While learning to drive can be a fun and rewarding experience, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. When the day of your practical test rolls around, the nerves are probably going to kick in. Whether it’s only minor nerves or major anxiety, there are things you can do to relax before your test!
Read them, try them and feel your nerves melt away.
1. Be Refreshed
We don’t know about you, but one of the first things we address when thinking about any kind of vaguely stressful situation is where the food and drink comes into play. In terms of the driving test, it’s certainly important that you’re fed and watered before you set off.
You might even want to consider taking a small snack and bottle of water with you to the test centre. That way, you can ensure that you have energy for the test and your blood sugar won’t take a dip at an unfortunate moment. Don’t just grab whatever’s available, though. You see, certain food and drink can actually make your nerves worse. The big one to avoid is caffeine. Sorry, coffee lovers, but this stuff will just make you jittery and possibly upset your stomach. Instead, we suggest reaching for some squash or plain old water.
As for food? Slow releasing energy and relatively low sugar is what you’re aiming for. We’re talking wholemeal toast, bananas, nuts… etc.
2. Comfortable Clothing
Put a little bit of thought into what you’re going to wear on the big day. It’s not about dressing to impress, but rather, finding what you feel comfortable and relaxed in.
Now, we’re not saying you should show up to the test centre in your PJs, but do avoid wearing anything too restrictive or inappropriate for driving. Those skinny jeans may make you feel a million bucks, but when you’re trying to pull off the perfect parallel park and your waistband is digging into your stomach, they’ll lose their appeal.
As far as we’re concerned, elasticated waist bands are up there with sliced bread—inventions that have truly enriched our lives. Selecting the right footwear is also very important. Pick comfortable, suitable shoes that you have worn before when driving. The day of your test is not the time to break in a new purchase or experiment with something different, so keep a lid on that inner fashionista. And don’t even think about wearing flip-flops
3. Positive Reflections
One of the best ways to overcome negative thoughts is to combat them with some positive ones. That can often be easier said than done, but with driving, there are some obvious facts that should make you feel better. If test day has arrived it means you have lots of driving experience under your belt. All those hours spent behind the wheel have paid off. Think about how little you knew about driving when you started, and where you are now—that’s progress that you just can’t ignore!
Plus, if you’re taking the practical test, it means you’ve already completed the theory test. You probably had to deal with some nerves before taking that and you managed to persevere and pass anyway. Now it’s simply time for round 2!
4. Take a Deep Breath
You might notice that when you feel nervous, your breath gets short and shallow. This is no good when you’re trying to achieve a relaxed state. Thankfully, you have the ability to control your own breathing, which will encourage your entire system to ease up. When your nerves start to creep in, take a big inhale, hold for a couple of seconds, and exhale for at least 3 seconds.
If possible, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Repeat this a good few times and you should feel a difference almost immediately. The great thing about breathing exercises is that you don’t need any equipment and you can do them anywhere! Try this method at home, on the way to your test and even at the test centre itself.
5. Talk It Out
While there are plenty of things you can do on your own to relax (heads out of the gutter people!), don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you need it. In fact, having a supportive chat with a loved one can do wonders for calming your nerves. Depending on your living situation, you could talk to a family member, roommate or give a friend a call. A few kind words from someone you trust can make all the difference.
If it helps, talk your nerves through with your instructor too. Experienced ADIs are used to dealing with nervous learners and will no doubt have plenty of useful advice. Plus, if they’re taking you to your test, they obviously believe in your driving abilities! As we’re on the subject of other people, a lot of learners find that test day is a lot less stressful if they keep their test date under wraps. You might want to consider leaving most of your nearest and dearest in the dark until you’ve passed—it should lessen the pressure you feel on the big day itself.
6. Think Of It As Another Drive
Once the build up is over and it’s time for the main event, some people find that their nerves reach a crescendo. Hopefully this won’t be the case, as we’ve already provided you with numerous tips that can keep the nerves at bay.
If you do find yourself shaking in your boots, the good news is that this feeling shouldn’t last very long. As soon as you’re behind the wheel, try to focus on the driving, rather than the examiner sitting next to you. Again, this is easier said than done, but you’d be amazed what you can achieve when you put your mind to it.
A great way to help yourself relax during the test itself is to treat it like any other drive. Obviously it needs to be a careful, smooth(ish) drive, but it doesn’t have to differ that much from those you take with your instructor. You’ve already mastered the skills, it’s just time to put them into practice. And, if the nerves start creeping back in, take a deep breath and carry on.
How To Relax Before Your Driving Test
With these tips in your arsenal, you should be able to transform from a ball of nerves to a totem of tranquility. Don’t worry about trying to implement all of them. Treat this like a pick’n’mix of tips. Select the ones that suit you and tailor them to your needs.
Then all that’s left to do is show off your driving skills, and as far as we’re concerned, you got this!