Signs you have FOGO (that's Fear Of Going Out) – and easy ways to stop your anxiety

Following the distinct lack of festive frolics in 2020, many of us are eager to dust off our glad rags.

But for anyone anxious at the mere thought, these top tips will help you to face the music.

After the damp squib of last year’s celebrations, it’s looking like we may be able to have something of a “normal” Christmas this time around – hooray!

While for some it’s the best news ever, others will not share their enthusiasm. This festive season might signal the first time they’ve had to brave a room jam-packed with people.

More than a third of the population was nervous about restrictions easing,* so it’s natural that the impending social calendar might raise anxiety levels. 

“Most of us have been left with some collateral damage when it comes to how we feel,” explains psychologist Emma Kenny.

“Covid has been traumatic, but now is the time to start rebuilding our lives and enjoying the things we missed out on last year.” 

So, with your diary filling up and the nerves starting to build, here Emma shares her tips for staving off the anxiety to party your way into 2022.

FACE YOUR FEARS

Going “out-out” after so long might feel like a baptism of fire, says Emma.

Her advice? “You can burn slowly or you can do it fast. I would argue that doing it quickly is more effective.

Like any exposure therapy, the more brutal you are with yourself, the better the result.”

But, she adds, it’s important to recognise that you can’t confront the issue without facing your fears.

Before going out, it can help to write down your concerns, to understand why the situation might make you feel unsafe.

“Go through the list and question whether each worry is valid,” says Emma. “Sometimes seeing something in black and white makes it less scary.”

If you still don’t feel up to mingling in large groups, build up to it and start by seeing groups of three or four people at a time, then six or seven, before larger groups.

“That way, by the time we reach Christmas, you should be in a better place.”

ZONE OUT

Before hitting the town, be sure to give yourself enough time to get ready and relax.

“The reason you feel nervous about going to that nightclub or work do is because you’re in a state of heightened anxiety,” explains Emma. “You need to treat that with calm.”

Start by asking yourself what makes you feel relaxed, and attempt to work it into your evening.

“Try a simple meditation using an app, such as Calm or Headspace, before you go out. Alternatively, go for a long walk, read a book or take a bath,” Emma suggests.

“Use whatever methods you employed to relax during lockdown to your advantage. All of these things will calm you down before you expose yourself to the stressful situation.”

GROUND YOURSELF

A grounding object is something that you can hold or touch while at the party, which will give you something to focus on if you are feeling anxious.

“Some people choose objects with a special meaning or memory attached to them,” Emma says.

“Others choose objects with a soothing texture, such as a pebble.

"Pop it in your pocket before you head out and every time you feel it or look at it, it will remind you of home and thus help to restore calm.

"Smells can work in a similar way, too – I use a tissue with a peppermint scent on it, which I can sniff if I want to relax.”

STAY POSITIVE

Imagine all the great things that might happen if you do go out. It’s all about visualising the positives before you even set foot in the room.

“Picture yourself being asked out on a date, or someone you respect saying how fab you look,” says Emma.

“Visualise yourself and your friends laughing, smiling and having fun. Thinking about all the good things that might happen will make you feel more confident when you arrive, and will ease anxiety. 

"It will also remind you of all the reasons why you used to go to events like these pre-Covid. Think about what you are going to say to people. Come up with five questions that you can ask strangers to reduce anxiety and help build up your self-confidence.”

BE GRATEFUL

Think about all the things you missed out on last Christmas, and be grateful that this year we can have some kind of normality.

“Recognise how awful it was to have been without your friends and family,” Emma says.

“This year, you can have as many gatherings as you like, with as many different people as you like. You’ve still got your health. You’ve made it through a global pandemic. Be grateful for that and see that now is the time to go out and enjoy life.”

BUDDY UP

It might seem simple, but don’t underestimate the power of having a friend by your side.

Take someone with you who you trust, who will support you and help ease you back into social situations.

”Make sure you have close buddies with you, who understand how you are feeling and will reassure you,” says Emma.

Preparation is key, though, so speak to them beforehand and lay out your position so they understand how you feel. “You could talk through some coping strategies with them and have a safe word so they know when you feel you have to leave,” suggests Emma.

And don’t forget, you don’t have to stay all night long.

“Initially, 15 minutes might be enough and you can build up,” she adds.

“But you do need to put yourself back into these situations if you want to overcome the fear.”

STEP OUT OF THE SHADOWS

Try not to hide away in the corner – mingle as much as you can.

“Again, the tougher you are with yourself, the better the result,” says Emma. “You’ll have more fun and might be more inclined to do it again, too.

"Talk to people and make sure your body language is really open. Smile, make eye contact.

"And remember, there is a huge link between feeling good and looking good, so put on your best frock and make sure you look and feel a million dollars before heading out of your front door.”

    Source: Read Full Article