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Ultimate Guide to beating Driving Test Nerves

Do you need help with driving test nerves? Then our guide can help!
Get help from leading industry experts Kev and Tracey Field 

Industry experts in driving test nerves, Kev and Tracey Field

Discover the most effective techniques for banishing driving test nerves forever to become a calm and confident driver

driving lesson engagement

Do you get the most out of your driving lessons to ensure driving test success?

 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.  If you want to guarantee driving test success then you may want to change this negative habit.

This action of being consciously aware and in control of how much you are going to actively participate with something is called reflexivity or a growth mindset.  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.  Just a simple change of mindset during all your driving lessons could be the difference between driving test success and driving test failure.  After all it makes sense, you have already invested the time and the money in your lesson so investing your effort and attention as well will be worth it.

calming out breath while driving

Did you know breathing exercises calm driving nerves?

 Learning some simple breathing exercises will help you to calm driving nerves, stress and anxiety quickly whenever you need to.  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.  

limiting beliefs about driving

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.

Mindful while driving

How can mindfulness reduce driving anxiety and driving test nerves?

You are probably already being mindful while driving without even realising it!  It is a skill we all have and use everyday without realising.  Choosing to use mindfulness to reduce driving anxiety and test nerves means that you are strengthening skills you already have and using them to your advantage.

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.  Driving anxiety is often created by a fear of what might happen in the future so concentrating on what is happening right now with mindfulness interrupts feelings of anxiety.

stressed or relaxed while driving

Relaxation helps reduce driving nerves, stress and anxiety

 Did you know relaxation helps reduce driving nerves?  Practising relaxation exercises before driving lessons and before your driving test will help to reduce long term stress and minimise the impact that stressful situations have on you.

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.  

Driving Test pass

Driving Instructor Tips for Nerves

Most learner drivers experience nerves on the day of their driving test.  Experiencing nerves before a test or assessment is a conditioned automatic response based on our past experiences of similar situations.  This is why we all experience different levels of nerves because we have all had different past experiences.  

It is important to bear in mind that a manageable level of nervousness is actually beneficial.  An optimal level of nerves (again different for everyone) helps a learner to be focused on the task of driving and improves their concentration so that they can respond appropriately to each situation as they are driving.  If nerves increase past the optimal level however, they can have a detrimental effect on a learner's performance and possibly result in uncharacteristic mistakes and a test fail. 

Self Confidence

How can you increase driving 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 to increase driving confidence 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.

roundabouts and nerves

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.    

driving test nerves

Are you too scared to learn to drive?

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. 

three emotional systems while driving

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.

mind the driving confidence gap

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.  

driving nerves

Are your driving nerves caused by your thoughts?

The way you think makes driving test nerves worse. If our last few social media posts have resonated with you then it's possible that your driving stress, nerves and anxiety is made worse by unhelpful thinking styles.

If that’s the case don’t worry!  Being aware that the way you are thinking is half of the way to solving the problem, you can then begin to learn ways of developing more helpful thinking styles which will help you reduce the signs and symptoms of your nerves and begin to feel more confident.  

positive thinking while driving

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!

Joline Saunders hypnotherapist

Tips for Driving Test Nerves

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 as I literally was on the verge of a panic attack throughout what felt like hours.  Which is why I want to share my tips for driving test nerves.  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.