The warmer days call us out into nature (or the beer garden), the brighter mornings and evenings boost our mood (you might only notice when the sun hides away again), and the opportunities for fun in the sun are swarming in - especially with the restrictions (slowly) easing! This can mean fun, but it can also mean anxiety in the form of FOMOS (Fear of Missing Out on Sunshine).
Have you heard of FOMOS?
You’ve probably had it, we all get it. Closely related to FOMO (the fear of missing out), it’s the fear of missing out on sunshine. You know that feeling we get when the sun makes its long-awaited appearance and suddenly we are compelled to get out and spend as much time lapping up the vitamin D as physically possible. But then when we can’t really be bothered, have a million other things to do or even are stuck at work during the warm hours of the day, we get that antsy, guilty, uncomfortable feeling - the feeling that we should be making the most of it. And here’s why you might be feeling it:
There’s an unreal pressure to get outside and make the most of the sunshine because in the UK we never really know how long it’s going to last. And the thought of missing it, to only have a day off and it rains torrentially, to get off work and the evening chill has arrived already, or the hayfever pounces and we can only assume its mission is to ruin summer, can be overwhelming.
Then there’s more pressure from social media seeing anyone and everyone out living their best life. Social media is filled with the ‘perfect’ summer, we scroll through the best side of other’s lives, seeing gorgeous outfits, adorable picnic set-ups, or the smiles and laughter from people who seem eternally happy. And we’re left feeling disheartened or disgruntled that we’re not out brunching, enjoying Aperol season or smothering children in factor 50 for a spontaneous day at the beach. And BAM, the guilt feels ten times worse.
A perpetual cycle
Isn’t it just classic life, that this kind of guilt can see us feeling guilty about feeling guilty in the first place? We can end up worrying, overthinking, being unnecessarily hard on ourselves. And feeling guilty about feeling guilty in the first place can often see us withdrawing, procrastinating, and feeling generally a bit miserable (when we should be happy the sun is out - PRESSURE). Untackled, this brew of emotions and behaviours can lead to real turmoil for our mental wellbeing.
Say the gang has a plan, it’s going to be a glorious day, but deep down leaving the sofa, finding the perfect summer outfit - not too hot, not too cold, fashionable, comfortable (a big ask), and socialising all afternoon sounds like hell. Do you;
a) Cancel all responsibilities, get the sun cream, soak up the sun with everyone else and realise that you have left yourself with 2 hours to meet that work deadline, there’s no milk, and you’re utterly exhausted?
b) Stay at home, take the day for yourself (because your body is telling you too), all the while the guilt and anxiety is brewing and you spend the day overthinking and not even getting the rest you stayed in for?
c) Spend the majority of the day going round in circles, deciding what to do, worrying about the to-do list, feeling guilty about not being in the sun, only to realise it’s 6 pm you’ve got nothing done and the sun’s about to say goodnight?
What a minefield!
When the FOMOS hits, try asking yourself these questions:
What do I really need today?
Listening to our bodies is a really great way of calming racing thoughts, preventing overthinking plans or suggestions, and figuring out what to do with our time. If your body is screaming for a rest, take it. If you’re feeling energised, get out there. If you’re feeling sociable, rally your troops and see who’s game. Go easy on yourself, we’re still recovering from a pandemic, we want the sun but we need to do what’s best for us in the long run if we want to maintain a good mood - without guilt and anxiety rocking up to shade the day.
How much spare time do I really have?
When we’re working, parenting, meeting demands and responsibilities of life, throwing ‘adult’ things out the window to enjoy the sun doesn’t always feel like an option. If you have next to no time (and not the ‘no time’ because we spent 3 hours on Instagram), do something quick - stick your face out of the window for 5 minutes, eat an ice lolly on the doorstep, go for a quick walk around the block. Short but sweet appreciation for the sun will reduce those feelings of guilt. Or maybe you have more time than you realise, fight the pressure of perfection, adult life is hard work and there’s a constant stream of jobs to do every day - but what if (and stay with us), everything would be fine if the washing piles a little higher, or we ate leftovers for tea again? Sometimes, these responsibilities don’t need to be met right away, especially if doing something else is going to feel good! So if you can, sack ‘em off and enjoy the sun.
Can this bring me joy?
Navigating the pressures of summer can be hard work - it can get rather sweaty even before the midday heat kicks in. So when the FOMOS (or any other unpleasant feelings) appear, ask yourself what can bring me joy? Finding joy in things can prevent the less than appealing feelings from creeping in. If being in the sun is going to bring you joy, let that give you the fuel to carry out plans. If it’s not, perhaps the plans need adapting or a quiet day is needed and that’s ok - we all have those moments, and can still find joy in taking it easy.
Asking ourselves these kinds of questions can help us in most moral dilemmas - do we go out for dinner or cook? Take a restful weekend or one filled with wonderful plans? Have a couple of bevs on Friday night or take it easy? Reflecting like this can help us figure out what we really want to do deep down and what is going to keep our mental wellbeing in check - even if you’re having a terrible day, it could be a sign to rest making tomorrow a bit easier. So, now you can make fulfilling decisions when it comes to FOMO, missing the sunshine and living your best life!
Tough summer lovin': asking ourselves these questions will only really work when we answer them honestly and accept the outcome of our choices. To combat guilt we must accept it. When it comes to FOMOS it can really feel like there’s no right answer, so go with the one that has the best outcomes for what you need, maybe it’s out for cocktails during the golden hour which will likely lead to feeling a little groggy the next day, but is totally worth it to spend time with friends in the sun. Maybe it’s getting through the working day to enjoy an alfresco dinner, a productive day and some sun! Or maybe it’s closing the curtains again, watching your favourite series, and trying again tomorrow - or when the sun is next out.