Do you find yourself saying yes to every engagement, even if you’d rather be doing something else? Or, maybe you’re constantly saying no, so you don’t commit because something better might come along?
Then, once you are doing something, you’re not present because you’re glued to your phone haunted by everything else that is or could be happening?
If this sounds familiar, then you’re a victim of FOMO, and you’re not alone.
Not only is FOMO, or the fear of missing out, a common experience, but 48% of millennials have gone into debt to avoid FOMO.
So what is this feeling, and what are some tips for how to deal with FOMO?
What is FOMO?
Fomo is the anxious feeling that other people are enjoying a rewarding experience that you’re missing out on.
FOMO can be related to anything, from a night out, to travel destinations, to projects and promotions at work, to life accomplishments, and everything in between.
FOMO isn’t a new concept, but with social media, it’s so easy to know what everyone we know (and tons of people we don’t know) are doing all the time, which is a huge FOMO trigger.
So what’s the problem with FOMO?
Well, for starters, who needs more anxiety?
Plus, FOMO has negative health impacts, like increased depressive symptoms, decreased mindfulness, and adverse physical symptoms.
Not to mention that FOMO is a huge contributing factor to social media addiction and that it keeps us from enjoying real life in the present moment.
So what are some tips for how to deal with FOMO, so you can stop living in fear, and enjoy the moment?
1. Figure Out What’s Missing in Your Life
Research shows that people with lower levels of life satisfaction are more likely to experience the fear of missing out.
So if you’re experiencing FOMO, then there might be a thing or two about your life you’re not completely satisfied with. This doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you; it just means you’re still growing.
No one likes to admit what’s not going great in their lives, so I’ll go first.
After a year of living in beautiful Boulder, Colorado, and two years of traveling the world, my boyfriend and I just moved back home to New York.
As someone who isn’t a huge fan of New York, this reality brings me immense place-based FOMO. Every time I see a friend or stranger living on the west coast, or in an area more immersed in nature, or with warmer weather, or more spirituality, I can’t stop feeling down about all the things I’m missing out on.
What makes it easier for me to shrug off this FOMO is knowing that being in New York isn’t permanent, I’m actively working on figuring out where and when to go next. It also helps to focus on the positive stuff, like that I get to spend time with my friends and family, and that I don’t have to rush into a big move until I’m ready.
So what are you unsatisfied with and what can you do to change it?
Spending a little more time focusing on making a change, instead of scrolling through social media, can help you feel a lot less FOMO.
2. Don’t Compare Behind The Scenes Footage to a Highlight Reel
Whether you love social media or love-hate it, there’s no denying that social media is a highlight reel.
I bet there’s at least one time when you’ve posted a picture or story on social media of you having a great time, but in reality, it wasn’t that great.
Even the posted moments that are great aren’t the reality for anyone 24/7.
While traveling through Thailand, I was sure to post all the breathtaking temples and drool-worthy food. But I wasn’t posting pictures of the night I spent running out of a cab to puke on the side of a busy highway in Bangkok because of food poisoning.
This doesn’t only apply to social media either, remember, people play highlight reels in real life too.
Like when you’re in a fight with your significant other and catch yourself looking at other loving couples with envy, when in reality on a good day, your relationship has likely been the cause of envy in others.
So just because you’re caught in a behind the scenes moment, don’t feel like you’re missing out because someone else is presenting their highlight reel.
3. Limit or Alter Social Media Use
No answer to how to deal with FOMO would be complete without mentioning a change to social media habits.
Now I’m not saying you should get on your phone and start deleting all your social media apps forever, but changing your relationship with social media can help lessen the impact of FOMO and decrease loneliness and depression.
A few months ago, I deleted Instagram for a week, and while it was weird at first, after a day, I felt more present, less anxious, and overall a lot less interested in what people were doing online.
But you don’t have to delete Instagram for a week; you can delete it for a day, limit social media scrolling to certain times of the day, and reevaluate who you follow to get a better social media experience.
4. Embrace JOMO
Instead of living in fear, learn how to embrace the joy of missing out - because sometimes missing out is exactly what you need.
We live in a society that convinces us that we should constantly be doing, that the busier you are, the better your life is.
There have been so many times when my boyfriend and I have felt pressured to go out, but what we wanted to do was spend the night in, cooking, watching Netflix, and unwinding.
I’m sure you can relate, and you know what?
After jam-packed days, we’ve never regretted our decision to just stay in and embrace the joy of missing out.
While staying in and unwinding with your significant other, friends, or family is important and can help your brain and body reset, quality alone time is essential too.
Research shows that even small amounts of alone time can help balance the highs and lows we feel in the day, so go on and enjoy your “me time” guilt-free.
5. Prioritize Your Plans
While it’s important to have alone time and time to rest and relax, real-life socialization is essential for health and wellness. So how do you manage to make plans without the pressure of FOMO?
Prioritize your time based on what truly adds value to your life.
Do you really need to go to every party you’re invited to? Probably not. But, is it a good idea to find the time to see your good friend who is only in town for one day? Absolutely.
Or maybe going out for dinner or drinks every weekend because you’re afraid of missing out is not as valuable as saving the money you would spend, and adding it to your travel (or anything else) fund instead.
When you start prioritizing by filling your time with valuable experiences, instead of experiences you’re obliged to out of fear, then you’re really not missing out on anything.
6. Be Present and Grateful
I know it seems like mindfulness and gratitude are the answers to every problem today, but in many ways, being present is the cure to FOMO, and practicing gratitude helps too.
The other day my cousin mentioned to me that one of her favorite things about my boyfriend is how present he is - “he always gives you his undivided attention, he’s fully in the moment.”
This is a quality I admire myself; my boyfriend genuinely doesn’t experience FOMO, and I have to hand it to his ability to be present.
Whether we’re chasing waterfalls in Bali or sitting at a coffee shop in Brooklyn, he is fully in the moment. He’s not thinking of where else he could be, or what else he could be doing, and because he only focuses on the moment, there’s nothing to miss out on.
So next time you’re doing anything, try to give it all of your attention, and forget about the what-ifs. This takes practice, but it’s worth it.
And if you have a hard time with that (like me), then try to shift your focus to gratitude.
6 Ways to Express Gratitude Every Day of Your Life
Whenever I start to feel like I’m missing out I try to remind myself of all the people who would be so grateful to have a life like mine, and all the things I have to be grateful for, whether it’s my health, family, work, etc., and this helps push any FOMO out of the way.
After all, gratitude is a must!