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Fear of Missing Out

FOMO, or “Fear of Missing Out”, describes the compulsive fear that a more interesting or enjoyable event is currently happening elsewhere. If you’ve ever regretted missing a fun party, or stressed yourself out deciding between social plans, you’ve experienced some form of FOMO.

Feelings of envy and regret are not a new phenomenon, but the rise of internet culture and social media platforms have made FOMO more intense than ever. The popularity of apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter has made it possible to actually see the events that you are missing out on. Our grandparents were only able to imagine such events.

These online images are often highly curated, unrealistic versions of events, compounding the problem further. It would be hard enough to feel like you’re missing out on that party, but the VSCO-edited staged candids make it worse.

Moderation is Key

We’re not suggesting that you shouldn’t use post media to post and share moments from your life. We understand the value of social media on the internet – it’s essential now. Don’t be such a cynic that you completely desert these platforms. Just keep in mind that things may not be exactly as they seem. Consume social media and the internet in moderation.

Science Says…

Studies have shown that even when you’re actually enjoying the time you’re having, you may still experience FOMO. When all you’re seeing is the fantasy version or things, your reality will always seem disappointing.

To make matters worse, the obsession with monitoring social media has made it easier to avoid interacting with each other in real life. This increases the risk of getting stuck in your own head, making you feel even more isolated and inferior. Even when we do spend time with friends, we’re on our screens looking at pictures that can give us FOMO!

The good news is, once we understand that the events we are seeing online are not representative of reality, we can strip them of their value. Instead of chasing the feeling of contentment and satisfaction from others, we can shift that desire inwards, on ourselves. We can achieve this by practicing gratitude, and appreciating the value of the life we are living right now.

Putting this mindset of gratitude and appreciation into practice can be a challenge, but here are some tips to help: 

Practice Mindfulness

Between the never-ending social media cycle and the instant gratification of the internet, there aren’t many opportunities for our minds to take a break. Deliberately practicing mindfulness creates this break, allowing your mind to relax and better recognize FOMO for what it is. You can practice mindfulness at any time, by actively focusing only on what’s happening in the present moment. Try it while washing the dishes, or simply walking down the street.

You might call this deep relaxation, meditation, or some other term, but they will lead to the same result. The point is to put away your devices and disconnect for some time as you let your mind calm. Here’s a Hardvard.edu Health article for six relaxation techniques. Find the one that works best for you (and let us know!)

Reduce your “Screen” Time: Online, Social Media and TV

The easiest way to overcome FOMO is by avoiding the cause of it. The more you can reduce time spent on the internet, social media, TV, or anything else that can trigger FOMO, the better. Look around and realize that there is nothing more interesting than your own reality.

If you find yourself still experiencing the mental/emotional sensation of FOMO even when disconnected, then you should change your surroundings. Try going to the gym, for a walk/hike, or creating some art.

Focus on Yourself 

Frequently, the lack of self-gratitude that causes FOMO is a result of not spending time with yourself. It can be difficult, but try to get out of the habit of spending all of your free time on your phone (or laptop). The more time you spend alone reading, writing, or doing something creative, the more you’ll appreciate yourself and your time. There are billions of people on earth, but only one you!

Social media’s popularity and reach grows more and more every day, with no signs of stopping. This makes it more important than ever to be able to recognize FOMO, and have strategies in place to overcome it. By regularly practicing these techniques, you’ll see this “fear” for the illusion that it is, and limit its effect on your life.

Don’t miss out on what actually matters: your life right now!

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