It’s May 2021 and we are now allowed to hug (if we want to). As I hugged my friend I felt this relief and huge emotional release. It’s really hard to explain. We joked that we had so much hugging to catch up on. As we went our separate ways I pondered this thought. Do we though? Can we even catch up?
A year of missed celebrations?
As I look back over the past 12 months you could say that we have missed so much – my daughter would certainly agree. She is frustrated that her last two birthdays have been in lockdown. There have been so many missed hugs, celebrations on hold and whilst I am looking forward to seeing my girls play with their friends and to hugging those I love I can see another perspective.
I was 40 last year, I had a big party planned, which had to be cancelled. Admittedly I didn’t mind too much, not because I didn’t want to celebrate (I embrace getting older) but because my birthday is 3 days before Christmas and I have enough going on! I thought I might postpone the party and do it this year but now, 5 months on, I don’t think I will. What I wanted for my birthday was to be with the people I love and to mark the occasion – we did that. I received homemade cards, flowers in the post, and lots of thoughtful gifts. People stopped by and we chatted through the fence. Yes, it wasn’t a big party but I still got all out of it that I hoped for.
There is always more to catch up on
It feels like we need to catch up. I get it. I feel it. We do this all the time at work – we work late to catch up or get ahead but there is always more. So many of us get sucked into the idea that if we take a day/weekend/week and put off all the things we enjoy doing then we can get everything done that we feel guilty about not doing before. We think that if we do this then we will feel better, that we will have pleased everyone else and everything will be complete. The reality is that the catching up never ends – there is always more. We don’t need to catch up, not now, not ever.
You can often find me muttering about this with housework or clearing my inbox! I talk to my partner about working late and the expectations it sets for his team. We buy into being busy, hustling or whatever you want to call it. I call it sacrificing ourselves and our needs and it usually ends in feeling burnt out and overwhelmed.
A change of perspective
One of the things I enjoyed over lockdown was that there was no pressure to attend things I didn’t really want to go to. I was able to set my boundaries firmly, with no guilt. I intend to keep those boundaries.
Instead of focusing on the things we’ve missed out on what if we focus on what we did differently? What did we enjoy? What would we keep from the year that forced us to slow down?
One of the biggest reasons we feel the need to catch up is the fear of missing out (FOMO). We are conditioned to read every email, social media update so we don’t miss out on anything. It’s why my daughters want to attend every social event they are invited to – and it’s not just the kids either!
The problem with FOMO is that the more you know or do, the more you have to know and do! We feel it’s not enough to see the social media update but we have to click on the link, watch the next episode or respond to every invite so that everyone knows we’re caught up.
How to stop FOMO
If you’re feeling that your boundaries are being tested, or will be tested as we emerge from lockdown I would encourage you to do the following:
- Tell people. One of the most beautiful effects of lockdown was that we communicated better with the people we care about. We strengthened and maintained the relationships that were important to us. Look at the people who supported you and whom you supported. Talk to them, be honest. We have been through a tough year and these are the people who helped you through – they aren’t going to judge you.
- Be present. If you are paying attention to what you missed out on or the massive to-do list you now have then your attention isn’t on what’s happening around you. How can you be your best self if you have anxiety about what’s not been done? Being present takes practice. Aim for 10 mins a day where you set your worries/anxiety/guilt aside whilst you engage in the here and now.
- Stop the FOMO. How many times have you gone to an event or found yourself mid scroll wondering what on earth you are doing? When we try and do everything we often miss out on the joy of doing the things we really want. Focus on catching up with the people most important to you. You won’t miss a thing and you will enjoy what you’re doing even more.