Feeling FOGO (Fear of Going Out) as you Face the World

Freaking out about Going Out? You are not Alone.

Do you have "Re-entry Anxiety?"

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Diane Lilli
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The American Psychological Association reports about half of Americans are anxious about any and all in-person interactions after being alone for so long inside and masked outside. This pandemic reality  was named by the experts as "re-entry anxiety."

Maybe you're vaccinated and maybe you're not. (Get vaccinated!)

This weekend marks the first time millions of people will be going outside to mingle with others without having to wear a mask outside or a mask inside if they are vaccinated.

It's a big deal. Imagine if you plan one party a year combining your birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's,  and every major U.S. holiday.  The stress from throwing a major, all-holiday party would be incredible.

Your re-birthed socializing this holiday weekend and then going forward this summer will have anxiety booby traps along the way. When you go out and mingle again, emerging from your lockdown, you probably won't feel like you did only a year ago.  FOGO  is real, but you can learn to deal with it.

Most of us, who are not essential workers, have been isolating on our little islands for about fifteen months. Now we are able to go to the beach, the city, movies, or wherever we want with loosened pandemic guidelines.

But are you really ready to hug? Eager to show your entire face? How about dating or getting close to anyone right about now?  We have been isolating in order to keep safe from Covid-19 and also to protect others. It makes sense that internally, we are associating being close to others can lead to illness or. death. 

Your re-entry into society may not be easy.

Social anxiety is real and it's in full bloom this Pandemic -spring. (Yes, there is still a pandemic.)

The American Psychological Association reports about half of Americans are anxious about any and all in-person interactions after being alone for so long inside and masked outside. This pandemic reality  was named by the experts as "re-entry anxiety."

By sheltering at home, which was a very smart choice during the pandemic, many millions of people have become depressed and afraid of going out again. avoidance behavior. Isolating at home has led many people to become overly sensitive by their internal cycle of stress, and activated their sensitized fight-or-flight system.

Now add in the way you may feel about the way your look, including your weight or perhaps the way your natural face and body, appear to you when you look in the mirror.

The American Psychological Association (APA) has some helpful information via a survey about the state of Americans as we leave our pandemic bubbles.

"We’ve been concerned throughout this pandemic about the level of prolonged stress, exacerbated by the grief, trauma, and isolation that Americans are experiencing. This survey reveals a secondary crisis that is likely to have persistent, serious mental and physical health consequences for years to come,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr, PhD, APA’s chief executive officer. “Health and policy leaders must come together quickly to provide additional behavioral health supports as part of any national recovery plan.”

Now what? Here are some tips from experts on how to be around people again.

  1. If you feel anxious and afraid to go out, start small. You don't have to go to a packed beach or anywhere with many people. Meet up with one or two friends or go to a park that is not teeming with people. 
  2. Psychologists recommend visualizing your experience around people before you go out among people. Imagine the people you like or love and how great it would feel to see them close-up and personal. If you feel anxious, try to break down the root of your anxiety. What is stopping you from feeling fine when you go outside again and become more social? Is it fear, anxiety, and if so, is it logical or something you can face slowly and safely? 
  3. Create an "if-then" plan. I use this all the time since I suffer from IBS, and always need to know where bathrooms are located. The idea is to plot out your plan before you go out So, you may think: If I see people I know in the park, I will go say helo but won't hug, and then if it's too many people and crowded, I will stay around my friends and slowly re-enter the group."
  4. You can also plan your first outings gently. Call someone to meet you for coffee or a drink or dinner. 

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