Anxiety Support
34,459 members38,433 posts

Panic attack at traffic lights

Can anyone give me some suggestions on how to overcome my panic when I'm stopped at traffic lights. I feel like I want to get out the car and run away. It's awful. Please any suggestions would be great thank you x

35 Replies
oldestnewest

I am the same anxious2befree but I also get this when I'm behind cars at junctions, give way, just stopped behind cars. I think the fear is not been able to go anywhere or been stuck.

Sorry I don't have any advice but your not alone.

Jjb1983

2 likes
Reply

I panic I think because I dint want to be stuck in my car at the lights incase I panic or have an anxiety attack. Ironic hey? What do you do?

Reply

I go all fidgety and feel like I'm about to freak out and when I've music playing it seems to sound louder than it actually is so I pause the music and open my windows. That doesn't really do anything but it's the first thing I think about.

What do you do?

Jjb1983

1 like
Reply

I sing to myself in my head, unwind my window and hope the lights change quickly

Reply

Close your eyes and breathe deeply and slowly. Exhale the panic out of you. Works for me.

Good luck.

3 likes
Reply

Thank you I will try it :)

Reply

I've been told by a therapist to start driving small journeys then start going a bit bigger, as she says doing it more will help it disappear but I am yet still to try this.

Last year I drove to the lake district for the weekend for a holiday, my partner normally drives this but he took his motorbike the whole way there I panicked 2 and a half hours. By the time I got there I was so wound up I couldn't really settle into the holiday which upset me.

But we took a trip to coniston water to look at the jetties the sun was shining I found a great spot and I've never felt so relaxed in a long time.

But then the drive back was the same so anxious.

I will try the breathing excersize thank you.

Jjb1983

2 likes
Reply

Out of yr replies . The therapist is the correct one. I suffered with very high anxiety for 2 years. Stop forcing recovery. Let yr mind rest . Instead of questioning every anxiety smyptom. You have got there in the first place by to much stress. The brain and body then says enough is enough and kinda disables us. The anxiety symptoms are all stress and to much of it.

I started with little steps and build on them. I had white knuckles when i drove from griping the wheel. I cld not initially go out. I was very frightened and listened to my mind that i cld not go out. I started here with a walk round a small block and back. After a week of doing i did one and a bit round. Slowley increase.

Its all about baby steps. Like learning to walk again.

Dont feed yr self negative sayings. Change i cant to i can do small.

I bet for most of you there was stresful things in yr life before this.

In mine my mother died. I then went into looking after my dad inbetween working fulltime on a shift pattern of 6 days on and 3 off. My marriage had gone due to violence over many years.

During bringing up three children aswell. Plus my younger daughter got into things when she was young.

Stop fighting give yr body chance to recover. You are just not well at the mo. You will recover believe me. .

Also ensure doing things you like or did. Even if read a book allday. Couloring is good. I did these things each day until they became new habits in my life.

I also took up learning to draw. Look at occupying yr mind with stuff other than constant worrying which adds more stress on to stress. Divert yr mind sometimes.

I was also a member of this site for the 2 yrs i suffered for. Due to fighting like you are.

Bonnie x

1 like
Reply

Totally identify with this. I keep telling myself that nothing lasts forever. I also often make up stories in my head about any pedestrians that may be about or think up silly rhymes for number plates. Thinking of a treat when I get back also helps.

Good luck.

4 likes
Reply

This is called geounding which is very good tchnique once you get to understand how it works and how to properly do it excellent stuff!

3 likes
Reply

Forestina had a great idea called grounding which in a way yes you pick things out of the environment and focus on it and then say 5 things then pick another thing say another 5 its really just basic distraction in all honesty

Another technique was mentioned earlier about breathing the best breathing technique that helps me is

In through your nose for 3-4seconds hold it for 2 seconds then exhale out of your mouth for 4 seconds this calms your nervous system down if you do it for 1 minute or even 5 trycit out next time traffic lights usually last 1 minute some can be longer so if anything close your eyes and breathe

Focus on lyrics or a beat of the song and start tapping away dont look at the traffic light youll know when it hits green either by a honk or by the color green being bright (at night) day time youll get honks haha but really focusing on lyrics sing along if you know the song even if you dont sing it as best as you can haha

Listen to speeches kn topics you like it makes it seem you have company and you can just focus oncthe persons speech or voice which eve you prefer

I dont condone being on phone while operating a car but.. at lights im always on my phone just so I distract myself because I too hate being “stuck” at traffic lights or traffic in general but a quick browse of recent conversations on my texts or if you have instagram or any other social media outlet scroll the feed AGAIN i do not condone this but it does help me.. so i figured id suggest it

Best of luck pal

3 likes
Reply

Anxious2befree, the best thing to do in the situation you describe is to do nothing.

You know from experience that a panic attack can't kill you or disable you or drive you insane. Anxiety does not have the power to do that.

O.K., panic attacks are horrible to experience but I still say do nothing. Except to talk down the panic, reason with yourself, accept it calmly and without generating more and more fear on which highly strung nerves and panic thrive. Accept it calmly and deny it the fear hormone it feeds on.

A panic attack is a dreadful feeling but I still say do nothing. Except what Jennylove12 suggests which is to say breathe in slowly and fill your lungs, hold it a couple of seconds, then beathe out slowly, pause and repeat. This releases natural tranqillisers within the body that have a calming influence.

By doing nothing and learning to accept the bad feeling for the time being you will stop frightening yourself half to death, you will stop feeding your over sensitive nerves with more fear hormones, and in time your nerves return to normal and the panic attacks become just an unpleasant memory.

But you must accept them for the moment to prove to yourself they are really no more than a hiccup in your frazzled nervous system which cannot harm you and will pass with time.

2 likes
Reply

I agree, Jeff! I think 'ritualising' a situation with too many coping strategies can actually become counterproductive and fuel panic further. Acceptance is definitely the key (and it's not always easy, but is the only tried and true way).☺

4 likes
Reply

Thank you Jeff I'm going to try breathing and calm myself as I head towards the traffic lights that way I should be able to sit there without the panic coming on. Fingers crossed :)

1 like
Reply

Also play music loud and sing along.

Bonnie

X

Reply

Try focusing on things around you. Then describe them. I see a drink. It is cold and refreshing. It might be bubbly. I see a light. It is red. It shines bright but sometimes changes. Very small details like a running documentary of each thing you see. People in cars. Anything. I made a post similar to this on how to avoid panic attacks. Check it out. It helps even in the rarest form. I can’t remember all of it when I’m on the verge but I improvise. Use all your senses. It helps.

1 like
Reply

Thank you I try to focus on things around me but the fear is so intense it's so hard to focus but I'm going to give it another go. X

Reply

I so get what you are saying.

The panic comes on so fast, doesn't it?

when I get into a traffic jam, I look around as to where I can get out and run off with my hair on fire. :0

IT gets my attention so fast, that that alone freaks me out.

When Jeff1943 posted about Claire Weeks and ACCEPTING the creepy, freaky feelings, that was the first time, I had something to work with.

I was stuck, in traffic, no where to run, no where to get off the highway so I since I had to sit there even though I thought my gut was going to "blow" I think about accepting the feelings. *exhale* not so easy eh?

This site has let me know that all of you ( on this thread) feel like I do, so in my mind, I pretend that all of your are saying, "it's ok, we get it, you will get through this, I'm here with you)

Imagination got me into the panic, so imagination is going to help get me out.

2 likes
Reply

That's a great way to think. I'm going to work on a technique to calm myself so I don't get the panic xx

Reply

Forget all coping strategies. This just prolongs suffering because you are avoiding. To be free from inappropriate anxiety, learn to face the feelings of fear head on and do nothing about it. It isn’t the driving you fear the most, it is the feelings of panic you fear the most. Learn to cope with the feelings the right way by doing nothing about them and you can travel anywhere. If your anxiety didn’t focus on driving, travelling etc, it will pick on something else. Everyone on this website is overly anxious about something or other. Going out, relationships, health, compulsive behaviours, intrusive thoughts, physical symptoms etc etc. They all have been thing in common. FEAR. Or, in the vast majority of cases, fear of the feelings of fear. The only way to win is to go towards your fears and not to shy away from them. I learnt that it is not the places or situations which are the problem. They are your salvation because they release all that energy which needs to be released. The more you expose yourself to your fears, the more energy you release and the more you recover. Avoidance techniques suppress the release of energy which has nowhere to go so it stays trapped, coming up again and again until you fully allow it to released.

4 likes
Reply

Totally agree exposure is the greatest cure

1 like
Reply

Thank you so much I'm going to go for a drive and see how I go and if I can just get myself through the fear it will make my life so much better xx

Reply

how did you do?????

Reply

Hi Indigo I had a panic attack but not as bad as I have been.

Reply

Hi Anxious, My suggestion is two words....."Deep Breathing". Start practicing at home daily in doing proper deep breathing. Once you have retrained your body to breathe properly, it will come automatically whenever you feel anxious.

Whether driving, being stuck in traffic, shopping in a large store, talking on the phone, and even when relaxing....if you use deep breathing it will keep you in a continuous state of calm. It's amazing in how successful breathing is in reversing the signs of anxiety as well as allowing you to live a more normal life. Practice is important. YouTube has many deep breathing and meditation audio videos that can allow you to learn as well as show you how effective breathing can be.

Breathe :) xx

1 like
Reply

I totally agree it's my saviour For me breathing deeply in and out of my nose calms me every single time no matter how dreadful I feel x

2 likes
Reply

Thank you I'm going to try everyone's ideas I really appreciate it xx

1 like
Reply

What sort of thoughts are going through your mind as you are stopped What is it you fear ? I know how you feel I get panicky at certain places

Mindfulness might help as you sit there this might sound daft but look at the lights describe them to yourself or do a body scan starting with your feet are they relaxed go up to your legs and keep going all the time you are waiting while breathing in and out through your nose I know I'm making it sound simple but give it a go it will calm you down and distract you Good luck x

1 like
Reply

I think I panic that I'm going to have anxiety or a bad panic attack so I just want to get home. Thank you for your response

Reply

do you panic in a que, or anytime you have to wait?

Reply

Not a traffic lights in the car

Reply

I always find deep breathing through my nose when the panic is at its worst it always goes away I really hope you can overcome it as I know how horrible it is x

1 like
Reply

I agree with all of the advice. Just wanted to say I get those too and thought it was just me! It took 6 months but I can now face most lights.

1 like
Reply

I'm glad I'm not the only one but sad you are also suffering :(

1 like
Reply

This is my main challenge as well. I do everything possible to avoid lights and heavy traffic. Any updates on your progress?

Reply

You may also like...