The fear of missing out – or FOMO – is so much more that just a vaguely annoying cutesy acronym. It’s a real thing, and it thrives on on our social media saturated, more-is-more lifestyle. It’s the feeling you get when you see someone living their (seemingly) perfect Instagram life and posting about it on the daily. It’s the jealousy you feel when you think that your friends are having fun without you. It’s the dread that your life will never be good enough unless you can just manage to get the perfect body/job/partner/house/designer item. And it’s the creeping doubt that fills your mind on a casual Friday night when you wonder if you should be out there living life instead of drinking gin in bed while watching Grey’s Anatomy (although if that’s not living life, I frankly don’t know what is).
At least, that’s what fomo feels like for me.
I don’t get it all the time, but when I do it’s intense. Things I wouldn’t usually care about have me in knots of tension and I just can’t switch it off. It tends to happen when I’m feeling stressed or burnt out and now that I’ve identified the connection I can recognise that fomo isn’t based in reality. It will pass when I’m feeling more rested and at ease. This isn’t always enough to help me snap out of it, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
Here are some other things that help me fend off fomo…
Get away from social media
Instagram, Twitter, Facebook – whatever your vice, turn it off. Social media must be one of the main causes of fearing you’re missing out and the feelings of jealousy that go with it – of course it is, when it allows people to present a constructed idealised version of their lives.
Take a break from scrolling through feeds and remind yourself that people tend to show their best side and none of the work behind it. Yes, they may have posted a photo of them on a glamourous-looking holiday, but perhaps sacrificed other things to be able to afford it. And that immaculate interior shot? It doesn’t show the mess in the corner just out of frame, or the time it took to set up, shoot and edit the image.
Ask yourself if it’s something you really want to be doing
So you just saw a photo of your friends at a party you didn’t know about and now you’re convinced they all hate you and that you’re basically the most boring human on the planet. Sound familiar? Try asking yourself if you actually would have wanted to be at that party. I often get a pang of fomo and then (after hours of agonising) realise, wait, I actually don’t like doing x/y/z, so why am I even bothered?
Of course, sometimes you really do want to be at that party, or hanging out with those people, or living in that awesome looking city. If that’s the case you can ask yourself if what you’re feeling is actually telling you something needs to change. It could be something small, like organising a night out on your own terms, or something bigger like booking that trip you always wanted to go on, or even packing up and moving to another place.
Remind yourself of what you do have
This is one of those cheesy things that feels totally awkward, but is actually kind of helpful. Next time you’re worrying about what everyone else has/is doing, remind yourself of the good stuff you’ve got going on in your own life and write it down. Then focus on that. Maybe you live with awesome housemates, maybe you’ve just started a new job that you actually like, or maybe your hair is just looking really on point today – whatever it is (and I’m sure there is something) it can help to put things back into perspective. Think of it as the equivalent of Jemaine singing to Bret in Flight of the Conchords – you got it going on.
Spend time with people you love
Otherwise known as getting some real human interaction. My tendency when I get fomo in relation to my friends is to be like, “Hmph fine then, I’ll just ignore you”. This is stupid and not like me at all. It also doesn’t really help. If fomo has got you feeling low hug your housemate, arrange a coffee date with a friend, pick up the phone and call your family – do something that gets you back to reality.
Plan something you enjoy doing
What better way to get over what you’re not doing, than to organise something so you are. You could arrange dinner with friends, go on a spontaneous adventure, or start planning a holiday. It’s a great distraction but it also brings your focus back to my earlier points – what are these feelings actually telling you and what can you do to change that. I also find it helpful to do something on my own that I really enjoy. For instance I love solo trips to the cinema so that’s often my go-to. Taking yourself on a date can remind yourself that you don’t have to let other people’s lives (or their projection of their life) dictate how you feel about yourself, and it puts you back in control of your feelings.
What about you? Do you have any tips on dealing when fomo strikes?
If you liked reading this note, why not take a look through my Notes to Self series, a (mostly) weekly series of posts helping remind you, me, us to take better care of ourselves.
Image via Death to Stock