How can mindfulness help your driving nerves and confidence?

You are probably already being mindful while driving without even realising it!

Mindfulness is simply noticing what is happening around you, right now, on purpose and with curiosity

While driving you will be giving your full attention to what you are doing in order to drive the car, paying close attention to other road users and if you are learning you will also be listening to your driving instructor. By being more aware of the theory of mindfulness and consciously adding mindfulness exercises to your driving you could develop and strengthen your attention skills while driving, which in turn will help you feel more confident in your driving ability.  Mindfulness can help you notice and manage any unhelpful thinking habits that you have and be more aware of how your mood and emotions might impact your driving lessons and your future driving.

The benefits of a daily mindfulness practice include:

* being able to focus your attention more easily where you choose

* being able to interrupt automatic pilot and avoid getting lost in an inner world of thoughts

* gaining more perspective on the events that happen during everyday life

* reduce stress levels

* become more self-aware of your thoughts and emotions and how they might impact your driving behaviour

Being mindful doesn't have to involve meditation although it can if you like. All the suggested mindfulness exercises in the six-week course on our website are short practical tasks that last from 20 seconds to 4 minutes. They can easily be fitted in around your life and several of the exercises you can carry out whenever you are in a car as a driver or passenger, for example, while putting on your seatbelt, getting into the driver seat or passenger seat and filling up with fuel.

Driver behaviour is the biggest contributing factor in 95% of road incidents and driver behavioural issues might include thrill-seeking, frustration, outside pressures, distraction and anxiety.  Recognising and understanding how your personality, thoughts, emotions, values, beliefs and perceptions about other road users might impact your own driver behaviour can help you to be more self-aware and allow you to modify your behaviour and become a safer driver.

Mindfulness helps you to recognise the thoughts and physical feelings that accompany different moods and situations and this self-awareness helps us to learn to control both our minds and our actions.

 mindful adi

 

How does stress affect self-confidence?

One of the key theories cited in psychology for improving self-confidence and performance is Bandura’s (1977, 1986, 1997) self-efficacy theory.  I know it sounds a bit of a mouthful but its good to know there is some scientific basis behind why we are recommending certain techniques on the website!  Self-efficacy is simply self-confidence in a specific situation and whether you have belief in your own capability to do something.

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How does stress affect performance, learning and driving behaviour?

Over the last two weeks blogs, we have covered the three emotional systems and learning zones.  So how does all this theory about stress, emotions and learning apply to our learner drivers in real life?  We can take a learner driver at a roundabout as an example.    

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Are you too calm or too fearful to learn?

Are you in the best state of mind to learn how to drive?  Do you love your driving lessons or does just the thought of them make you feel nervous?  Your emotions have a big role to play in how well you are able to learn during your lessons.  We have different zones that we move between when are learning something new. 

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How do you feel when driving?

When you are driving or are on a driving lesson how do you feel?  What emotions do you experience?  Do they stay the same or do they change?

We have three emotional systems that govern our actions and how we feel. We should experience all three systems throughout the day, with different systems being more prominent depending on the situations that we find ourselves in.  Understanding more about how we all experience these emotional systems can help you learn how to manage them and use them to your advantage.

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Are your Limiting Beliefs affecting your driving?

 According to Jack Handey "A belief is just a thought that you think over and over again"

Have you ever stopped to take notice of what your beliefs about your driving or passing your driving test are?  

Are your beliefs holding you back and stopping you from achieving your goal of being a safe, calm and confident driver?  If so then you may be experiencing what is known as limiting beliefs.

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Do you get the most out of your driving lessons?

 Have you ever been in a lesson at school, college or university or a work training course, fitness class, driving lesson or even accessing this website and secretly decided you can not be bothered?  You go through the motions, do just enough - or maybe you don't, and as a result, you don't achieve anything and feel that you've wasted your time.

This action of being consciously aware and in control of how much you are going to actively participate with something is called reflexivity.  We've all been there, some days you just do not feel like it, however when you go through the motions anyway you just end up feeling more fed up and negative.  Unsurprisingly research has found that those individuals who consciously decide to take part or engage in a situation are much more likely to have a positive experience and achieve more as a result.

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What is stress?

 
The word stress has become part of our everyday language with people using it to describe themselves, work or modern life. We often see different reports telling us stress is bad for us or that some stress is good for us. Different people seem to experience varying levels of stress in the same situations, making it confusing to work out what triggers a stress response and what feeling stressed means for different people.

Stress is experienced when a person perceives that they are not able to cope with the demands of a situation or task that is important to them and has four different stages.  

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Negative Thinking is a habit

Habits are developed over weeks, months and years and are a great time-saving solution. Once we have learnt and mastered an action we can daisy chain it with others until we have our daily routines organised on autopilot.

This daisy-chaining of actions and developing habits is the same process we undergo when learning to drive both that is a subject for a future blog!

How about thinking? Do you have any thinking styles, patterns or thoughts that have become a habit? Negative thinking can become a habit that is so automatic that it can be hard to break - or more concerning you may not even have realised that you are doing it!

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Why is the Out Breath calming?

 Several breathing exercises ask you to focus on the out breath which may seem counter-intuitive but there is a reason.

When we breathe out unconsciously this is actually a letting go rather than an action.  Breathing in is an action which is why when we choose to breathe consciously we instinctively start with the in breath.  Breathing out is actually a release of air, when we breathe out we let go a little, releasing the air in our lungs and at the same time, our muscles let go a little, relaxing and softening.  Try it now and notice how your muscles respond to the in breath and out breath, notice what your shoulders do.  

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How do relaxation techniques help reduce driving stress, nerves and anxiety?

 Every time we find ourselves in a stressful situation and we feel under threat we tense our muscles ready to fight, run, freeze or hide.  Even when the stressful situation is resolved and the time for action has passed our muscles will often remain tense for a long period of time. 

Repeated long-term stress whether generated by everyday life or by driving can lead to long-term muscle tension and muscle tension can lead to pain, headaches, poor sleep patterns and irritability which of course can make us more stressed!  These habits are repeated and developed over years until the feelings of being stressed with our shoulders being up by our ears, aching necks and shoulders and sudden flares of anger in response to situations become a normal part of our lives.  

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