Table of Contents
DRINKS at the local, a shopping trip, catching the bus, getting a haircut . . . little more than a year ago, these things were part and parcel of our everyday lives.
But after multiple lockdowns and months shut away, does the thought of these outings fill you with dread? If so, you could have what psychologist Emma Kenny calls “FOGO” – the fear of going out.
🔵 Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates…
After multiple lockdowns, does the thought of outings fill you with dread? You could be suffering from FOGO… the fear of going outCredit: Shutterstock
She says: “We have been told for months about the negative things that could happen if we venture outside. So getting back out there once restrictions lift is bound to cause anxieties. Signs include avoiding people, making excuses not to leave the house or being scared to answer the phone.
“Now is time to break that pattern of behaviour.”
Take our quiz to find out if you are suffering from FOGO. Then read Emma’s advice on how to get ready for post-lockdown life.
Is the thought of a trip to the hairdresser filling you with anxiety?Credit: Getty
- How anxious do you feel about restrictions lifting?
A. Not in the slightest. I have been bending the rules already.
B. Not particularly. I’m counting down the days.
C. I’m cautious but ready for life to get back to normal.
D. Overwhelmed and very worried.
- During lockdown, how often have you gone into a shop?
A. Twice a week or more.
B. Once a week.
C. Once a month.
D. Not at all.
- If you have been working from home, how have you found it?
A. I can’t wait to get back to the workplace.
B. It was a challenge at first but I soon adapted.
C. I’d be happier splitting my time 50/50 between home and the office from now on.
D. I’d work from home all the time, given the choice.
- How does the thought of going into a packed pub make you feel?
A. Try keeping me away.
B. I want to socialise but hope people will keep their distance.
C. I’m in no hurry and might stick to the park.
D. It wouldn’t bother me if the pubs stayed shut.
- Your child has been invited on their first sleepover in a year. How do you feel?
A. You packed them an overnight bag a week ago.
B. You will miss them but know they will have a great time.
C. You say you are happy for them to go but are secretly worried sick.
D. Tell them it’s a no-go. You refuse to let them out of your sight.
- When was the last time you picked up the phone to call a friend?
B. A few days ago.
C. More than a week ago.
D. It’s been months.
Soon the streets will fill again, so take our test to see if you are suffering from lockdown-induced FOGOCredit: AFP
LOWDOWN ON POST-LOCKDOWN
MOSTLY As . . . RARING TO GO. Lockdown has been a struggle and you are eager to reinvigorate your life the moment it lifts. It is likely you have deepened your feelings of gratitude towards those you hold dearest and as a social person, you feed off others’ energy. Don’t try to squeeze in too much, too soon, or you risk burnout.
MOSTLY Bs . . . GOING WITH THE FLOW. While you recognise the past year hasn’t been plain sailing, you have adapted well. You have a pragmatic attitude to life, accepting the highs and lows with equal grace. You enjoy social contact but are happy as long as you have your nearest and dearest around you. Lockdown has taught you to prioritise and treasure what you hold dearly. Keep it up!
MOSTLY Cs . . . FEELING SO-SO. Lockdown has been tough but you have enjoyed more flexible working and have realised you don’t rely too heavily on your social network. Working from home has likely reduced your stress levels and now you feel anxious about going back to “normal”. Take things slow at first. Once you get into the swing of things, you will wonder why you ever worried.
MOSTLY Ds . . . YOU’VE GOT FOGO. You are likely to be suffering from anxiety and could do with chatting to your GP. While it is understandable to feel stressed about changes to work patterns or to have some apprehension about the virus, professional help is essential when it becomes debilitating. You might need to get some expert advice on how to help manage the anxiety and gradually expose yourself to your fears.
WORRIED ABOUT COVID
Emma says: ‘Take small steps to prepare yourself for getting back outside’Credit: PA
EMMA SAYS: “Look at the real Covid evidence. More than half of the adult population have been vaccinated (31million) and death rates are relatively low.
“Take small steps to prepare yourself for getting back outside. Watch TV that shows busy streets or people having fun at packed-out music festivals.
“Start by walking to the end of your garden path one day, the end of the street the next, before tackling a trip to the local shop.
“Try not to catastrophise the situation in your mind. Even though it feels like the world has changed dramatically, your surroundings are the same as they were.”
NOT LOOKING YOUR BEST
Emma says: ‘Self-care is really powerful. If you are feeling a frump, use the time now to break bad habits’Credit: Getty
EMMA SAYS: “When we look in the mirror, it’s easy to zone in on the negatives. None of us have felt our best the past year, so use the next few weeks to reinvent yourself.
“Self-care is really powerful. If you are feeling a frump, use the time now to break bad habits. Set a morning alarm, get out of the joggers and dress like you would on a normal day.
“A bold hairstyle can breathe life back and a new sense of style will get you back in the mood to mingle.
“A British Heart Foundation survey found 26 per cent of women felt more confident wearing a fiery tone of lipstick. Put on your best outfit so you feel sharp.”
BEING SEPARATED FROM KIDS
Emma says that families who spend time together have happier and healthier kids who do better at schoolCredit: Getty
EMMA SAYS: “Studies have shown that families who spend time together – even just sitting together at mealtimes – have happier and healthier kids who do better at school.
“But children need independence too. You may need to rebuild kids’ confidence for life getting back to normal. If your child is invited on a sleepover, say you will pick them up if they feel uncomfortable, even late at night.
“If you are returning to work and have a child who is clingy, always say goodbye when you leave. Sneaking out can make them feel more anxious the next time you try it.”
Emma says: ‘Timetable regular days to yourself to recharge, don’t slip into a hectic lifestyle’Credit: Getty – Contributor
EMMA SAYS: “If every weekend before the pandemic was packed full, you might not want to get straight back into the rat race.
“The past year is likely to have shown you who your true friends are so chalk off those who drag you down. A social life is important for wellbeing but it is quality over quantity.
“Timetable regular days to yourself to recharge, don’t slip into a hectic lifestyle.
“Learning diaphragmatic breathing techniques such as breathing in for a count of four, holding for four and exhaling for four, helps reduce your anxiety if you start feeling out of your depth. It is natural to feel anxious.
“Everyone is in the same boat.”