After so many weeks of isolation and lockdown, some people may be feeling stressed or anxious about the thought of venturing out again. Here are our top tips for overcoming the fear of going out.
Our lives have changed beyond recognition over the last few months as we try to carry on as best we can while respecting a novel virus. So how can you make sure you’re safe while still enjoying as full a life as possible?
Staying safe at home
Although being completely isolated at home may protect you from the virus it could cause other problems such as loneliness and mental health issues. If you observe social distancing and restrict the number of people who visit, you can remain safe in your own home and also be sociable. If you have a garden it’s best to socialise there as transmission of the virus is thought to be less likely outdoors. Keep the numbers down, no more than two or three people at a time and keep your distance.
Clean chairs and sofas or anywhere else someone from outside your home has been. If you’re in doubt about the safety of having people over, it’s best not to.
Don’t forget Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, FaceTime and other means to keep in touch with people online. There’s also the good old phone!
Staying safe while out and about
Safety is a key issue for Scheme drivers. While out and about, follow Government guidelines and remember to keep your distance from people outside your household, use sanitiser and avoid touching your face. As you can lower the risks of transmission by reducing the number of people you come into close contact with, try to avoid peak travel times on public transport.
Scheme customer Julie Simpson has an autistic son, Joe, 16, and they find going out particularly challenging. So she and husband Stephen take Joe for drives down country lanes. “We all plan a route together making maps of where we’ll go. That adds to the fun before you set off. We get plenty of use of our Scheme car which is more important than ever to us because we can’t take Joe on public transport. Our Scheme car has given us so much freedom.”
Make sure your Scheme car is in good condition as you may not have used it much in lockdown. Check out places before you go to make sure they’re open, are accessible for people with disabilities, including hidden disabilities such as autism, and especially check the toilets are open.
Julie has started to take Joe out again because amenities now have guidelines on their websites about how they’re handling COVID. “We took Joe to Southport Pleasure Beach. You had to pre-book your ticket online then show it on your phone when you got there. This kept the numbers down and rides were cleaned before and after and kept well spaced. So we felt safe and Joe really enjoyed himself.”
They went to the cinema which also required pre-booking. Everyone had to wear masks as they went in, queuing was in one direction only, seating was spaced out and everything had to be bought beforehand or paid for using contactless. Once inside they were allowed to take their masks off.
Fear of going out
Known as FOGO, Fear of Going Out has replaced FOMO, the Fear Of Missing Out. FOMO is how many people feel when they hear about someone having a great holiday or attending a marvellous concert or festival. You fear you’ve missed out.
Having stayed in for months or only made very short journeys to the shops, it may be difficult to think about venturing outside again. Julie has some reassuring words: “We’ve been trying to make places more autism-friendly and now many places are just that! There’s social distancing, mask-wearing and hand sanitiser available. People with autism don’t like to be too close. They prefer smaller groups and a slower pace and that’s happening at many events and amenities now. So if this continues, Autistic people will benefit.”
Julie also finds it very reassuring not to watch the news! “The advice keeps changing so we just do what we’ve always done which is to wash our hands frequently and especially before and after going out, wear a mask when out and maintain social distancing. We’ve found it a lot easier to cope by following those simple guidelines.”
Not going out at all could make you, as Julie puts it, “stir crazy”. Especially if you don’t have a garden. If you’re afraid of venturing out again, take tiny steps to begin with. Maybe a local restaurant or cafe or somewhere that has outside seats. Meet friends in a park or outdoor space where you can socially distance.
And remember a Scheme car gives you the freedom of the road and automatic social distancing. So you can always go for a drive – and it’ll be good for your car too!