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After long weeks of being held inside the home to be safe from coronavirus, the time has come to start regaining normality, the new normal. However, some people feel anxiety and fear of leaving the safety of their homes, it is what is known as cabin syndrome. Here are the tips from specialists to get through it

The COVID-19 pandemic drew a new reality. Suddenly the workplaces, restaurants, cinemas, and our entire world were reduced to our own home.

It's been two months and some people consider their home to be the only safe place and therefore prefer not to have to take to the streets, even if the authorities allow it to be done.

This is known as cabin syndrome. It is not a pathology as such, but a mood, mental and emotional state that has been studied in people who, after spending a time of forced seclusion, have experienced difficulties in returning to their pre-confinement situation.

Carmen Martini, a business doctor, explains that prior to COVID-19, this situation affected people who had been in prison for years, who had been the victims of a kidnapping or even some sick people who had been admitted to a hospital for a long time.

Today, when confinement measures begin to relax, cabin syndrome emerges, as there are people who live around the street with anguish and insecurity.

Dr. Martini stresses that cabin syndrome involves a cluster of negative sensations, including a phobia of going out on the street, which can very seriously condition the return to normality of those who experience it.

That's how cabin syndrome affects us.

The specialist states that one of the factors that may be at the origin of this condition is overexposure to information about the virus and its consequences.

In this sense, it advises to find a balance between positive and negative information, so that the latter does not fuel anxiety. The resilience and mental strength of each is essential, he says.

María José Collado, PhD in psychology and co-director of the Centro Cuarto de Contadores, in Leganés (Madrid), says that it is normal for us to take a look at adapting to a new situation in which we feel that our lives and that of those of us who care is at risk.

"A lot of people are having a hard time getting back out on the street: what if I run into someone and they're contagious? What if I play here or there? And the answer, at times, will be a catastrophe behind each, what if...? It is important that we be realistic about the risk we take when we go out on the street, nor minimize it as if it were impossible to spread or magnify it as if we were irretrievably going to catch it," he stresses.

"With proper hygiene and maintaining the safe distance with other people it is very unlikely that we will be able to get infected. So, it's critical to be cautious, but also realistic," he stresses.

In this sense, the psychologist says that we have a lot of control over the threat, because the risk of contagion depends to a large extent on our hygiene and the protection we wear.

How to deal with the fear of leaving home

Dr. Collado stresses that it is important that each person "put on their times and take their own steps without feeling forced, for sure". Similarly, Dr. Martini states that we must not force change, for it must be gradual.

Tony Crespo, a psychologist in the Psychiatry Unit of the Hospital La Salud in Valencia, also stresses the need to face this challenge gradually.

The specialist explains that when people are exposed to situations that are not to their liking or that cause them fear, such as going back out into the streets after confinement and making routine life, the only way to overcome that fear will be staggered.

"The only way to overcome it will be gradually, that is, with systematic desensitization. Psychologists use this in psychotherapy to reduce the patient's anxiety and phobic fears, gradually bringing him closer to that fear," he says.

Back to "normal"

Dr. Martini points out that it must be considered that the message received so far has been that the danger is out and that we must remain confined at home. This increases uncertainty when it comes to going out on the street and getting back to normal.

In addition, when we leave, we must maintain social distance, so we will not be able to fully recover our old customs.

Work, leisure, and social relations will not be exactly like before the pandemic and we will have to incorporate into our day-to-day some of the habits acquired in recent weeks.

Martini points out that following recommended health standards such as hand washing, or the use of masks will provide us with safety and make it easier for us to deal with the danger.

Fernando Chacón, dean of the Official College of Psychology of Madrid, recalls that "the ability to adapt the human being is enormous. We have come where we have come as a species because we have adapted to very exceptional circumstances and we will also adapt to this."