In your 20s, you may have loved going out and relishing the fact that you could legally enjoy a drink or have a night out on the town with friends a few years ago, but now you just want to come home, put on your comfiest clothing, and curl up with a book or your favorite TV show. Whether it’s because you’re exhausted from work or are finally just comfortable spending time by yourself, you might find yourself constantly bailing on your social plans.
Enjoying “me” time is great, but if you’re always bailing, it may be worth it to explore why you don’t want to go out, and to figure out ways to integrate more social interaction into your life. Here are five possible reasons why you constantly bail on your social plans, and what to do about it:
Burnout at work
Solution: Set boundaries at the office.
Burnout from work has become a common reason for mental and physical illness, and it could be causing you to bail on your plans. It’s easy to get swept up in work and feel like you always have to be “on” in order to be your best — answer your emails quickly, work late, arrive early. It can seem like everything is coming at you a mile a minute, but the key to successfully navigating your career is creating a lifestyle that works for you. When you’re exploring how to set more boundaries at work, it’s important to become more comfortable with saying “no” so you don’t take on too much.
If leaving emails unanswered stresses you out, consider putting an away message on when you leave the office for the evening and on the weekends. Something like, “Thanks for reaching out! I’ve stepped away from my computer for the evening, but will get back to you when I’m back in the office tomorrow” can assure people that you will get back to them while making them understand they shouldn’t expect an answer right away. Using this tactic can help reduce anxiety relating to emails so you can relax a bit more and venture out to more social events.
Solution: Get creative, invite people over, or find inexpensive ways to hang out.
Let’s be real: going out to dinner or drinks is fun, but it gets expensive real fast. Financial strain is a common factor in mental health, and spending money on going out with friends can be really stressful if you’re on a tight budget. A recent study examined 65 students and found a potential link between mental health and financial problems, so if you’re feeling stressed about finances, you’re not alone.
Instead of bailing on plans to go out with friends, try getting creative to suggest more budget-friendly options to hang out. You can also impress your friends by having them over for a delicious meal.
If you want to make it more communal, suggest a potluck-style dinner so everyone contributes, or ask your guests to bring their favorite beverage for everyone to try. This will be far less expensive than going out, brings everyone together to try something new, and can be more comfortable for introverts or homebodies who prefer to be in a home environment.
You’re a homebody
Solution: Arrange less frequent, but more impactful social engagements.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a homebody, but it can make you a bit of a hermit if you’re not mindful about it. Make your plans to go out worth it so you’re excited about them. By creating social engagements that matter to you, you’ll be more motivated to go to them. Motivation partly stems from value, so if you value an event or what you can gain from it, (social interaction, supporting a friend, etc.) you’ll be more inclined to go to it. Additionally, reflecting on why an activity is meaningful could make you more invested in it. If you cram your social calendar full of events and engagements that you don’t really care about, you’ll be much more likely to bail.
Instead of feeling busy, leave your calendar open, save for a select few opportunities that excite you.
On the flip side, if you don’t know anyone, force yourself a bit out of your comfort zone, go to networking events, or get creative with how to meet people. Try taking a class in something you enjoy. This could be an exercise class, cooking class, or maybe an educational class. When you take classes that aren’t forced upon you through the regular constraints of school, you’ll meet like-minded people who are also choosing to spend their time in the class. Again, if you’re struggling with bailing on classes, don’t jump all in. Take it slow and schedule a class for once a week — or once every few weeks — so it’s manageable. Setting appointment and class times will also help with your accountability.
Solution: Leave the toxic friendships behind!
I’m a firm believer that friendships ebb and flow, and that you don’t have to hold on to friendships if they don’t serve you well. There doesn’t need to be any bad blood or burned bridges, but if you constantly dread hanging out with someone or a group of people because of how they make you feel or act, it’s probably time to move on.
Try and meet people who are like-minded, or people who you enjoy being around. Go to an exercise class (if you can’t tell, that’s one of my go-to ways to meet new friends!) or try something new in a group setting. If you have a dog, go to the dog park — nothing bonds people like a love for their furry companions. Getting out and about will help you meet people who have the same mindset as you. Chances are that you’ll meet at least one person who enjoys the same activities as you so you (hopefully) don’t dread your plans.
Solution: Assess whether your mental health might be a factor in why you’re constantly dreading your plans.
Do you fall into one or more of the above listed categories, or have you found yourself becoming more disengaged within multiple areas of your life? If you find yourself dreading going out, getting out of bed, going to work, or doing things that you normally enjoy, it might be time to reach out for some help. Talk to a loved one to let them know how you’re feeling and strategize a game plan to help you get on track. If you already have a trusted medical professional, make an appointment to talk this through. If you don’t have a therapist, you can make an appointment with another doctor you trust and they can refer you to someone.
Mental health is extremely important. Try to take an unbiased look at your life and acknowledge the difference between bailing on social plans for a specific reason vs. feeling like you don’t want to get out of bed in the morning. There is absolutely nothing wrong with needing help — whether it is professional or from a loved one. You’re not alone, so if you’re feeling at all emotionally unstable, reach out.
For more information, contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), SAMHSA at 1-800-662-HELP (4357), or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.
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