Your exhausted, it’s been a long week and all you want to do is curl up on the couch with your favourite book and a pizza. Then you get a text.
“Come out tonight, we’re heading to the pub!”
You sigh, you are so tired and want to just retreat for a while. But, it’s there, the nagging fear of missing out (FOMO). You don’t want to miss out of friends, missing out on the fun, potentially being ignored for future invites… it just starts to escalate.
FOMO is real and it can play havoc with our minds.
What is FOMO?
The fear of missing out (FOMO) is essentially a deep-rooted fear that you are missing out or will miss out on rewarding opportunities. We usually experience FOMO when it comes to our social lives.
FOMO can also rear its head on social media where we are bombarded with images of people looking wonderful, doing wonderful things and just generally, having wonderful lives. We start to think about how we are just not quite at that level and the cycle of negative thoughts can begin.
The dangers of FOMO
FOMO can be dangerous, for a number of reasons.
Firstly, FOMO has been shown to have a negative impact on people’s emotional wellbeing. FOMO is also associated with various mental health issues, such as fatigue and stress, which can in turn, cause people to experience problems with their physical health.
FOMO can also lead us to being addicted to social media which can continue the negative behaviour. We start to change as FOMO grows, for example we are more more likely to use social media immediately after waking up or right before going to sleep. As such, FOMO can be a strong predictor of social-media addiction.
Is FOMO always bad?
Not necessarily no. Sometimes FOMO can actually give us the proverbial kick up the backside that we need to break our habits. If we are stuck in a rut or being held back by other negative behaviours, a little bit of envy of what others are doing can prompt us to make positive changes.
The important part to note is that we need to recognise early when our FOMO is acting for good or bad.
How to I calm FOMO?
There are a few different techniques we can take to help manage the ‘bad’ FOMO. Let’s look at a few…
When does FOMO appear for you?
Is it on a weekend or during the night? By identifying when this thoughts creep in we can start to actively make plans to keep us from dwelling on the negative. If you feel you miss out on Sunday brunches, why not schedule in time to do the house chores you’ve been putting off and hit the silent button the mobile!
If you know that scrolling through Instagram will trigger FOMO, then it’s time to recognise that and put a cap on internet use.
Finding alternatives to take your mind of social media is a great start, break the pattern by creating a new pattern. Always wake up and reach for your phone? Stop, wake up, go straight to a calm space and try some gentle yoga or meditation.
Being Kind To Yourself
If you find that you don’t work well under pressure when asked to take part in an activity, time to reframe your thoughts. For example, if someone asks you out, reply with “Thank you, I’ll just have a think about it and get back to you.”
By doing this you are taking the pressure off yourself by allowing time to analyse how you feel, and work out if you are needing time out or if you can re-arrange some life tasks to head along to the event. By removing the ‘on the spot’ pressure of an answer, you can approach the situation from a place of calm.
At the end of the day, everyone is guilty of feeling a little FOMO. However, instead of worrying about the possibility that you’re missing out on things, try to actively celebrate this, by focusing on the benefits of missing whatever opportunities you’ve missed.
If you want to stay at home on the couch in your pyjamas and eat pizza, fabulous, you obviously needed it. You listened to your body and your mind and you acted on it, and self-care is just as important as a few drinks at a bar!