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Fear of driving or flying… don’t let it stop you living life to the full.

Fear of driving or flying has been relatively common ever since it became a normal part of daily travel.

Article Topic: Anxiety

Written by: Kirstie Salter

You are not alone

Fear of flying and of driving has been relatively common ever since these two types of travel became a normal part of daily travel. And since the Covid pandemic I think the number has increased - more people are coming to me for help with these problems than ever before.

Nothing to fear but the fear itself

These fears are a form of phobia, an irrational emotion that causes extreme anxiety or even panic. We know that this reaction is illogical, that travelling in a car or plane is statistically a lot safer than many other things we do, but that doesn’t stop us feeling tight in the chest, sweating heavily, gasping for breath and having palpitations!

Why am I reacting in this way?

People develop phobias for a variety of reasons. If we’ve been in a car accident, or just witnessed one, this is likely to make us feel less relaxed about driving yourself or being a passenger. With flying the fear may be triggered by a particularly turbulent flight, pain in our ears or stories about an airline disaster.

Another factor is the general level of stress we are experiencing in life as a whole. Imagine we have a “stress bucket” that gradually collects all our stressful experiences (pressure at work, relationship issues, money worries). When our bucket is filled to the brim we’re less able to cope with additional situations that may cause our bucket to brim over. If you are already at the limit of how much stress you can take then this may then spill over in unexpected ways – all of a sudden you find driving or flying slightly scary, or more scary than before.

Excuses, excuses…

The natural way to cope with these feelings is to avoid the situations that trigger these very unpleasant and scary reactions. Rather than get in a car we make an excuse when friends invite us to stay or attend social functions, we avoid going into the office and try to ensure that meetings are virtual. With flying we tell ourselves that that there’s no point in travelling abroad when there’s so many parts of the UK we haven’t seen yet, that flights are too expensive or that exploring Europe by car and ferry is more your thing.

Why this is a problem

We might kid ourselves that this isn’t limiting us in any way. But the truth is we’re missing out on so much. We’re not developing fresh relationships and are letting current ones dwindle. We’re missing out on great experiences and opportunities. We’re probably having a negative impact on our career too – avoiding the office, in-person meetings, conferences and socialising with colleagues is sure to marginalise us and limit our prospects.

Avoidance only makes it worse

There’s an even bigger issue, however. The more we do something the more familiar it tends to become and the less we think about it. The less we do something and the effect tends to be the opposite. When we actively avoid something, because we’re scared of it, the stronger our fear becomes – by backing away from situations than cause us this anxiety you give it more room to grow!

That’s why I’m now seeing more people with fear of driving or flying. By grounding people, and confining them to home, Covid increased the fear in those who already had this issue. It has also caused others to develop the condition for the first time – because they were driving and flying less regularly they found the experience less familiar and this helped previously surpressed anxieties rise to the surface.

Now the good news

There are a number of ways that a therapist and mentor like myself can help you eliminate these fears and enable you to live life to the full once again.

Fear of driving or flying holding you back? Give me a call and let’s sort it. Call +44 (0) 7966 517708.



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