Have you been experiencing FOBO? (Fear of Borders Opening)

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It is an interesting time for Australia with many border restrictions being relaxed and to re-open just in time for Christmas. For those in States who have had lockdowns and restrictions preventing them from entering other parts of Australia this is a welcome move. But for Territories and States who have been Covid free, this is no doubt causing anxiety at the thought of the virus entering your safe bubble. It is a hard pill to swallow to learn to ‘live with the virus’ when you have been virus free. It is normal to feel anxious, nervous or worried about the upcoming border opening and the unknown that brings.

For those who have experienced extended lockdowns, you may have had thoughts like “Am I the only one feeling overwhelmed by the idea of going ‘back to normal’?” and you are not alone. There are many people feeling overwhelmed by the idea of crowds, busy events and being back in the office.

It’s important to be patient with yourself and with your feelings. The pandemic has been hard for us all, and although we hear the phrase that we are all in it together, we have all experienced the effects differently.

Even positive change can lead to anxiety, and it can take time to readjust to things we have not done for a while. Feelings of anxiety are likely to pass with time as we get used to the “new normal” but it’s important to do what we can to take care of our mental health.

Here are some tips to help manage these feelings of anxiety or worry –

1. Go at your own pace. Don’t feel pressure from anyone to go somewhere or something. Do what is comfortable and feels right for you.

2. Challenge unhelpful thoughts: If you feel a stream of negative thoughts flow your mind, take a minute and reflect on what is rational and what is not. Sometimes your mind can exaggerate how scary things really are!

3. Do not avoid things entirely: Take things at your own pace and do what feels comfortable, but also remember that you must live! Do not avoid everything at once, take baby steps to getting back to normal.

4. Focus and act on what you can control: There is no point in fretting about pandemic, and politicians’ decisions and all the other things that you have no power in, focus on what you can do to manage how you feel.

5. Have conversations with friends and family about how you are feeling. You may realise that other people feel the same way, or will accommodate you in making you feel as comfortable as possible when asking to socialise etc.

The ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ is burning brighter — we just might adjust to it at different paces.

How are you feeling about the borders re-opening? Are you excited or will this mean you can see family for Christmas? Or perhaps you are feeling nervous and anxious about what this could mean?

If you feel you need to talk to someone, or would like further resources, please see below.

  • www.coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au
  • Lifeline on 13 11 14
  • Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
  • Headtohealth.gov.au