Don't Let “Sunshine Guilt” Make You Feel Bad

No one can escape the sunny day FOMO.

Part of a series of daily life of a woman at home.

On the first nice day of spring — or whenever it’s particularly sunny, breezy, and warm — it seems like everyone immediately wants to go outside. People will gather in the parks and at sidewalk cafes to soak up the sun and revel in the rays, and this is true even there’s still a slight chill in the air.

Warm and sunny weather tends to put everyone in an energetic mood, but what if you’re too tired to go out or would rather bask in the glow of your TV? If you plan to sleep in and relax, a random nice day can fill you with a hefty dose of FOMO, and a tinge of regret.

This angsty feeling has been dubbed “sunshine guilt” on TikTok, where the phrase has millions of views. In a viral video posted on March 4, creator @thereneereina said she experienced sunshine guilt on an “abnormally beautiful day” because she was too tired to step outside and witness it.

“I feel this pressure to [...] go for a walk and enjoy the weather while it lasts,” she said. “I can’t enjoy myself indoors now because the whole time I’m thinking that I should be outside. So basically my day is ruined.”

In her comments, one person said, “This is why I’ve always loved winter and rainy days. They don’t expect anything from me and that’s peaceful,” while another wrote, “I feel this every time I’m loafing on my couch and the sun is beaming through the windows.”

What Is Sunshine Guilt?

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According to Dr. Nadia Teymoorian, a psychologist from the Moment of Clarity Mental Health Center, sunshine guilt is that regretful feeling that settles in whenever you stay inside on a nice day, and it can be especially upsetting if you assume everyone else is outside and living their best life.

Maybe you smell someone grilling or hear your neighbors laughing — and just like that, you feel like the most boring person in the world for wanting to stay indoors. It doesn’t matter if you’re feeling sick, relaxing after a busy week, or marathoning your favorite movies — a day spent inside always seems less worthwhile and impressive than a day spent outside.

Sunshine guilt can also creep in if you’re too busy to go outside due to other responsibilities. If you live in the Pacific Northwest or a drizzly country like Scotland or Ireland, you might have more intense sun guilt, Teymoorian tells Bustle, since the nice weather is rarer. When pleasant days are few and far between, the pressure to enjoy them is extra strong, and so is any related guilt for missing out.

For some, sunshine guilt can happen all summer long, since every day promises to be beautiful.

The Sunshine-FOMO Connection

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As Kevin Belcastro, LMFT, a therapist with Mental Health Center of San Diego, says, sunshine guilt stems from the cumulation of negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions that come from believing you’re failing or letting yourself down by staying inside on a nice day.

“Some common causes for this type of guilt are associated with societal norms or values, and feeling that we are not meeting them,” he tells Bustle. “There are negative stigmas associated with [relaxing inside] or not taking advantage of ‘good’ weather.”

That’s why you might feel lazy if you decide to stay home instead of going for a hike or you might judge yourself for not achieving a goal, like getting in your 10,000 steps. It’s also easy to measure your day against someone else’s — like your friend who posts a picnic photo from the park right as you hit episode 10 of Love is Blind.

If you hear music from a block party or run to the grocery store and spot someone on a hot girl walk with their dog, Belcastro says it can make you feel like a big-time failure for not embracing the day with the same peppy energy. But rest assured you don’t have to feel bad.

Why It’s OK To “Waste” The Day

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According to Belcastro, everyone requires different things when it comes to resting and recharging, so it’s possible that you prefer a restful day in bed versus a trip to the beach for your R&R.

Sometimes you just don’t have it in you to embrace the day, and that’s OK. If you still feel guilty, though, Belcastro recommends thinking about the root cause of your worries. Perhaps the belief that it’s “bad” to waste a nice day was influenced by old family narratives, he says, and now you’ve accepted them as your own without even realizing it. To truly make the most of your restful day, he says it will be helpful to begin letting go of that attitude.

Allowing yourself to stay inside guilt-free is also a sign that you trust your instincts. As Teymoorian says, admitting that you need to rest — even when everyone else is outside — is an act of self-care. While she does recommend getting fresh air as often as possible, it’s perfectly fine to miss a few sunny days here and there.

How To Avoid FOMO On Sunny Days

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To fully embrace your time inside, let go of the guilt and try to enjoy your original plans. “Shift your mindset to focus on self-care, as well as your intention and priorities,” says Teymoorian.

Go ahead and nap if you need to, but you also might choose to read, clean, make a nice dinner, work on your hobbies, text friends, or have a self-care pamper day complete with face masks and an everything shower.

“Remember, you write your own story, so you have a choice and you are capable of creating a feeling of balance and happiness,” she says. “Avoid that unhealthy thought process of FOMO and make happy memories based on your own needs.”


Dr. Nadia Teymoorian, psychologist from the Moment of Clarity Mental Health Center

Kevin Belcastro, LMFT, therapist with Mental Health Center of San Diego