Find a RED Driving Instructor near you

RED’s experienced instructors operate nationwide. So whether you’re learning in Newcastle or Norwich or Plymouth or Preston, they’ll find the perfect instructor to help you on your journey to passing.

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