Last Updated on March 8, 2023 by Angela Vaz
Going out alone can be a daunting task for anyone, but for those who struggle with anxiety, it can feel like an insurmountable challenge.
I’m 30 years old as I write this article and I’ve lived at home all my life, except for school and university.
Even going to school and university classes was terrible because I’d countdown the hours till when I could be home.
I knew my university classes weren’t useful because I was determined to never have a job after it.
I wanted to make money at home.
And I succeeded in building my online business at home. I was a successful illustrator and comic artist and eventually, I continued blogging to make meet all my financial needs.
The reason I’m writing this article is that this has been me all my life.
It’s taken me 29 years to reach this point where I still struggle to go out (but I do it anyway and I end up having fun).
And now, I do it often.
I know what it’s like to be so comfortable in your comfort zone and be overwhelmed at the thought of stepping out into the unknown.
The racing thoughts, the tightness in your chest, the constant worry or fear that others are judging you – I get it.
I want to tell you that it is possible to conquer your anxiety and go out alone with confidence and ease.
Please don’t feel like you are alone – you’re not.
Countless people have the same feelings and struggle with going out due to overwhelming feelings of anxiety.
And in this post, I’m going to tell you why and how you can slowly overcome it so that you can go out safely and comfortably.
I’ve already written another post on how to go out alone as a woman – please give it a read.
This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may make a commission at no extra cost to you if you decide to click on a link and purchase something. Click here to read the full disclaimer.
Why am I so nervous to go outside alone?
Again, please understand that feeling nervous to go outside alone is a common experience.
And there are multiple factors that could contribute to these feelings.
1. You may have had a negative experience
Perhaps you’ve had a negative experience in the past that has left you feeling very anxious about being alone in public.
Maybe you’ve been in a situation where you felt unsafe or vulnerable and the thought of going outside alone brings up those same feelings of fear and anxiety.
2. You lived a very sheltered life
This was me. I grew up in UAE where I went to an all-girls school. There wasn’t much to do and I stayed at my apartment all day when I wasn’t at school.
I was an only child and my parents has full-time jobs, so apart from gaming online, reading, or drawing – my world didn’t involve much else.
If this has been you, then yes – it can be a little nerve-wracking to go out alone because the world is so much bigger than your home.
3. You have anxiety
It is also possible that you may have a generalized anxiety disorder which can cause intense worry and fear in everyday situations.
This is me too. I do have intense anxiety and although it has led me to be a perfectionist and accomplish a lot by 30, it has also stippled my growth in terms of being social
Anxiety can make even simple tasks like going for a walk or running errands feel overwhelming and daunting.
I take my dogs out at 4:30 am in the morning because running into people worries me.
4. You fear being judged
This is another drawback of having anxiety.
Social anxiety can also play a role in feeling nervous about going outside alone.
The fear of being judged or watched by others can be incredibly stressful and it may feel easier to avoid these situations altogether.
Now, by understanding the reasons behind your feelings of nervousness, you can begin to take steps toward overcoming them.
This may involve gradually exposing yourself to situations that make you feel anxious, practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation, or seeking professional help to address underlying anxiety disorders.
Let me brief you on some methods that have worked for me.
11 ways to go out alone when you have anxiety
1. Acknowledge your feelings
Instead of thinking things like,
- “What’s wrong with me?”
- “Why am I such a coward?”
- “Maybe I’m not destined to have fun.”
- “I hate myself.”
Reframe these thoughts and start thinking like this instead:
- “It’s alright, I’m not alone in this – there are countless people out there who feel the same way I feel.”
- “Yes, I’m scared, but I know that life is short and fleeting and I do need to get over this fear.”
- “I’m going to do this and be patient with myself – I am going to be able to go out, it’s just going to take some time.”
- “I guess this is something I struggle with, but that’s okay – because I am going to learn how to go out even with this anxiety.”
The idea is to be kind to yourself.
You cannot beat yourself up and expect to feel better about going out.
That’s not how it works.
Approach this with more sensitivity.
Realize that it’s okay to feel nervous or anxious about going out alone.
Do not judge yourself harshly and remember, these feelings are not going to last forever.
2. Plan ahead
I never, ever leave the house without a plan.
Making a plan a few days in advance will give you that level of control you need.
For instance, club certain activities together.
You want to go out and draw at a cafe, write in your journal, or read a book – do that. But make a plan.
Here are the things I plan when going out:
- What day I will go out (clear your schedule so that you won’t cancel last minute)
- What time I will leave the house (this makes me more accountable)
- What I will wear (planning your outfit is so helpful because you can keep your clothes out the day prior)
- What route you’ll take (if you’re using GPS or a cab, you don’t need to do this, but if you’re walking, then yes!)
You can even plan the time duration you’re going to spend outside.
I mandatorily go out once a week to a cafe with my laptop to work.
This forces me to get out of the house and I enjoy every single experience I work at a cafe. It makes me feel so warm and cozy.
3. Start small
You don’t need to go camping or go on a staycation if that sounds scary and daunting.
Take teeny, tiny steps.
Build the habit of going out first.
Start with tiny walks in your neighborhood.
Don’t listen to music – this will beat the purpose of going out. You can listen to nature, or the traffic instead.
The idea is to be alone with your thoughts but has some connection to the outside world.
Get familiar with your surroundings. Just take it all in.
Start noticing the imperfections like the little stray dog in the corner, or the broken mailbox at the end of the street.
Do something out of the ordinary.
Stop by a bakery and buy yourself a delicious treat.
Maybe stop by the music store and just play some instruments.
Do tiny things.
I started going out to the grocery store right outside my home and buying my vegetables from there.
It really helps. And even though the whole process takes only 20 minutes – I do feel so much better after stepping out.
Gradually, you can increase the length and complexity of your outings.
4. Practice relaxation techniques
No, nobody can hear you, and even on the off chance they do, they won’t care. It’s breathing. Everybody breathes.
Relax your muscles.
My shoulders usually stiffen when I am uncomfortable and I tend to walk fast.
I had to practice walking slowly when I go out.
Remember, you are 1 person out of a thousand around you. Nobody is watching you.
Just like you go out trying to do your thing, everybody else is doing the same.
Everyone has a million worries and they’re not going to pay attention to someone when there are countless people out on the street.
You are like a bee in a hive – 1 out of 100s.
5. Talk to yourself positively
If you are sitting and reading this right now, you should know that you’ve survived 100% of your bad days.
This means you’ve overcome every single challenge that has come your way.
So, pat yourself on the back – I’m waiting.
And be kind to yourself.
Be gentle and compassionate.
Remind yourself of your strengths and capabilities.
Remind yourself why you love yourself.
And tell yourself that you can handle whatever challenges come your way.
You’ve done it so far, so what’s going to stop you from continuing that wonderful streak you have going for you?
6. Bring a comfort item
I carry a little teddy bear whose leg my dog chewed. It reminds me of her and that’s why I love it so much.
It’s Grizz from We Bear Bears (a cartoon I love with all my heart).
It’s in my backpack and I never go anywhere without it.
You can carry anything that gives you comfort –
- Maybe something you made when you were a kid.
- Maybe a bookmark or keychain?
- A small token your mom/dad/sibling gave you.
- Something tiny that brings you joy when you see it.
- It could be a book or a stress ball or maybe even a pen.
My partner loves me and he doesn’t judge me for having this teddy bear.
He even brought it home once when I left it accidentally in his car.
7. Carry your essentials with you
I carry everything I need to, in order to feel safe. It can be things that you feel you’ll need like:
- A water bottle so you never dehydrate
- Tissues (because you never know when you’ll need them)
- Wet wipes, in case you get your hands dirty
- Makeup (to touch up your make-up)
- Pepper Spray or taser (especially if you’re a woman and need to feel safe)
- A book to read (in case you ever feel like you can’t really be alone)
- Sanitary napkins (in case you or someone else needs them)
- Noise-canceling headphones (for public transport)
- A tiny bottle of perfume (for refreshing)
Make a list of things you really need and carry them with you in your backpack to make you feel safe.
8. Reward yourself
Every time I go out, I get myself something that makes me happy like a cup of hot chocolate or a cheese croissant.
Reward yourself so that you start associating going out with something nice, warm and comforting.
If you go out once a week, maybe you can stop by the library and get yourself a new book.
And once a month or quarter, you can elevate the reward – maybe a new top?
You can also reward yourself with a relaxing activity.
9. Go out and do things you enjoy
Think about things you love – is there something you can do outside with it?
For instance, I love books. I read all the time.
So, I joined a book club.
Although it meets only once in 2 months, I look forward to it! I meet people who are just like me and love to read and talk about books – I feel safe and I feel at home.
So, think about an activity you like, and find a club.
- Do you love playing music? Maybe there is a place you can go to play? Or you can volunteer in a choir?
- Do you love art? Can you join a painting class or go to art exhibits?
- Love to code? Look for coding marathons in your area where you can join a club and code with other people.
- Love fitness? Join a pilates or yoga class or maybe even Zumba?
See, the ideas are endless.
And believe me when I say that there is a club/meeting for anyone.
10. Be safe
Here are some things I do to ensure my safety:
- I travel when there’s light
- I always go to crowded places like cafes, bookshops, and so on.
- I take public transport always – I’m not a fan of driving as it’s too stressful.
- Text your friend/parent/partner telling them you’re going out – tell them about your destination or even call them and tell them where you are.
- Carry a power bank with you – don’t let your phone die.
- Talk to someone who works at the establishment if you feel unsafe. For instance, if you’re at a pub and you feel someone is keeping tabs on you, talk to the bartender. They are always ready to help.
11. Challenge negative thoughts
Every time you feel anxious, ask yourself why.
The other day, when I was at a cafe, I realized my laptop battery was dying. There were two women sitting near an electrical outlet and I wanted to ask them if they could switch seats with me.
But it took me 30 minutes to pick up the courage to do that.
Finally, I rationalized:
- What’s the worst that could happen? They’d say no. That’s it, it’s not the end of the world. If they say no, I can ask someone else.
- What if they think I am stupid because I didn’t check to see if my seat was near an outlet? I realized that even on the off-chance they do, these people will probably think that for a millisecond and go back to their lives because they don’t know me and I needn’t care.
I finally asked them and they were so polite and told me I could have their seat because they needed to get somewhere else anyway.
I have realized that my thoughts are my worst enemy.
They create such negative, almost realistic situations, that we need to summon all our energy to fight those.
So challenge your thoughts.
- Is this actually happening or is it just my anxiety?
Once you begin to identify where the thought is coming from, it becomes easy to reframe it.
12. Surround yourself with positive people
My ex was abusive and very controlling, he didn’t like me going outdoors.
And that only encouraged my anxiety.
But after leaving that relationship, I vowed to be different.
My current partner is so loving and supportive. He constantly encourages me to make new friends and go out.
Sometimes, he takes me out so that we can meet our friends.
And he even encourages me to respond to the chats.
I have friends who call me and tell me to come out and meet them.
And yes, it is important to surround yourself with people who are positive and encourage you.
This can be your family, your friends, and even a mental health professional.
This reminds me, if your anxiety is really bad and you’ve been struggling for a long time, don’t be afraid to talk to someone about it.
They will help you understand your triggers and give you the tools to help you overcome your anxiety and step out.
13. Celebrate your successes
No matter how small your wins are, celebrate them.
Take time to acknowledge your mini-wins and pat yourself on the back.
Remember why you go out.
Remember how it makes you feel and how many new things you learned.
Celebrating your accomplishments is going to help you build confidence and motivate you to continue moving forward.
I like to write in my diary and reread those instances to remember how I felt after a positive experience going out!
Remember, conquering your anxiety takes time and patience.
You are building a habit, slowly. And you’ll get there, but be patient with yourself.
At the same time, don’t be afraid to seek support when you need it.
You are capable of overcoming your fears and living a fulfilling life.
Here are more posts I’ve written that you may like:
- How to go out safely and comfortably as a woman
- 7 healthy habits to develop as a woman in her 30s
- 11 warm and comforting books to read during difficult times
- How to rebuild your life after losing everything that matters
- Why does no one understand you? What to do about it?
- 9 reasons why friends come and go (this will make you feel better)
- 33 ways to become a nicer person
- 23 ways to let loose and be yourself
- How to stop overanalyzing everything and calm down
- 11 practical ways to stop letting things bother you
- 19 benefits of being yourself
- 13 easy ways to be mentally present every day
- 15 Easy Ways to have a Fresh Start in 2023
- 13 genuine ways to make every day count
- 35 honest ways to get your life together
- How to drastically simplify your life