How to keep FONC (fear of not chilling) from sparking a bad case of the Sunday Scaries


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In 2019, scheduling “me-time” is kind of a big deal. JOMO (joy of missing out) has dethroned our old pal FOMO, and we’re all editing our personal mission statements to read something like, “Prioritizes hygge above all else.” But what happens when something (ahem, life) gets in the way of your non-plans, and you find yourself longing to cancel everything in favor of falling into your Netflix queue? According to Elizabeth Kott and Stephanie Simbari, co-hosts of the That’s So Retrograde podcast, you’ve got a case of FONC: fear of not chilling.

You know you have FONC when your busy schedule causes mild panic about when you’ll have time to treat yourself to some necessary R&R. “It’s kind of the opposite of saying yes to everything,” says Kott, who coined the term in the pod’s most recent episode. “It’s like, I’d rather be home chilling or chilling with friends. If there’s a really busy week, or a really busy few days of the week in a work sense, then I try to allow space for relaxation,” she says.

There are also some compelling scientific reasons to take the occasional time out from our jam-packed Google Cals. “Human ‘downtime’ is not like the ‘rest’ of a car or a computer,” Matthew Edlund, MD, writes in Psychology Today. “With human downtime, the body is continually learning, especially when asleep.” This proves especially true for creatives.

Referencing a study conducted in the 1980s on Berlin students practicing the violin, Dr. Edlund explains that not only did the more successful students nap more frequently and sleep longer, but they also worked in a style known as “deliberate practice,” which calls for working 80 to 90 minutes and resting between rounds. (Think: the Pomodoro Technique, but with longer intervals.) The expert also points out that we’re not computers consistently working the same way, regardless of how much time passes—basically meaning we operate at our prime when we prioritize not falling into FONC.

“I have a rule of going where I’m invited if it sounds fun. Then if I don’t want to go, I’m not going. But I don’t actively seek activities when I’m not invited.” —Stephanie Simbari, That’s So Retrograde co-host on avoiding FONC

It’s an easy thing to do, especially armed with tips from Kott and Simari, who have organized their social and non-social lives to keep the acronym away. “I pretty much have a rule of going where I’m invited if it sounds fun. Then if I don’t want to go, I’m not going. But I don’t actively seek activities when I’m not invited,” says Simbari. “Go when you’re invited because you might meet people, but don’t look for fun things to do during the week.” Instead the two like to spend their free time doing what they call “office hours,” AKA office hours…where no one shows up, leaving plenty of one-on-one time for yourself. “If there’s a really busy week, or a really busy few days of the week in a work sense, then I try to allow space for relaxation,” says Kott.

One caveat: Make sure not to give yourself carte blanche when it comes to forfeiting all your plans to hang out with your dog. “There is a comfort in that, in wanting to be at home with the Netflix, with the creature comforts. But I think it’s also really important to not fall too deep into that and test yourself [socially] once in a while,” After all, you don’t want a bad case of FONC to cause you to backslide into FOMO. The horror!

While we’re talking about the good things in life, like staying home, here are the best woman-led movies to watch on Netflix and how to create a top-notch Zen den

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