The Worry Games

Driving Away All That Driving Anxiety

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Thank you to “The Anxiety Guy”, Dennis Smisek, for contributing this post. See Dennis’ bio below.

Driving Anxiety

Driving Anxiety

It’s the morning rush hour, and your blood has reached the boiling point.

You have exactly five minutes to get to work and you discover a major traffic tie-up along the freeway. You see the orange pylons and suddenly realize that you are stuck in a construction zone.

The stress of being late for work seems overwhelming. Or, perhaps it’s 5:30 p.m. and you’re rushing to pick your four-year-old up from day care. A car suddenly veers in front of you and you have to slam on the brakes. You barely avoid an accident. Again, your stress level is rising and you’re finding it difficult to cope. In today’s world, driving is a major cause of stress. Many of us spend countless hours stuck in traffic jams. There seems to be more cars on the road than ever before.

In many American cities, traffic problems are a major public safety issue. And, at times, it might seem as if drivers are less courteous than they’ve ever been. Another source of stress is the care and maintenance of your vehicle. You have to worry about paying insurance costs, inspection fees, rising gas prices, and basic maintenance bills.

Are We There Yet? Are We There Yet? DAH!

For parents, chauffeuring children can be quite a stressful time. You might have to referee fights between children as you drive. Or you might have to find innovative ways to keep children occupied during long commutes.

Keeping children well-fed in the car can also be quite stressful. In desperation, you might pull into a drive-through, where the wait seems intolerable.

Driving Anxiety

Driving stress is a fact of modern life.

There will always be potholes, discourteous drivers, cranky passengers. You will inevitably encounter traffic jams on your way to work, to the store, or to school. There will always be times when you grip the wheel, wondering whether you’ll be able to make it. While you cannot eliminate the stress of the road, there are ways to curtail it. For instance, you might consider investing in some restful CDs.

Classical music can be quite soothing on a difficult driving day. Or you might like to listen to a CD of nature sounds as you are trying to negotiate your way through traffic.

Music Therapy

If you don’t have a CD player, cassette tapes are another possibility. Also, if you cannot afford to purchase tapes or CDs at a record store, consider purchasing them at a yard sale. You can even borrow tapes and CDs from your local library.

You’ll find that you’re better able to handle the stress of driving with some pleasant sounds emanating from your car stereo. Another thing you might consider is changing your route. If you inevitably end up in traffic jams on the freeway, consider using residential streets instead.

While you might find that your commute time is longer, you might also discover that your stress is reduced considerably when your route is changed.

Giving Yourself More Time = Less Stress

Another technique that many drivers use is to start out five to ten minutes earlier than they need to. That way, you don’t have to operate under such a time crunch. Those five or ten minutes can make quite a difference to your daily commute.

In addition, you might enjoy having those extra minutes to yourself once you arrive at school or at work. Driving is a necessary daily chore for most of us. The trick is to make it as enjoyable as possible in order to lessen our stress levels. Investing in a comfortable seat cushion or a relaxing back rest can do wonders for our frame of mind.

Singing or whistling in the car can be another effective stress-reducer. Playing games with your children-such as trying to spot out-of-state license plates-can be yet another effective stress-reducing technique.


Chances are you will not be able to reduce your stress and anxiety levels around driving anxiety overnight. Many of us have become quite used to stress on the road. However, by trying to make our trips as pleasant as possible, we can go a long way to lessening driving-induced stress.

Dennis Smisek

Bio: Dennis SImsek is a certified NACBT Practitioner as well as an NLP Master Practioner (an approach to communication, personal development, and psychotherapy that was created in the 1970’s), self-help author, and motivational speaker who has helped thousands of people worldwide. His podcast under the name The Anxiety Guy Podcast on iTunes has helped over 1 million. For more information on The Anxiety Guy mission visit

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7 thoughts on “Driving Away All That Driving Anxiety

  1. Invisibly Me

    Some great advice, because driving for many of us with anxiety can be quite difficult. I often find the thought of driving a longer distance (ie. maybe an hour or more) really off-putting and I’ll worry a fair bit about it, especially when I have no idea where I’m going (despite knowing I’ll leave myself lots of extra time, I’ll have Google mapped it, I’ll be using a sat nav etc). When I’m driving, and after having done a longer journey, I know it’s all fine; it’s the thought of doing it that can get to me. As for every day driving, I have to have music on, that’s a must for me! 🙂

  2. Lisa Scott Post author

    Just as a quick note – wanted to share that Psychotherapist Megan Gunnell shared this comment regarding Dennis’ wonderful post.

    “Thanks for sharing this. I have several clients who discuss driving anxiety. I’d add that sometimes anxiety can manifest from a place of feeling trapped. I remind clients they can always pull over and take breaks as needed.”

  3. Kathleen

    Was hoping to see info on panic attacks and driving. For many of us, the panic starts rising BEFORE we even get behind the wheel. This article seems more about making driving less stressful?

    1. Lisa Scott Post author

      I understand Kathleen. I didn’t drive for a long time because I was so scared of the panic attacks while driving. That is a good topic idea, I will put it on my list. Thanks for the input! xo

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