How to conquer your FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

Do you agonize over accepting a party invitation due to indecision, wanting to “keep your options open” while waiting to see what other opportunities may come your way? Are you constantly checking updates on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to make sure you’re not missing out on the latest breaking news or conversations? Do you feel as though others are living happy and fulfilling lives while you are not? Do you tend to compare yourself with others and feel as though you don’t measure up? If so, then you might be experiencing Fear of Missing Out, also known as FOMO.


What is FOMO?

A 2013 study in the journal Computers in Human Behavior defined Fear of Missing Out as a “pervasive apprehension that others are having rewarding experiences from which you are absent, coupled with the desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing.” The study found that FOMO was related to high levels of social media engagement and was also associated with a lack of mindfulness during important activities, such as driving.

With the increasing popularity of social media, it’s easier now than ever to keep tabs on what your friends and loved ones are doing. You’re likely comparing yourself to what others are doing with their lives and feeling inadequate as a result. It’s natural to make comparisons with the outcome of feeling inferior. FOMO is a combination of envy and insecurity that can contribute to anxiety, depressed mood and indecision. It may also lead to doubts about whether you’ve made the best decisions in life. But there is hope for change, if you follow these six tips to overcome FOMO:

Recognize and admit that this is an issue for you.

Take an honest look at your behaviors and emotions to determine if they are consistent with FOMO. Ask others who are close to you (family and friends) if they have noticed your struggle with being left out. It can be helpful to realize that you’re not the only one who struggles with this issue.

Accept that things are going to happen without you and that’s OK.

You can’t be everywhere and do everything. It’s simply impossible and unrealistic. Life is full of choices that can be difficult to make at times. There are often too many appealing choices and not enough time or resources to do them all. Learn to accept the outcome by appreciating your freedom to make a choice. You can always make different choices in the future.

Limit access to social media.

Check social media updates only once a day. Designate “device-free” areas in your home and life. For example, decide that you will not have devices while eating or when visiting with family or friends. Limit distractions by turning off all notifications except the most critical ones. Be present now rather than wishing you were somewhere else or doing something else.

Practice mindfulness and stop multitasking.

Learning to be present in the moment without judgment can lead to a calmer mind and increased appreciation for what is in front of you. One of the simplest mindfulness techniques is observing your breath. Choose a setting that isn’t too distracting. Work on breathing from the belly, instead of the chest. Even a few slow deep breaths can be effective in reducing feelings of stress and anxiety. Once you find a natural rhythm, you can add a mantra as you breathe in, such as “Live this moment.” Regular mindfulness practice can contribute to a happier and more fulfilling life.

Stop comparing your life to others.

Social media feeds often represent a “highlight reel” of a person’s life, accentuating the best and most exciting aspects of their lives. What you often fail to see are the struggles and more “normal” activities that all individuals encounter. Most of us aren’t partying or vacationing all the time. Find joy in your own current and immediate experiences, instead of searching for it elsewhere.

Learn to let go of worry about what you may be missing.

These are just a few suggestions for how to better manage FOMO. Feeling more secure with your choices in life can be difficult to achieve. But learning to let go of worry about what you may be missing and increasing your appreciation for what makes you satisfied can lead to a happier and more rewarding life.


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