What is FOMO?

FOMO. Even if you’re not familiar with this acronym, it’s likely you’ll relate to it. FOMO is the Fear Of Missing Out, an anxiety caused by witnessing others participate in things which you are not or were not present for.

We experience FOMO when we thumb through Instagram stories and see how cool that party on Saturday night was or how much fun our friends are having at the beach. Maybe we weren’t invited to the party, or maybe we were but we had to work.

FOMO even creeps up in the middle of a conversation, and we feel compelled to open Snapchat or Twitter to make sure we’re not missing out on anything.

FOMO brings up our insecurities about feeling lonely, inadequate, or discouraged with our personal and social lives. FOMO asks, Am I doing enough? Do my friends like me? Why didn’t I get invited to the party? Why do I always have to work? What if I miss out on the next beach trip? FOMO is a cyclical pattern of negative thoughts which can consume your mind and rule over your choices. How can we stop it?

1. Acknowledge That Social Media Makes Your FOMO Worse (Much, Much Worse)
When we log into social media (if we’re ever even logged out, that is), we’re bombarded with photos and videos of other people’s lives.

Our insecurities can often lead us to comparing our thoughts, lives, and bodies to those online. If the second we log into Instagram we see the body of a model, or our friends on vacation on a cruise, or everything you missed out on last weekend, Instagram can easily become a toxic place that makes our FOMO worse and in turn, triggers our insecurities and anxieties and fuels the negative thought cycle.

Acknowledging that our social media accounts have a huge hand in influencing how we talk to ourselves as well as how much time we spend scrolling through our phones is an important step in confronting FOMO. Using social media less can be a reliable way to feel more in the moment, which brings us to the next suggestion.

2. Practice Mindfulness

How can we feel present in our own lives if FOMO looms over us everyday? Using our
smartphones differently may help. Ask yourself: if you just scrolled through Facebook and Instagram two minutes ago, what is compelling you to check it again now? Maybe you’re feeling lonely or anxious and you need a distraction. But will going onto social media help? Acknowledging your patterns and noticing when you feel susceptible to the draw of your phone can be helpful here.

When you feel like you need a distraction, instead of going on social media, do something more intentional with your energy, something that will bring you into yourself and the your feelings. Call a friend. Take a pen and paper and write your feelings down or just doodle. Turn your phone on airplane mode so you are less tempted to use it and go on a walk.

You know when your parents told you to turn the TV off for dinner or to put the video games away for the night? Consider doing that with your phone! It doesn’t have to be for hours, but you may find that even thirty minutes of no-phone time will help ground you. And it might even bring you to something joyful, which leads us to…

3. Embrace JOMO

Sounds a lot like FOMO, right? Except JOMO is not about fear, it’s about joy. JOMO: the Joy Of Missing Out. Have you ever accidentally left your phone at home and, in addition to the panic you felt, slightly relished in the freedom?

Even if you haven’t, maybe this “freedom” sounds appealing to you. Imagine escaping FOMO. Imagine enjoying and accepting that you will miss out on a lot of things in life… that missing out is okay, that not being on your phone is okay, that being unplugged can be amazing!

Missing out does not equate to being worthless or unloveable, even if we feel that way when we see our friends doing things without us. Try viewing missing out on things as opportunities for you to prioritize your goals: one of which could be joy! Embracing JOMO is really just another way of practicing mindfulness. Leave your phone on airplane mode, leave your phone at home, don’t worry about updating Instagram with what you’re doing.

When focusing on our own joys, comparing ourselves to people online (don’t forget: models get paid to be beautiful and fit) could become less of an automatic part of using social media.

There’s no need for anyone to continually subject themselves to a social media that hurts their feelings or sense of self. Let’s try to say goodbye to FOMO and spend our time feeling good, present, and joyful!