Imagine: It is winter of 2019, and you’re patiently waiting for the warm summer air to start swirling around again. You can practically feel the sunshine beating down on your face. You have vacations coming up with your family and a trip with your friends, too. Then, COVID-19 hits and it ruins every plan you had for summer 2020. One minute you were buying bathing suits online and the next minute you were wearing a mask to the grocery store.

For those of us who feel like we thrive in the summertime, it may feel like we’ve been robbed of our favorite time of the year. That doesn’t mean it has to stay that way though. It’s important to focus on the positives and find new ways to enjoy the summer months without having FOMO (fear of missing out). It’s okay to feel upset, though. Even Kylie Jenner was over 2020 when it had barely just begun.

Us too, Kylie. Us too.

Managing Difficult Emotions: Why You Shouldn’t Feel Guilty About Staying Home

Part of the reason we experience FOMO is because of what the name implies: we’re scared of missing out on something that we were supposed to be a part of. This summer, FOMO is a little different. Because of the current restrictions and the risk of catching a potentially life-threatening illness, there isn’t much we can do to get around our summer plans. However, you should most definitely not feel guilty about choosing to stay home even when your friends and family pressure you to join them on their vacations. Why? Because you are…

  1. Lessening the load of service workers who are exposing themselves every day
  2. Actively stopping the spread
  3. Encouraging other people to stay home as well
  4. NOT risking your health or the health of others

You may be asking yourself, “Well those are great reasons, but I still feel upset about it. How can I make these feelings go away?” You can’t just flip a switch and feel better instantly. Here are some tips that will help you combat difficult emotions:

  • Identify what you are feeling: Don’t let your emotions control you. You control your emotions. Instead of saying, “I am upset,” try saying, “This is grief.” By labeling what you are experiencing, it takes away the guessing and allows you to just start being present and moving forward.
  • Accept your feelings: This can be hard, and you may try to avoid what you are feeling. Try telling yourself things like, “I am okay. I am safe and healthy. I can make the best of my situation.” Come up with affirmations that resonate with you and remind yourself of them when you are starting to feel down again.
  • Talk to someone if you feel alone: It can be a friend, family member, coworker, or even a mental health professional. Grief comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s normal to grieve something, such as losing several months to a pandemic, and talking to someone about what you are feeling can help you greatly.

How to Stay Positive This Summer

You may be feeling down and even angry over the fact that your summer and all of the plans associated with it have been ripped out from under you. That is completely okay! However, focusing on the positives will not only make you feel better, but save your summer from feeling wasted. We have some tips on how you can stay positive and busy without missing out:

  1. Get outside and feel the sun: If you have a yard or balcony, grab a beach towel and soak up the sunshine! Don’t have an outdoor space at home? No worries! This is a great excuse to explore new spots nearby where you can relax outside and enjoy the weather like local parks, public lawns, or even a friend’s house. Spending time outside can help you relax and feel more at ease. It can also help you improve your mood and reduce feelings of anxiety. Just remember to wear a mask and social distance.
  2. Work on projects around your home: Want to build that table you have been eyeing for months? Go for it! Want to plant fresh herbs and try a new recipe? That sounds lovely. Want to paint a feature wall or canvas to add a pop of color to your home? Now is the time. Working on projects won’t just keep you busy but help you stay productive and ward off boredom. Sitting around and watching TV or playing on your device all day can make you feel sluggish. Try putting energy into those home projects to get your mind going and feeling productive.
  3. Get some exercise: You don’t have to start a whole new routine or buy a gym membership. There are things you can do at home with just your body weight. Getting active not only makes you feel better physically, but mentally as well. Sweating and working out gets your endorphins flowing and can make all the difference when stuck inside for long periods of time.

The most important thing you can do this summer is simply make the most out of your situation. Appreciate the time you have to do things you normally wouldn’t be able to.

Looking Ahead to the Future

Although this year has been a whirlwind, it won’t be like this forever. If you missed a vacation, try planning an even better vacation for next year as a celebration. Take a moment to appreciate everyone and everything you have that is good in your life right now. Summer FOMO is hard, but you shouldn’t feel upset or guilty about staying home right now—in doing so, you’re prioritizing your wellbeing and the wellbeing of others.