It’s that time of year again - the sun’s here, it’s swelteringly warm in the rays, and the suncream restock is imminent. The benefits of soaking up some vitamin D are enough to get all of us lounging in the sun, even for a sweet moment on the way to work or in the park with the kids. But it’s also a time when the pressure to be out and about returns. We couldn’t possibly miss the long awaited return of the giant ball of fire in the sky - or could we?
This time last year, coming out of lockdowns and returning to an element of normality was stress and anxiety inducing for many. And while covid has by no means gone, this year we’re probably not so cautious to get back to filling the calendar up. But just because the suns out and covid seems to be under wraps, doesn’t mean we’re free to drop everything else to get out into the 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:
The pressure to get outside and make the most of the sunshine is huge, and mostly because, as you well know, in the UK we never really know how long it’s going to last. And the thought of missing it, only to 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 it’s 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;
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?
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?
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!
4 reminders to get you through your FOMOS
The sun will come back
We don’t have much control over the weather, but we do know there will always be another sunny day to take advantage of. So if you’re not thrilled to soak up some rays, don’t force yourself to. If you’re still not feeling it the next is shows, remind yourself it will be back even if the forecast says rain for the next week.
Social media isn’t the full picture
Just because everything looks glorious on social media, doesn’t mean their realities aren’t equally stressful, challenging or filled with FOMOS too from time to time. Be mindful of how much you're scrolling when the FOMOS hits, it’ll only make the guilt feel worse and leave you feeling miserable.
Other people are busy too
Doesn’t it seem like there’s a lot of people out and about for a Tuesday afternoon when the suns out? Don’t these people have jobs?! Yes probably, or other responsibilities that they’re probably getting on with too. So while it seems like others have all the time to enjoy the sun, they’re probably also sat in that traffic jam, baking in their car, thinking the same thing!
Saying ‘no’ is ok
It’s ok to decline an invite to a BBQ or picnic, or an evening spent in the beer garden, at a friends house. It’s ok to spend the sunny hours on the sofa with the blind still shut. Saying ‘no’ to things that aren’t going to serve us, like pushing yourself to socialise, or get to the park when you’re knackered, or even spend the money when your wallets feeling tight, is a way of protecting our mental health. We don’t always have to be a yes person!
The sun has got his hat: hip hip or nah. Whatever you’re feeling, doing, or have on when the summer months hit, doesn’t need to be put on hold to force joy - especially when it’s going to make us feel worse after or in the long run. Make the most of it when you can, and go easy on yourself when netflix is calling your name. Don’t succumb to the pressure of the sun!