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2020 was a year like no other. Never before have we stayed cooped up at home, dealing with severe stress and anxiety over what’s going to happen next. A virus altered the way we live and work, and so much more. And now as the world is slowly and steadily getting back on its feet (hello, vaccination), there is even more anxiety. Why may you ask? Well, a lot of people have FOGO, or what we call fear of going out. Some also call it the ‘cave syndrome’.
So, what is it? Since most of our time was spent indoors last year, we almost forgot how to socialise and interact with people. Of course, the situation can be worse for those who are already struggling with anxiety and mental health disorders. Last year, it was hard for them to stay isolated and “not meet people”; but this year, it is difficult to “make social interaction”.
According to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association survey, 49% of adults reported feeling uncomfortable about returning to in-person interactions when the pandemic ends.
Experts say it could be similar to agoraphobia, which is characterised by the extreme fear of being in public spaces. In some cases, it also extends to a situation where you are unable to receive help. The increased levels of stress are observed in those who are introverts and have anxiety, or in people who anyway prefer to stay home than going out. These are people who are filled with extreme distress, even at the thought of stepping out of the house.
It all boils down to communicating what you’re feeling with your close friends and family, so that they can support you and ease the transition. The first step is to begin seeing people you are comfortable with, of course taking all the necessary precautions.
Moreover, it is also important to take feedback from your peers to know what the situation looks like outside. For instance, if your neighbour went for a jog to the park, you could always check in to know what the scenario looks like outside. That will give you the confidence to slowly and steadily resume public activities.
Next, remember not to rush. It’s okay to take one step at a time. Not everyone is the same, and if you feel you need to transition into normal life slowly, there’s nothing wrong with that.
And in case nothing helps, you could always seek professional help. Having guidance and releasing what’s within you is going to make things a lot better. You can also join self-help groups online to talk about your anxieties; it will make you feel you’re not alone.