It’s a simple concept, but breathing can make a fundamental difference to how you drive. More important how you can cope whilst driving. At first when working with anxious drivers, I used to feel silly explaining to clients how to breathe. But when you are in a panicked state every time you get into the car you're breathing to survive. Just to get through the journey no matter how small it can be a challenge. A familiar journey you’ve taken many times can feel like a mountain to climb. All before you turn the engine on. When driving in a heightened state of anxiety, you are nervous about the route. You can see danger at every turn, worrying about what could happen. Only a few short breaths from a panic attack.
In this blog I’ll clearly explain what is a panic attack. Why you might be experiencing panic behind the wheel. And I'll teach you two simple breathing techniques to help you calm your breathing. Feel more relaxed, in control and composed behind the wheel.
Panic attacks are your mind and body's response to fear. They are an exaggerated reaction to anxiety, stress and overwhelm. Your subconscious mind's number one job is to keep you safe and free from harm. Anxiety is actually a good think but when out of control it can perceive dangers where they don't exist. This perceived danger alerts you to stop you doing the thing which is causing the fear. This can present as nausea, feeling faint or dizzy, a racing heart, struggling to breathe, pins and needles in your hands and feet or feeling disconnected from your body, mind and surroundings. These symptoms let us know we need to be aware of danger. Why do they exist when I’ve driven down a road a million times before?
Panic attacks happen at different times for everyone. You may have one and never have another. You might experience one and not know what it is but have an underlying dread when it is over. Or you may find that familiar and new situations can bring on panic attacks. Triggering you each time you get in the car, both eroding your confidence and further establishing fear.
Panic attacks can be scary but there are things you can do to help yourself cope. Breathing techniques help to calm that part of your mind that wants to protect you at all costs. It helps the subconscious mind to know that you are aware of the potential threat, but you can handle the situation. It has a calming influence of the physical sensations. Helping to slow a racing heart and bringing back to the present.
Benefits of breathing techniques
You will get the most benefit out of any breathing techniques if you practise them. The more you practise the more they will become second nature if you experience any fear or anxiety.
I’d recommend sitting or lying down whilst you perfect the techniques.
Once practised you can use them when you feel anxious or nervous. Helping you to calm your nerves before you get in the car. Able to recall them in any moment of panic.
They help you to feel in control when you start to experience the symptoms of panic. Calming those symptoms with each breath that you take.
Inhale through your nose and exhale out through your mouth. It is nearly impossible to have a panic attack when breathing in through your nose.
How to breathe for calm
Inhale a deep breath in as full as you can without forcing your breath. Letting your breath flow out of you naturally.
Lengthening your out breath helps to activate the body’s parasympathetic nervous system. Moving from a fight or flight response to one of relaxation.
If you only remember one thing when panicking, it’s to breathe out longer than you breathe in. Focusing on your out breath being longer aids the relaxed response.
Do not worry if a technique does not appear to work the first few times of using it. The impact increases with practice.
Breath to Release Anxiety: 4,7,8
Breathe in through your nose for the count of 4.
Hold your breath in for the count of 7.
Breathe out through your mouth for the count of 8. (You might want to focus on letting any tension go with the out breath).
Close your mouth and repeat the 4,7,8 cycle, or until you feel more relaxed and in control.
Super Calm Breathe: 7,2,11,2
Breathe in through your nose for the count of 7.
Hold your breath for the count of 2.
Breathe out through your mouth for the count of 11.
Hold for the count of 2.
Now you know the symptoms of panic attacks. Why you might feel panic whilst driving or anxious when thinking about getting in the car. You have two simple breathing techniques to help you feel more in control when driving.
Breathing is so simple that no one ever needs to see that you are working through anxiety because we all breathe all of the time. You can practice remaining calm and in control of your driving panic when at home, at work and during any journey.
If you’d like to know more about how hypnosis can help you to overcome your driving phobia you can book a free discovery call to find out more by clicking the link below.