“Sunshine Guilt” Is the Toxic Habit I’m Ditching This Weekend

published May 24, 2024
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Picture this: It’s a beautiful Saturday morning filled with sunny skies, perfect temperatures, and tons of potential plans. But I don’t feel up to any of it. In fact, I’d rather park it on the couch for the whole weekend, watching bad TV and perfect rom-coms. But instead of accepting that a weekend-long couch hang is what my mind (and body) need to feel restored, I’m making myself feel guilty about not getting out and making the most of the weather. Can you relate?

Quick Overview

What is “sunshine guilt”?

“Sunshine guilt” is that feeling you get when you feel bad or anxious for staying inside on a beautiful day.

If you can, you might, like me, be prone to experiencing “sunshine guilt” — and it’s a toxic feeling I’m trying to get rid of ASAP. “Sunshine guilt” is defined as the guilt you feel when, rather than making the “most” of a beautiful day of weather by getting into the outdoors, you stay inside and chill out. Although “sunshine guilt” as a term was popularized recently as a viral TikTok trend, that doesn’t mean that the phenomenon is anything new. 

In fact, Dr. Sally Nazari, PsyD, spoke to Apartment Therapy last year about why that guilt over staying inside gets weekend couch potatoes like me nowhere. First of all, that guilt is super unnecessary because it’s “one day, not the totality of the summer or the year,” she said. If what you really need is a day of rest, that “sunshine guilt” can make it so that rest that you need doesn’t feel very restful at all.

That’s why when I’m ditching my plans in the real world and choosing to spend a weekend seeing absolutely no one, I make sure that I’m still doing activities that are restorative and grounding for me. First, it’s important that if I’m staying in I (try to) ditch all the guilt about it and lean in to knowing I’m doing right by me — and my friends will understand.

Secondly, although I may indulge in a hurkle-durkle this weekend, I’ll make sure that I’m doing things that I know make me feel good once I do get out of bed and start my day. That might include hopping on my Peloton for a ride, making sure I get in some “floor time,” or taking a long walk with my dog before I get home, lay down on the couch, and put my phone on do not disturb

It’s also a good idea, per Hilary Jacobs Lendel, LCSW, to “bring the outside in.” That means I’ll open up all my windows and prop open my deck door to get some fresh air through my apartment. I’m still enjoying the sunshine — just on my own terms.