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Not Wanting To Leave The House Or Do Anything: Strategies For Moving Forward


Explore insights for coping with not wanting to leave the house or do anything. Find support and guidance to help you through tough times.

It’s perfectly normal to experience times when we would prefer to stay in the comfort of our own home. Perhaps poor weather has limited outdoor activity, or we just feel as though we’re peopled out and need time to recoup. But when we find ourselves struggling with a fear of stepping into the outside world, it can begin to affect our well-being and impact our daily lives.

We might fall into a spiral of worry and anxiety, struggling with distressing feelings, and worrying that others may judge us for hiding away. Our home is our safe space and provides us with a sense of control. Here, we can wrap ourselves in our metaphorical blanket, safe from any potential harm or danger the outside world could expose us to. 

How we might feel

During this time, our emotions may feel too much, and that’s okay. These feelings are messages from our body, reminding us to look after ourselves and regain our power.

Here are some of the ways we may feel:

Hopelessness

Living with a continual sense of fear can leave us feeling hopeless. The things we used to enjoy may no longer interest us, and we struggle to imagine that things could ever get better. When we are struggling to shift our minds out of this mental state, it can be helpful to accept our feelings and validate them, rather than judge them or push them down. Reminding ourselves that our feelings are temporary can provide a sense of acceptance and comfort. There is light at the end of the tunnel, even if we can’t see it just now. 

Wanting to hide away

Home is our safe space, where we can keep things the same and feel in control. When we develop a fear of leaving the house, we might feel drained and lack the energy to engage with others. Perhaps we don’t know how to talk about how we’re feeling, or we worry that others won’t understand us, so it feels easier to isolate ourselves altogether. We may begin to feel lonely when we cut ourselves off from others, but this might feel like our only option.

Anxious about the world around us

Our fast-paced world can often overwhelm our senses. But when we are struggling with mental illness, modern life can feel especially overwhelming. We might feel anxious about what is going on in the world, or what might happen when we go out. We may worry about having panic attacks, feel apprehensive about being trapped in a difficult situation or being around groups of people. 

Scared about what will happen if we can’t cope

We might choose to stay indoors so that we don’t risk putting ourselves in a situation that we don’t know how to cope with. It can be hard to hide how we are feeling from others, and when panic sets in, it can be very challenging to persuade and reassure ourselves that we can cope with whatever is thrown our way. 

Exhausted by our emotions

It’s common when we’re struggling with a fear of leaving the house to feel a sense of helplessness, which can be exhausting. We want to fix the situation, but the feelings are so overwhelming, we don’t know where to start. We cannot see a way forward and we begin to blame ourselves for this. But it’s important to remember that it is not our fault we feel this way.

Strategies to help us move forward

We might fear leaving the house
But there are some techniques and strategies that can help us manage. Photo: Team Design

Right now, it might feel too much for us to go as far as leaving the house. But there are small steps we can take to help us move forward. 

We can accept that this is our current situation, but that it won’t always be. 

Here are some strategies and suggestions that may help:

Write down our feelings

Panic sets in when we fear something bad will happen, we’ll be trapped, or we might have a panic attack in public. Naturally, we choose to stay at home in our safe place, where we know we can control how we are feeling. Writing down our thoughts and feelings can help us to find out where our fears lie, and provide us with information that can help us to move forward.

AnxietyUK suggests that using coping statements may help us cope during situations we find frightening. These are statements that can be memorised or written down, and may help to provide reassurance that we are safe, in control and able to deal with our anxious feelings.

Keep connected with the outside world

It can be tricky for the people around us to understand why we feel the way we do, but having a support base can be important in helping us to manage our feelings, and feel less alone. There are ways that we can keep ourselves connected with the outside world, such as speaking to a friend online, joining a support group on social media, or asking a friend to accompany us when we do need to leave the house. 

Begin with something small

When things feel too much, trying to do something that feels big right now can set our recovery back, and leave us spiralling into a state of overwhelm and panic. Starting with something small can provide us with the tiniest sense of achievement that keeps us going. When we start small, this gives us space to build trust with ourselves and regain our confidence. 

We could start by standing on our doorstep and feeling the air on our face, or walking to the bottom of the garden. When we feel more confident, we could walk to the end of our street, or take an accompanied walk to the local shop. Each small step we take will provide us with reassurance that we can learn to feel in control of our anxiety.

Use breathing techniques

When we feel frightened, we can naturally begin to breathe rapidly. So learning how to regulate our breathing is a helpful strategy when panic sets in. We can try taking slow and deep breaths, counting to a number as we breathe in and out, breathing in and out from our tummy, or focusing on a fixed object as we breathe.

Take our time

When our feelings are big, the thought of doing the things we feel apprehensive about can feel overwhelming. There is no rush. It is absolutely okay to take our time and do things at our own pace. Whatever you can manage is enough. It’s important to listen to and honour what our body is telling us.

Allowing others to support us

We might fear leaving the house
But when we allow others to support us, it takes a weight off our shoulders. Photo: Team Design

Sharing our feelings with others can make us feel vulnerable, but we deserve support. It’s understandable if we feel ashamed and embarrassed, or even guilty about the way we are feeling. But normalising sharing how we are feeling will allow others to support us. When we feel overwhelmed, having someone to support us can help us feel more confident in taking the next step forward.

We are worthy of help, of getting better and of the support we need to get there. Our mental illness does not define who we are, what we stand for, or decrease our worth. 

Recovery

Living with a fear of leaving the house can be scary and exhausting, especially when it feels like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. Keeping ourselves hidden away feels like the safest thing to do, and means we can avoid all of the overwhelming feelings that bubble up each time we try to leave the house. 

But, when this begins to take over our lives, learning strategies and breaking everything down into small steps can increase our sense of control and provide us with the confidence we need to progress in our recovery. 

There is no rush; we can take things as slowly as we need to. It’s important to remember that we are not failing if our recovery isn’t linear. 

We are not alone, and we are worthy of having the support we need to get better.

Sharing is caring; please share this post to help others, you never know who might need it.

Resource

Blurtitout employs stringent sourcing standards, using only peer-reviewed studies and academic research to ensure the accuracy of its content. For details on their editorial process, you can visit their website. This commitment to reliable sources is crucial in the health and medical fields. If you need help finding or interpreting these sources

  1. Mind.org.uk. (2023). Depression signs and symptoms. [online] Available at: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/depression/symptoms/.
  2. Mind.org.uk. (2024). Writing down my thoughts and feelings. [online] Available at: https://www.mind.org.uk/need-urgent-help/what-s-happening-to-me/writing-down-my-thoughts-and-feelings/.
  3. Lovell, K. (1999). Overcoming agoraphobia A self-help manual. [online] Available at: https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/overcoming-agoraphobia-lovell-1999.pdf.
  4. NHS Choices (2024). Overview – Agoraphobia. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/agoraphobia/overview/.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gemma is a freelance writer from the UK, specialising in writing for the wellness and personal development niche. She has a background in marketing and wellness, and loves to write about the topics she's most passionate about. Gemma loves all things to do with natural wellness, being outdoors, reading, and is passionate about travel.

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