To go or not to go?

Forget FOMO (fear of missing out), do you have FOGO (fear of going out)? North Sydney clinical psychologist Dr Clinton Moore is here to help...

Article first appeared in northsider Winter 2020

"With the end of lockdown in sight we’re faced with yet another major adjustment; this time it’s the return to normality.


But despite the pubs reopening and the impending return of our beloved sports, life isn’t quite ‘normal’ and probably won’t be for some time.



There’s still a sense of apprehension for many, with anxiety around going to the shops or jumping on the train as it gets busy again.


Anxiety at its core is about threat. It’s about the risk of something bad happening in the

future. Normally our first instinct is to try and fix the problem coming our way, but COVID-19 poses a tricky dilemma. How do we solve the problem of an invisible threat?


The truth is that there’s no way to gain this certainty. Instead, we do what seems like the

sensible thing and try to regain some control in uncertain times. But control can be a funny

bedfellow. While control can give you a sense of security, it can slip from helpful to

unhelpful without much effort.


“How do we solve the problem of an invisible threat?”

Helpful control might look like washing your hands once before you eat. This would be a

non time consuming way of protecting yourself from COVID-19 that lets you still go about

your daily life.


Unhelpful control happens when you start to prioritise safety over meaningful activity in

life. In other words, you decide that the only acceptable risk is zero risk. While this might

seem to make sense in light of COVID-19, living your whole life locked away probably won’t

provide a great deal of fulfilment.


The first step to moving past control and getting back into the world is finding a way to

make some space for the uncertainty.


One of the best ways to do this is to connect with your values so you have a guide other

than anxiety to influence your actions. Start by writing a list of the things that matter most

to you in the world. This could be family, creativity, spirituality, achieving etc.


Once you have your list, you can start to check in and see whether your decision to stay

home is in line with the things that really matter to you. For example, would your value of

family be better served by another Zoom call or going to see them in person? When you

think in this way, you still make space for some of the anxiety, but you’re not letting

it dictate your life."


Dr Clinton Moore is the founder of Cadence Psychology - a North Sydney Clinical Psychology practice with a focus on helping people find their key to change. For more information head to cadencepsychology.com.au