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Rules Are Lifting But You Still Don’t Want To Go Out? It Might Be FOGO

'Fear of going out' is valid, and you're certainly not alone in feeling this way.

As pubs begin to fill one table at a time and friends sing cheers of the good ol' days, we mustn't forget those among us steeped in FOGO.

It's a new phenomenon, but not a surprising one given the drastic social distancing measures we've endured -- and even adjusted to -- over the past several weeks.

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A far cry from FOMO, the fear of missing out, FOGO is concerned with feelings of overwhelm and apprehension, knowing our social lives are soon set to return to 'normal'. Not that any of us can grasp what normal is right now.

"Several clients have disclosed that with the Government restrictions recently lifting, their anxiety has in fact increased," clinical counsellor and psychotherapist Julie Sweet told 10 daily.

Clinical counsellor and psychotherapist Julie Sweet. Image: Supplied

The mental health expert explains that no two people are completely identical in their emotions and experiences. She has found introverts, extroverts and ambiverts alike have expressed feelings of FOGO.

"They’ve adapted to a new normal with the implemented restrictions and now to begin to immerse themselves with socialising or pressure to engage or feeling obligated to interact with people again can bring about demands and fundamental change. A change that some would prefer not to readopt."

Cut yourself a break. If your gut is churning at the thought of loud social gatherings or intense one-on-ones, you're not a bad friend. Take a breath and forgive yourself for feeling this way.

"Compassion towards self is critical," said Sweet. "Being mindful of our inner critic is also vital and bring our awareness to self care is paramount."

When your bedroom is your safe space. Image: 'Muriel's Wedding'

Once you've reconciled with the idea that you're experience FOGO, you then have to bite the bullet and express this to the people in your life who are asking you to spend time with them.

Sweet recommends being honest and upfront with your loved ones about how you're feeling. Let them know it's likely not a forever thing, and you need time to ease back into socialising.

A helpful tool is to express how you feel and what you need.

"It’s always beneficial if people bear in mind that feelings are fluid so what we feel today we may not feel in a few weeks time."

Alternatively, if you're concerned your FOGO has gone on for too long and you think you're ready to confront the issue, the psychotherapist suggests you take it one step at a time by setting up clear boundaries.

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"Start out with demonstrating boundaries that once again feel congruent and safe, then practice applying these with your networks both personal and professional."

Figure out what works for you. Be that, 'I only want to socialise during the day,' or only for one hour at a time, or at a cafe but not a pub. Then look at who and what groups you can handle right now.

Perhaps you're not ready to dive into a gossip with your office desk buddy, but you do want to see your closest friend.

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"Around FOGO -- do what serves you," Sweet concluded.

Know that just because everyone else is hooting and cheering that our social lives are returning to normal, it doesn't mean you need to jump right in.

Social distancing has taken an enormous toll on our mental health and well-being. Forgive yourself for having feelings, and with time and patience, life will sort itself out.

Julie Sweet is a clinical Psychotherapist at Seaway Counselling and Psychotherapy, practicing in Sydney’s eastern suburbs in Bondi Junction and you can learn more about her by visiting online at www.seawaycounselling.com.au

Featured Image: 'Muriel's Wedding'