Driving test anxiety, fear and stress often develop more and more as the test approaches due to anticipation of what the driving test will be like and possible mistakes people may make.
Being nervous is normal when taking any test or exam, in fact this can enhance your performance. However, just before your driving test you may start to doubt whether you have the skills necessary to pass, even though your driving instructor putting you forward for the test indicates that you have reached a suitable standard. In fact you know you can drive well, however as soon as faced with the test you may feel this ability abandons you. “This can be hugely frustrating as you know you deserve to pass and are competent enough to perform at the standard required”.
You may even be so anxious that your sleeping patterns are disturbed leading up to the test, so that on the day you are just not functioning as you normally would. In your mind you may go through a number of things if you are not able to sleep. You may even start to think about people you know who ‘passed first time’ and worry about telling your friends and family if you fail. If you failed your test previously you may feel under even more pressure in the next test and this will probably include financial pressure.
The following are symptoms of driving test nerves:
- Feeling stressed, fearful and anxious in the period leading up to the test
- A feeling that you just can’t remember anything during the theory test
- A dry mouth, butterflies and nausea
- Physical shaking or trembling
- Concern about following the examiner’s instructions correctly
- Loss of confidence in your ability to drive.
These symptoms are often related to lack of confidence, poor self esteem, failure expectation and a basic fear of losing control when under pressure. In extreme cases people may continually avoid booking their test.
The Sunday Times (February 26, 2006) stated “its official: nerves really do make people fail their driving test. Those who fail are almost twice as anxious and have faster heart rates than those who pass. Researchers from Liverpool John Moores University found that nerves brought on by a fear of the examiner and of perceived failure in the eyes of friends or family can lead to a collapse in performance, a phenomenon they term “choking”. In one test it was found that the heart rate of those who passed was less than 120 beats per minute while those of failure beat at 140.”
Increased heart rate is part of the bodies’ way of preparing for ‘fight’ or ‘flight’. When a person becomes angry or frightened, the adrenal glands release large amounts of adrenalin into the blood. This increases the strength and rate of the heartbeat and raises the blood pressure. It can also cause unpleasant physical symptoms such as shaking and sweating. This is the bodies’ way of using the excess adrenalin that it doesn’t need for ‘fight’ or ‘flight’.
You can help reduce the unpleasant side effects by using up this excess adrenaline through physical activity.
THE SECRET TO PASSING YOUR DRIVING TEST Passing you driving test depends on three things:
- Being fully prepared
- Being focused and positive
- Remaining calm and in control Information on each of these follows below.
1. Being fully prepared. Your driving lessons should fully prepare you so that you know what to expect in your test. If you feel that you are not fully prepared or confident enough, be proactive and find other ways of doing this. Here are some tips: • Get additional practice where possible by asking your family and/or friends for support • Identify your skills/knowledge gaps are and ask your instructor questions related to these • Go to your local library or book shop and find books on learning to drive • Use learner driver forums as much as possible, e.g. http://www.drivertrainingtoday.co.uk/forum/index.php
2. Being focused and positive. Coaching helps focus your mind on the goal of passing your driving test and to overcome any barriers to success. Where possible the root cause of any barriers to passing your test will be addressed, e.g. past experiences leading to lack of confidence. By focusing your mind the RAS (Reticular Activating System- a cluster of brain cells), will filter information consistent with the goal of passing your driving test. Coaching can identify thinking patterns, values and beliefs and how you can best use these, or change your programming, in order to pass your test. If self limiting beliefs are affecting your confidence Claire can help you to replace them with more positive beliefs. This is crucial in developing a positive mental attitude and believing in yourself. Henry Ford said “if you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re absolutely right”.
3. Remaining calm and in control. It’s essential to relax and remain calm under pressure. This is demonstrated by the test reported in the Sunday Times which showed that the heart rate of those who passed was slower than those who failed. Hypnotherapy is very relaxing and calming and helps to control heart rate. It works by tapping into the subconscious mind, which stores emotions, fears and anxiety and is responsible for all your bodily functions, including your heart rate and hormone production. Using hypnotherapy you can overcome any fear, stress and anxiety associated with passing your driving test, increase confidence and restore feelings of control. The driving test can then be tackled with new levels of calmness and self assurance. Darryl uses deep relaxation techniques, self hypnosis, visualization and Hypnoanalysis. These techniques really can make the difference on the day and help you to pass your driving test.
Breathing steady, rhythmically down to your abdomen is crucial for controlling fear, anxiety and stress. By doing this your heart rate and blood pressure remain stable, you will get more oxygen to your brain and relax your muscles.
Want to find out more or are interested in using Hypnotherapy for your driving test nerves, contact me:
Darryl McCullagh DIP HYP CS / Cert HypB