Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

Are you suffering from FOMO? That horrible Fear Of Missing Out.

  • How often do you spend your weekend wondering what your friends or colleagues are up to?
  • Does it give you a sinking feeling when you think other people might be doing something more fun or exciting than you?
  • Are you worried that you’re missing out?

The advent of social media has brought huge opportunities to share what we do; to upload photos and videos of us having fun and living life. However, for many people it has also created a sense that we are somehow missing out. Everyone seems to be having a better time than us; having more fun in exciting places. This can lead us to fear that we are missing out on the world around us and that everyone else is somehow having a party without us.

This problem creates a doubly negative impact – not only do we feel like we are missing out but because we are too worried about everyone else having a better time than us, we are not fully present in the moment  so don’t enjoy what we are doing either. Caught in this state of being neither here nor there we can feel inadequate or rejected.

So, how do we conquer FOMO?

Acceptance:  Firstly, accept that you will miss out on some things. The world is such a busy place with so many things going on all the time that you cannot physically attend to all of them.

Identify: Workout what you really want. What’s important to you? Spending time with family, hobbies, work, travel? Do you want new experiences? Do you want material things?

Prioritise: Now you know what you really want you can prioritise the things you do / places you go / people you see etc. By choosing to spend time on the things you value, you know if you are missing out on other things then it doesn’t really matter because you are doing things that are most important to you.

Practise being mindful: Whatever you choose to do be fully present. Make sure you focus on what you are doing and give your full attention to the people you are with.

I love this quote from Jim Rohn who explains it simply

“When at work, work. When at play, play”.

For example if you are on holiday with your family or loved ones concentrate on spending quality time with them and don’t start checking  your emails – you’ll only feel guilty if you do as you’ll be aware that you are not giving them your full attention and you’re likely to not be giving your best to your work either.

If you notice your mind drifting off to other things, acknowledge what you are thinking about and gently bring your focus back to the here and now. I find the following mindfulness exercise really helpful for this as it engages all your senses to make you more aware:

  • Look around you and name 5 things in your head (e.g. chair, pen, plant)
  • Listen deeply – identify 4 different sounds (e.g. hum of traffic or air conditioning, birds singing)
  • Notice what 3 things you can feel (e.g. clothing on your skin, the breeze on your face)
  • Breathe in and notice 2 things you can smell (e.g. coffee)
  • And lastly notice 1 thing you can taste.

An even simpler version of this if you need a really quick nudge in the right direction is to look around you and literally name 3 things, taking a deep breath after each one.

Lastly, set yourself some boundaries. Be a little more savvy about how you use social media, for example:

  • Reduce your time on social media
  • Restrict your use to certain times of the day (going on before you get out of bed is not a good idea!)
  • Set a timer and only go on for short periods of time.

Whatever you do, be there and enjoy it!