Distracted drivers, inexperienced drivers, impaired drivers, road ragers … they can all be cause for anxiety. But when you step into your car and get behind the wheel, there are many tangible ways you can ease your mind’s turbulence and take to the road more confidently. Here are 6 proven mental tricks for creating a feeling of safety and security in your car. That way, you’ll be more at ease when you turn on the engine and cool-headed behind the wheel.

1. Imagine your safe space

When you sit in the car (before you turn on the engine), close your eyes for one minute.1 Imagine yourself in a place that feels especially safe and secure. Maybe it’s a lush garden smelling of fragrant flowers. Or sitting by the ocean hearing the sound of waves. Take in all this inner beauty and peace. Open your eyes. Put your feet on the floor of the car. Feel the weight of your body solid on the ground for about a minute. Then, when you’re fully present and focused, turn on the engine and drive.

2. Tune into soothing music 

Music is the easiest way to alleviate anxiety. And science suggests it can reduce cortisol levels (also known as the “stress hormone”). Maybe you find classical, pop music, or jazz soothing. Allow the music to relax the mind so that you’re not distracted and can focus intently on the road. The more relaxed and secure you feel, the easier it is to focus.

3. Nix the anxious thoughts

It’s easy to let negative thoughts take over. But there are ways to divert them.3 Instead, remind yourself that you just took your car in for a full tune-up and safety inspection — and your car passed the tests with flying colors. Or perhaps you stopped into your local police station to make sure your child seat is properly secured. Or remind yourself you haven’t encountered unsafe drivers in a long while. Because when it comes down to it: most of us are just trying to get to where we need to go safely. 

4. Use words to feel safe

For example, maybe as a child you felt especially safe and loved when a parent made you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Say the words “peanut butter and jelly” to trigger the memory of security. These are verbal “anchors” connecting words to a positive memory. Or maybe you recall a particular trip you took where you felt especially safe and relaxed — maybe to a place like Kauai (Hawaii), where you went snorkeling. Say to yourself, repetitively, the word “Kauai.”

5. Create a “cocoon” of safety 

This may sound a bit strange but hear us out. When you sit in the driver’s seat, imagine “zipping up” a cocoon-like membrane enveloping only your car, yourself (and your car passengers too). Everything inside the cocoon is safe from all that’s happening on the road. Imagine the sound of zipping up this membrane (or cover) as if it were a jacket just before you turn on the engine. 

6. Plan exit strategies 

Things happens and you can’t plan for everything. However, if you have 1-2 exit strategies in your mind, you’ll feel more confident about handling any situation. For example, if you get into an accident, you’ll know to move to a safe area like the shoulder of the road.

Creating physical and emotional safety can go a long way toward enjoying wherever you, your family, and your car take you.  And remember to always have top-notch car insurance. Get a quick Esurance quote today and find out how we’re making car insurance — and driving in general — surprisingly painless.

Safe and smart | Car safety

Amanda Pirot

about Amanda

Amanda Pirot is a content marketing pro who writes about healthcare, behavioral psychology, marketing, and business topics. When she's not writing she paints (and sells) dog portraits in watercolor from her home in beautiful Marin County, CA.