AUNT JOSEPHINE Sage ad­vice.

OUR FREE TIME IS A CHANCE FOR US TO RE­LAX AND RECHARGE, BUT IT’S SO EASY FOR IT TO GET FILLED UP WITH SO­CIAL PLANS. IS IT BET­TER TO JUST SAY NO?

In the Moment - - Contents - Ask Aunt Josephine a ques­tion by email­ing her at hello@aun­tjosephine.co.uk. Un­for­tu­nately, Aunt Josephine can’t en­ter into per­sonal cor­re­spon­dence.

“IT CAN FEEL LIKE WE’RE SO­CIALLY IM­PRINTED TO AGREE TO EV­ERY­THING”

Q“Dear Aunt Josephine, I am a 35-year-old woman who feels over­whelmed by her diary. I have a lot of friends who live all over the place and, de­spite my best in­ten­tions, I al­ways end up say­ing yes when peo­ple ask to meet up – and then re­gret it later. Some­times, I get so stressed that I end up can­celling things, which then makes me feel guilty and cross with my­self for not say­ing no in the rst place. I am a so­cia­ble, fun per­son to be around, but I’m also an ex­tro­verted in­tro­vert who re­ally needs time to her­self. I am cur­rently look­ing at my diary for the next two months and it’s send­ing me into a tail­spin.

I love meet­ing up with my friends and I do think I su er from a bit of FOMO, but it’s just be­come too much. I am also sin­gle and most of my friends are in re­la­tion­ships or have kids, so it feels like I’m al­ways the one trav­el­ling to see them. Ev­ery year I vow to have more time to my­self and I just nd my­self here again.

Help! I feel like I need a diary sec­re­tary to step in and get me out of this mess.”

Des­per­ately Seek­ing a Free Diary, Lon­don

A“Dear Des­per­ately Seek­ing, oh, I hear you. So many times I have stared into the abyss of an out-of-con­trol so­cial sched­ule and felt ut­terly panic-stricken. But no mat­ter how over­whelmed you might feel, try to re­mem­ber – you’re the one who has lled up your diary. Other peo­ple only asked. You didn’t have to say yes. This is a very im­por­tant point for a cal­en­dar over-com­mit­ter (be­lieve me, as I say this from ex­pe­ri­ence!).

Let’s talk about say­ing no in­stead. It can feel like we’re so­cially im­printed to im­me­di­ately agree to ev­ery­thing, es­pe­cially if an­other per­son sells it in an en­thu­si­as­tic way. But some­times what works for some­one else isn’t go­ing to work for you. A good strat­egy I’ve learned is that if I’m in­vited to some­thing, I stop for a mo­ment and think: if this were on to­mor­row, would I want to do it? If the an­swer is no, I prob­a­bly won’t want to do it in two weeks’ or two months’ time ei­ther.

The fact is, we can’t – and don’t have to – do ev­ery­thing. Re­mem­ber that your friends with fam­i­lies make these choices all the time. Just be­cause you don’t have a part­ner or small per­son to think about, it doesn’t mean that your time is there to be o ered up, willy-nilly.

FOMO is a se­duc­tive thing. We think we’re miss­ing out on the best ex­pe­ri­ence with oth­ers, when ac­tu­ally what we need is to con­nect with our­selves. It sounds like you worry about let­ting oth­ers down, but in re­al­ity it’s prob­a­bly not that big a deal to any­one else but you (un­less it’s some­one’s wed­ding, say). I once got a blunt but bril­liant bit of ad­vice from a friend when I’d yet again over­com­mit­ted and was stress­ing about can­celling on peo­ple. “Chill out,” she told me. “I’m sure they’d love to see you, but you’re not the cen­tre of their world.”

Let’s talk prac­ti­cal­i­ties. Look through your cur­rent diary – is there any­thing you can can­cel or rear­range? Can you swap drinks out with friends for go­ing to a restora­tive yoga class in­stead? Try a more yin and yang ap­proach to things. We live in a fast and fre­netic world and our ‘me’ time is some­thing pre­cious, which must be pro­tected at all costs. You can also just be hon­est and tell peo­ple you need a lit­tle bit of R&R or a night to your­self.

It’s great that you’ve got a good so­cial life, so make sure that you see your mates and have fun. But also en­joy the spon­tane­ity and free­dom that comes with hav­ing ab­so­lutely noth­ing booked in.

& author, Josephine Carnegie Jour­nal­ist, life coachcoun­selling but is holds a cer­tifi­cate in holis­ticout good ad­vice. best known for giv­ing

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