HERE’S how to revel in the joy of missing out – without losing friends in the process.
Ever made plans for a night out, but when it rolls around, all you can think about is getting into your PJs and watching Netflix?
You’re not alone – YouGov found 79% of Brits have ditched their friends to actively engage in JOMO (the joy of missing out).
Sometimes though, it’s not flakiness – it’s that a night in is simply the best thing for your physical and mental health.
You might be feeling burnt out at work – 88% of us have experienced it at some point* – or said “yes” for the wrong reason to start with.
“Overbooking ourselves in order to please others can lead to people feeling exhausted,” explains Niels Eék, psychologist and co-founder of wellness platform Remente.
“Many of us struggle to say ‘no’ because of the worry that a negative response will hurt the other person’s feelings and damage the relationship, or make us unlikeable. However, saying no early on can minimise disappointment in the long term.”
Here’s how to wriggle out of plans, while keeping your friendships, health and reputation intact…
BE 100% SURE
Sometimes life gets in the way and putting your wellbeing first has to be the priority.
But if you’d rather not be known as the flake of your friendship group, fine-tune your bail-out barometer.
“We often cancel because we’re tired, but healthy social interaction can help lower stress levels, depression and anxiety,” says life and careers coach Anna Percy-Davis.
So, before you cancel, ask yourself the following questions to weigh up whether a night home alone really is what’s needed:
1 Will my presence there bring me and others joy?
2 What am I honouring if I go (eg friendship, fun or an opportunity to network)?
3 What am I honouring if I do not go (eg peace and quiet)?
4 What feels like the most important thing to honour right now and will I still feel like this when the time comes to attend?
5 Do I really not fancy it or are there deeper reasons (eg do these “friends” trigger insecurities or make you feel negative)?
FIND A COMPROMISE
If the thought of spilling white wine over your new boots in a crowded bar doesn’t fill you with joy, you could suggest an alternative instead of just bailing.
“They’ll see that you’re not saying ‘no’ out of spite and that you’re still trying to be helpful,” says Debbie Chapman, author of The Joy Of No.
Not feeling flush or that sociable?
You could opt for a girls’ night in and watch all that telly you’re craving together.
Or you could switch up when you socialise – see if your friend is interested in a dog walk after the school run or, if you’re feeling energetic, a sunrise yoga session.
That way you’re guaranteed a free evening, but haven’t totally bailed.
GET TO THE POINT
Decided it’s definitely a “no” to going?
You might think a lengthy explanation detailing the many reasons you now can’t attend will make your last-minute excuse more believable, but keeping it brief is key.
“State the real reason, but keep it concise. Wordy explanations and back stories usually are the hallmark of a lie,” says etiquette expert William Hanson.
“Try saying something like: ‘I’m sorry, I’m going to have to skip tonight.
“I’ve had a really hard day and need to get some sleep so I can go again at work tomorrow.
“But I hope you have a great evening.
“When are you next free?”
It’s plausible and relatable.
And whatever you do, don’t invent an elaborate excuse.
“Being honest is the best policy,” Niels advises.
“It will show respect as well as allowing discussion about how you are feeling.”
Tempted to blab: “I know, I’m the worst, sorry!”
Acknowledging your flakiness may feel cathartic, but William advises staying away from the pity party.
“It shifts the focus back on you and puts the pressure on your friend to make you feel better by reassuring you, diminishing your guilt and validating your decision to blame your flakiness on an imaginary character flaw,” he explains.
“Instead, be confident in your decision, reiterate that you’re not rejecting them and that you value how they feel.
“A genuine friend will respect your feelings – and you’re valid in saying something if they guilt-trip you or make you feel uncomfortable.”
PICK UP THE PHONE
Text and WhatsApp may have armed us with an easy out that doesn’t involve letting someone down face-to-face, but sending a message isn’t always the ideal way to abandon plans.
“Technology gives the perfect excuse to ditch last-minute, but this can often leave people feeling angry and hurt,” Niels says.
“Give them a call so they can hear the authenticity in your voice – it’ll mean more.”
STAY OFF SOCIAL
Watching the event you bailed on unfold on Instagram Stories will only fuel your FOMO (fear of missing out) and make you second guess a decision that you know is right in the long run.
Equally, your friends don’t want to see a play-by-play account of your Netflix marathon on Twitter when you were supposed to be with them.
Instead, use this phone-free time to get a good night’s sleep – after all, one study from the University of Pittsburgh found that those who check social media right before bed were around 1.5 times more likely to experience more disturbed kip.
“Get a date in the diary ASAP for a rescheduled meet-up, so they don’t feel too fobbed off – and keep to the new date,” says William.
Booking tickets to a film you know your friend is dying to see, or suggesting coffee and cake at their favourite cafe, not only makes up for the missed date, but also shows you’re considering their feelings.
Download the free Raft app for iPhone for a quick and easy way to chat, share your calendar with friends and find things to do together that you won’t want to skip.
DON’T PEOPLE PLEASE
It’s nice to be nice, but not if it leaves you plotting your exit strategy as soon as you agree to another get-together.
“If the word ‘should’ is hanging around your decision, it’s a red flag,” Anna says.
“Accepting because you feel obligated will lead to flaking out.”
Niels suggests getting acquainted with your calendar.
“Schedule ‘me-time’, then if someone invites you out on an evening you’ve blocked out, you can honestly say you already have plans.”
Download the free time-blocking app SkedPal to integrate some non-negotiable downtime.
MAKE THE MOST OF IT
The deed is done and you have a blissful uninterrupted night ahead of you – hurrah!
Now what? Maximise your downtime and reclaim your headspace with a little guilt-free R&R.
“This is the time to do all of the things that bring you joy,” Niels suggests.
“It could be watching a movie with a takeaway, taking a hot bath or doing some exercise – whatever brings you the most happiness. Switch your phone off, disconnect from anything that’s going to drain your energy, and really recharge those batteries.”