Color & Control:

Do you have FOSO?

The fear of switching off

We’ve all seen it… in the midst of a busy airport, city tours and pastoral tourist treks, there’s always one family member huddled in the corner or stepping away to anxiously respond to workplace texts, emails or phones calls.

Spending vacation time glued to work phones and email has, it seems, become the latest travel trend. A sister to FOMO, fear of missing out, FOSO is the fear of switching off. It speaks to an employee or business owner’s nagging feeling of missing out should they turn off their devices or leave them in the hotel room. For some, post pandemic working has also blurred the lines between work and time off, especially when work from home is in the everyday formula

Despite the fact that a survey of employers suggest that PWD’s work 46% harder than average, some people living with disabilities who may worry about “proving their value” in certain roles, could demonstrate greater levels of  FOSO. 

While FOMO is the uneasy feeling that people are having an interesting and exciting time without you, FOSO leaves you worrying about missing important things. In both cases the problem is when the anxiety and stress from it becomes overwhelming, and that can lead to:

• Poor sleep
• Low mood
• Increased anxiety
• Decreased quality of life
• Low concentration

And, if individuals are not careful all of the above can not only ruin holiday time and put stress on relationships but also impact long term health and on-the-job performance.

Let’s look at ways we can try to step away from the “Office related” screens on holidays, weekends and other private times.

Healthy boundaries
Setting a “no work while travelling” rule for yourself and sticking to it can make it a more enjoyable experience.

Agree to set times
If it’s essential set aside agreed times of day to check messages. Agree with your team at home that you’ll check e-mails when you’re back in your room during designated catchup time.

Do something else
A vacation is a usually a great time to try new things and broaden one’s horizons. Research and plan interesting experiences before you go. Why not sign up to learn a new skill, read a novel or watch that movie you’ve been longing to see?  Fill your day with enjoyable things and be sure to request support services in your location or during adventure of choice to avoid disappointment. With lots to do it’ll be easier to take a technology break and forget about what’s going on back home.

Make it inconvenient 
Take a good portion of our temptation away. Leave your phone at home when you go out to dinner. Turn off the computer completely after you are done what you’ve set out to do. Try to be more social if you have the chance. Spend time at the beach, on a boat and with friends. Search out group activities ahead of time that are inclusive and accessible enough o meet your needs.  

Delete the non-essentials
Before your holiday delete old accounts, you don’t need. This could also save you money as you notice the subscriptions you had for those run out. Also, removing anyone you don’t interact with, i.e., people you don’t actually now, means less people on your feeds and less content to view.

Make your own spa
Create a healthy vacation routine that’s good for body, mind and spirit and prioritizes you! Take control and allow time for longer baths or showers. Enjoys some nice soaps or bubble bath. Don’t rush to get dressed if you don’t have to. Consider booking a massage or a mani/pedi or using the sauna or steam room at the hotel/resort if there is one. Eat clean food and watch the alcohol. 

For a night time treat, bring your favourite tea and a robe (if where you’re going doesn’t have them in room). Pick a special scent or a candle that starts your bedtime ritual. Turn off the screens and let calming music lull you to sleep. 

End on a high note
Our brain tends to give extra consideration to things that happen last in a series of things. It’s called the recency effect. This means that the beginning of your holiday will be less memorable that the end. So, don’t work at all on your last day. And, if you’re going to upgrade, splurge or eat at a special restaurant, do it on the way back or on your last day. Nothing FOMO or FOSO about that. Just pure time-off pleasure.

P.S. Vacation calories don’t count! 

Natasha Way, Ahki Odayin, a two-spirit person of the Ojibwe People of Wikewemikong First Nations, and Bonnechere Mètis Nations of Ontario. They are an editing assistant, indigenous and disabilities rights advocate, community organizer and artist.

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