I remember my driving test like it was yesterday – it was possibly the most nerve-racking experience of my life.
I wanted to pass so badly. I wanted the freedom it would give me. I am completely amazed that I did pass first time as I literally was on the verge of a panic attack throughout what felt like hours.
When you are that nervous, making mistakes is so much easier to do as the reasoning, logical part of your brain is taken over by the emotional part.
You mind switches to ‘fight or flight’ mode where you instinctively look for dangers and are on high alert – hence increased breathing and heart rate as your body prepares you to run or fight the foreseen danger.
It’s very difficult to be calm and methodical when you mind switches to this high intensity state.
Everything you’ve learned and practised seems to temporarily vanish from your mind and it’s easy to become absorbed in thoughts about what might go wrong instead of focusing on what you want to happen.
Here are a few tips that can help you feel much calmer about your upcoming driving test:
One of the first things that changes when we are anxious about something is our breathing. When we are nervous, we naturally begin to breathe more rapidly and usually those breaths are shallow, chest breaths with the emphasis on breathing in.
This is the body preparing you to fight or flight by increasing oxygen to your muscles.
However the good news is you can help relax your mind and body very quickly by consciously breathing in the opposite way with the 7-11 breathing technique.
If you were to practise for five minutes, maybe twice a day, consciously breathing in for the count of 7, then out for the count of 11, you will notice how quickly you calm down. You don’t have to count but the important thing is that your out-breaths are longer than your in-breaths.
Extending the exhale mimics the breathing of a relaxed, calm person and by doing this we are sending the message to our unconscious mind that all is well and to be calm.
If you were to practise this a few times a day for a week, you find yourself naturally applying it when you feel yourself tensing up and quickly calming down. It’s simple. no one needs to know you are doing it, yet it’s very effective. You can even do it while you are driving to stay calm.
That internal chatter that we all have narrates how we feel. If we are telling ourselves, ‘I’m going to fail’, ‘I’m going to make a mistake’ etc, it activates anxious feelings.
Instead get into the habit of telling yourself positive statements, such as ‘I will pass easily’, ‘I’ve practised and I am a competent driver’, ‘I can do this’. Whatever feels right for you.
Positive self talk really can change how you feel, and the better you feel, the calmer and more confident you are, which means you are more likely to find the driving test easy to pass.
Ensure you’ve had plenty of practise and feel confident in your driving abilities as much as possible. The more you practise doing things correctly, the more your mind begins to absorb your learnings as an automatic behaviour and everything feels easy and natural.
Remember when you were younger and you were learning to tie your shoelaces? It seemed really difficult at first but you practised and now you do it without thinking.
As well as doing physical practise, mentally rehearsing your driving test is a very powerful thing to do. Your brain reacts to your imagination as if it were real, so the more you imagine your driving test going exactly as you want it, the more likely that is going to happen in reality.
Just take a few minutes each day to close your eyes and relax then imagine watching a movie of yourself during your test, with everything happening perfectly. Then imagine stepping into that movie, and being there, seeing out of your own eyes and imagine the whole process while associated, going perfectly well.
If you would be interested in a one-to-one session to help you feel calm and confident on your driving test, please be in touch to book you free 15 minute consultation.