Even the most cool, calm and collected person can buckle under the pressure when it comes to their driving test. It’s not a particularly nice experience for anyone, and after months (sometimes years!) of practice, it all comes down to a short period of time in the car with the examiner. While a little bit of nerves can be helpful, as heightened adrenaline can help you perform better, the dry mouth, sweaty palms, knotted stomach and racing thoughts aren’t going to be doing you too many favors. If you suffer from anxiety disorders and feel this way a lot of the time for no apparent reason, it’s important to go and speak to your GP so you can get the right treatment. But if you’re feeling this way in response to stress such as your driving test, here are a few ways we can overcome the situation.
Practice Grounding Techniques
When you feel like your thoughts are racing ahead, grounding techniques can help to bring your focus back to the current moment. This can help to promote feelings of calmness. When there’s something stressful like a driving test on the horizon, it’s easy to get caught up in your own thoughts. Anticipation, stress and worry can quickly spiral out of control, you might find yourself thinking ‘I can’t do it’ or even thinking of ways that you can get away from the situation. You might start thinking the worst or picturing failure in your mind. If you just focus on bringing your thoughts to the here and now, it can help to calm the physical symptoms of anxiety. You will maintain a much better state of mind, and can go into the test feeling more relaxed and more confident. Meditation works well as a grounding technique, you could also ask yourself questions such as ‘where am I’ or ‘what is the date?’. You could focus on your breathing, or name things in the room you can see around you. It’s very simple but really does work.
Practice Positive Thinking
Our state of mind really is everything. If you feel happy and positive about life, you’ll find you will come across more opportunities. If you feel down and are always looking for the worst (you may be doing this subconsciously without realizing) chances are you will find the worst. The difference between an opportunity and a challenge is just the way you look at a situation. Being more positive can help put you in the best state of mind, and if you do happen to fail, you will bounce back more quickly. Practice visualising success. Tell yourself ‘I can do it’- find a mantra or positive quote that resonates with you and repeat it daily. When negative thoughts creep in, do your best to push them away and focus on the positive.
Use a Herbal Remedy
Products such as Kalms and Rescue Remedy are safe herbal remedies which can be bought over the counter, and can help promote relaxation and calm. Herbs such as lavender have also been shown to be effective. You could drop some essential oils into your bath in the week leading up to the test, or make up a pillow spray and use it to help you drift off to sleep. While herbal remedies alone won’t completely stop your anxiety, coupled with positive thinking and other techniques to change your thinking they can be very effective.
Get Enough Food and Sleep
Anxiety can really do a number on your body. It can lead to sleeplessness, and let’s face it- everything always feels worse when you’re exhausted. Feelings of nausea might mean you don’t want to eat, and without the right sustenance, you will never be performing at your best potential. Practising the above techniques will help you to reduce your levels of stress so you can eat and sleep well. The morning before your test, have a healthy breakfast that will fuel your body and brain, and help to set you up for success.
Remind Yourself That It’s Not The End of the World
Finally, the great thing about driving tests is if you fail you can just come back and try again. Be sure to remind yourself of this when you’re having a major panic! It’s not a life or death situation, no one is going to die if you fail and nothing bad is going to happen. It’s not like school exams where you have to worry about your future. If you pass right away, that’s fantastic! If you don’t, pick yourself up and go again. Failure feels awful at the time, but actually, it can make you all the more determined and also more grateful when you finally do get your licence. There’s always a lesson to be learned in failure so use it as experience and you’ll know where to do better next time.