Remember FOMO? The fear of missing out? Ah, those were the days. Now, in the (soon-to-be) post-pandemic era, you’re probably experiencing the opposite: FOGO—ya know, the fear of going out. You might’ve even heard a different, more clinical term for it. Cave syndrome. Melba Newsome explains the rise of cave syndrome in Scientific American: “After a year in isolation, many people who have developed an intimate understanding of what it means to socially isolate are afraid to return to their former lives despite being fully vaccinated.”
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As resilient as we are—you only have to look at the loaves of sourdough and racks of tie-dye to prove it—our brains have been deeply affected by the past year. If you’ve been stuck inside and social distancing, adjusting to back to “normalcy” probably feels really strange. And of course, there’s the impact on our kids. So how much will this cave syndrome play out in terms of anxiety? We turned to trauma and resiliency expert Leo F. Flanagan, Jr., PhD, to learn just what types of anxieties he thinks will be popping up as we emerge from our caves—and what to do when we spot them.