Confident Drivers are delighted to share with you a guest blog from Dr Kathryn Newns on the topical subject of wearing a facemask during driving lessons and your driving test. Dr Newns is a Clinical Psychologist, one of the founders of the Emotional Health Toolkit Facebook group and the Director of Applied Psychology Solutions.
Face masks are not very comfortable at the best of times. But what about wearing one when you are learning to drive? Or taking your driving test?
If you are nervous and you are wearing a mask there is a chance that your breathing will change; you may feel uncomfortable (like you cannot get enough breath in) and this is likely to make your anxiety worse. Imagine doing this for the first time when you are taking your driving test! It is already likely that you’d be feeling anxious about your driving lesson and wearing a mask might make that feel worse. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
It is really important that you get used to wearing a mask, especially if you are going to have to wear one when you are likely to feel on edge and worried. You do not want the first time you experience discomfort wearing a mask to be the day of your driving test! You might be used to wearing one to pop into a shop, but that will be very different from wearing one for an hour during a driving lesson or test.
So how should you prepare yourself for this? Just like learning to drive - you have to practice:
Bring your focus to your breath. Take slow, deep breaths all the way from your diaphragm (the muscle just below your lungs). Breath in through your nose over 4 seconds, then slowly exhale through pursed lips (fish lips!) for 6 seconds. Take a 2-second pause. These are “Quality Breaths”.
Regulating your breathing in this way helps to engage the vagus nerve – part of the “parasympathetic nervous system” (which is part of our built-in “calm down” system) – this can help your body and mind to feel calm and relaxed. Even if you are not wearing a mask, any time you feel anxious or worried, focussing on your breathing can be a real help.
Before you put on your mask, right after you put it on, and once you have taken it off, try taking 5 “Quality Breaths”.
It has always been the case that, when it comes to a test such as a driving test, preparation is key. The techniques described here about breathing and focussing to reduce anxiety have always been advised when people are nervous about their tests. Now we also need to apply them to wearing a mask and the anxiety and discomfort that this might bring. The best thing you can do to prepare is to practice, practice, practice. Then you can focus on passing and enjoying the freedom that driving can bring!
The Emotional Health Toolkit was created by a group of Registered Psychologists at the start of the COVID19 pandemic. The Facebook group shares high-quality information and psychological resources, created by Registered Psychologists. The founders of the Emotional Health Toolkit also offer support to businesses to improve the mental wellbeing of their employees so that they can recover more effectively from COVID-19 and create a stable and resilient workforce.
We hope you have found these tips on managing driving anxiety while driving long distances helpful. Please help us by sharing this guide with others. There is a good chance that if you found it useful, so will they.
It's great to have a website offering fantastic techniques to assist with the challenges of driving. The website recognises the fact that learning to drive can be stressful and there are strategies to help with this. The website's name, 'CONFIDENT Drivers' is what a learner is aspiring to be, so it's very positive. The techniques also apply to building general confidence in all walks of life, so useful again. Thank you!
I was so pleased when my instructor signed me up for Confident Driver. I loved the hypnosis sessions & I recently passed first time with one fault. Recommend 100%
Confident drivers has been a really useful tool in changing my attitude to the driving test. I hadn't recognised just how much my negative thoughts about my ability rather than my actual driving ability have been holding me back and putting me off. I particularly liked the quick fix section that gives you strategies to calm down just before the test!
If you would like some self-help stress management resources to help you tackle your driving anxiety and improve driving confidence then our calming kit is created by leading industry experts especially for you. Access to all the resources is online.
These plans are created specifically for drivers and learner drivers looking for online solutions to manage driving nerves and anxiety. We also have a range of group plans created for driving instructors who would like to offer support offroad to their learner drivers, you can find more details on our ADI page.
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Co-hosted by Kev & Tracey Field, each Driving Confidence podcast episode offers bite-sized information and ideas that are both relatable and achievable to help you manage your driving nerves or anxiety and transform how you feel about driving.
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