Using Mindfulness to Pass

Pre-driving test nerves and jitters are completely natural and normal. But sometimes, these can interfere with our ability to focus, think clearly and act in a timely manner, affecting driving test outcomes.

There are lots of different techniques we can try when we focus on overcoming potentially disruptive nerves before your driving test – and of course, everyone requires a slightly different approach.

What is mindfulness?

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Mindfulness is defined as awareness and practicing staying in the present moment, without judgement or concern. This observation of what’s happening in the here and now without projecting into the future or back into the past can be really useful for many different aspects of everyday life – not just your driving lessons. It’s a skill that Buddhist monks in particular have cultivated over many thousands of years, through disciplines like meditation and conscious breathing.

Benefits of mindfulness include:

– A calmer, clearer mind

– Better understanding of our emotions

– Feeling more focused and present in the here and now

– Reduced feelings of stress and anxiety

– More positive outlook

How does mindfulness work?

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Mindfulness might sound a little fluffy or woo-woo – but its benefits are firmly rooted in science. GPs are now prescribing mindfulness for anxious patients, and an increasing number of studies are being conducted on how it can produce genuine changes in the brain which help to minimise mental stress as well as physical symptoms such as sweating, shaking or shallow breathing.

Human brains naturally tend to focus on the past or the future, applying the knowledge of the past and projected potential outcomes to what’s happening in the present. Of course, this can cause a huge amount of. – but it also takes you away from what’s happening in the here and now. When you think you’ll make a mistake when driving, for example, you might instantly think:

‘Oh no, I’m going to mess it all up like I did last time.’

Applying a past mistake with a future prediction causes you to believe that the thing you don’t want to happen will happen, taking you away from what you’re doing right now, reducing the mental energy you have to focus and making it harder to rectify that mistake. Remember, your brain isn’t a fortune teller – it’s just trying to predict what will happen to keep you safe based on a previous event or belief, which ironically has the effect of actually triggering a similar outcome through causing you emotional stress.

Modern lifestyles also cause us to be incredibly overstimulated, making it even more difficult to slow down and stay in the present moment. Mindfulness can help you to focus better and act more consciously, in turn enabling you to become a much better driver.

How to practice mindfulness to prepare for your driving test

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There are a number of different mindfulness techniques you can try – so which you choose depends on what works best for you personally. To work well, mindfulness needs to be practiced on a consistent basis. You won’t see results over night – instead, it’s a case of training your brain to respond differently. This can be a challenge initially as you’ll be tempted to react in the same way as you always have done – but with time, it’ll become a very useful habit.

Of course, mindfulness makes up one aspect of a stress-free experience when learning to drive – external elements such as sound tuition, sensitive support and having as little pressure as possible applied on you to take and pass your test quickly are also key.