Paul Abraham: Tackling the fear going ‘back to normal’

Paul Abraham, speaking at Bramley Lawn.

By Paul Abraham of

Now that travel and restrictions brought in to place due to the pandemic are increasingly being lifted as the weeks go by, the thought of going out in to crowded places – and in many cases going back to an office environment – can now feel very daunting and even scary.  

After you’ve been inside for a long time, it can feel very strange to go outside and you have perhaps lost confidence in things you haven’t done in a while.

The use of cramped public transport and face-to-face work meetings can be situations that might have you worried or stressed about, however, we should try to focus on positive coping strategies such as exercise, meditation, walking outside and fresh air rather than eating extra, drinking more or smoking within our own four walls.

We need to monitor our inner dialogue and ask ourselves whether our thoughts are helpful or if they’re contributing to our feelings of anxiety.

There are a number of steps you can take to deal with feelings of increased anxiety when leaving the house.  

Deep and slow breathing exercises can help as can having someone with you as you make your first steps back to what used to be “normal” situations up to a couple of years ago.

If your fear of going out has become a serious issue then you may be suffering from agoraphobia and it is advisable to seek professional help. Agoraphobia is defined as the overwhelming fear of being in a place or situation where you feel that escape would be difficult, or where you are worried about having a panic attack.

Some of the places and situations that can trigger agoraphobia are as follows:

  • Using public transportation.
  • Being in enclosed spaces, like the shops.
  • Being in open spaces.
  • Standing in line or being in a crowd.

Some of the main symptoms of agoraphobia are:

  • A rapid heart rate.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Shaking.
  • An upset stomach which could result in diarrhoea.
  • The fear of panic or anxiety attacks.

The good news is that you may just be feeling anxious due to getting out of the habits of doing things things which you did before the pandemic on a regulare basis, very much like going back to school after the summer holidays.  

If however, you think you are starting to suffer from agoraphobia then due to the advances over the past couple of decades there are now may ways it can be treated and your local medical experts will be able to advise on which is the best course of action for you.


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