Here Are 8 Ways to Shut Down Your FOMO
Bummed you’re not at the party your friends are at right now? Welcome to FOMO, or the Fear of Missing Out. FOMO can cause people to feel sad, envious, and lonely—and obsessively check their social feeds. Say farewell to FOMO with these proven tips for spending more time enjoying the now—free of social media updates.
Journal about the positive
Keeping a diary reminds you that no matter what you have or don’t have—or have yet to achieve—you still have so much to be thankful for. “At the end of every day, write down three things you’re grateful for. It trains your brain to think in a more positive and present way about your life,” says Robi Ludwig, PsyD, a Manhattan-based psychotherapist and author of Your Best Age is Now. As you write, says Ludwig, remember that most of the stuff you worry about doesn’t happen anyway. Chinwe Williams, a licensed professional counselor and associate professor at Argosy University, adds: “Expressing yourself through writing can help to ease mental discomfort by releasing negative, destructive emotions. It enhances your self-awareness and understanding of what is deeply meaningful to you.” Plus, writing keeps you away from your phone and computer, which can be huge FOMO triggers.
Avoid comparions—especially to celebs
“Just because someone is a celebrity or a millionaire doesn’t mean they are happy or fulfilled. Life is hard for everyone in different ways,” says Dr. Ludwig. “No one has a perfect life, regardless of how things look on the outside. Develop a philosophy of life to remind yourself that you really are where you need to be. It’s good to be able to stop and pause and appreciate all the things you’ve created for yourself already.”
Be kind to yourself
If friends are doing something adventurous or fun—be it hiking in South America, training for a marathon, or quitting their jobs to start their own business—don’t throw yourself a pity party because they’re taking a risk and you’re not. “Tackling a new challenge is not always easy. The road to progress is pebbled with ups and downs and frequent setbacks,” says Dr. Williams. “Setting extremely high or unrealistic expectations for yourself increases the likelihood that you may not meet them, which can reinforce feelings of shame or self-doubt. Don’t beat yourself up! The key to optimizing efforts toward any goal is to remain persistent, recognize your accomplishments—no matter how small, and to be patient with yourself.” You have your own life’s journey, and they have theirs.
Don’t fixate on finances
If friends upload pictures of luxuries you cannot afford—such as a house, boat, or sports car—and it’s making you jealous, remember that these are just material goods. (Yes, even a house!) “Make a list of your own personal goals, create a plan with steps on how to pursue and successfully achieve these goals, and then set an obtainable date to reach these goals,” advises Danielle A. Irving-Johnson, MA, senior coordinator, professional projects and career services for the American Counseling Association. “We’ve all heard the famous quote ‘Money can’t buy happiness.’ Well, this is 100 percent true. We have to realize, or be reminded, that materialistic possessions and values do not determine our self-worth or how successful we are in life. It is our life experiences that make us rich and truly happy.”
Slow the mind
“Be present in the moment, slow down, and enjoy life, friends, family, hobbies, and activities,” says Irving-Johnson, about countering FOMO. Remember, if you’re constantly scrolling through social media, it can negatively affect your real-life, person-to-person relationships, and even your career. “Focus on one thing at a time. This way the task receives your undivided attention, and you’ll be more likely to be successful in producing a high-quality result.” Instead of chasing the next “thrill” or looking forward to the next event to come, actually take the time to enjoy the moment you are currently in.
Nurture important relationships
Relationships need maintenance, says Dr. Williams. “The importance of spending quality time with close friends and family cannot be overestimated. While there are a dozen technological ways to connect with friends, there’s nothing like real face time, specifically sharing the same space and breathing the same air as another human being. Small gestures build strong connections. Plan to spend time with loved ones on a routine basis just to unwind, laugh, and have some old fashion fun. You know that person that keeps popping up in your mind this week? Give him/her a call!” For inspiration, here are 30 moving best friend quotes that celebrate special bonds.
Take a hike—literally
Instead of sitting on your bed just staring at your phone for hours, get your body moving—it will do you some good, and you might even lose a few pounds. “Thanks to cognitive neuroscience, we know that physical health is a key component of mental health. The mind and body are not just connected but deeply intertwined. Movement-based practices have been shown to boost endorphins, and alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression,” says Dr. Williams. “Physical activity can also help clear your head, making room for sharper focus. Whether you do a yoga workout in your room or go for a hike, try to commit to brief, but regular, exercise practices.” Clear the mind, clear the social media obsession. Baby steps!
Acknowledge you may need help
If you find yourself constantly checking your social media pages and truly feel as if you cannot disengage for a few hours or cancel your accounts, it may be time to seek professional help. First, ask friends—in person!—to help you identify the reasons why you need to feel so connected to others, via a screen. If you keep making the same excuses such as, “I want to see what fun everyone is having while I’m stuck at home with my baby,” then perhaps it’s time to kiss social media goodbye for a while. (Here’s what could happen to your mind and body if you quit social media for a bit.) If you have recurring excuses about why you’re always on Facebook or Twitter, don’t rule out therapy to pull you out of this rut. “Find a professional to help you develop new strategies for a game plan so you can create a new life change of empowerment,” says Wendy O’Connor, PsyD, a Los Angeles-based psychotherapist. “Create your new life with meaning, purpose, and passion. Find a proactive therapist that is action-oriented with long-term and short-term plans to help you move out of your old story and into your new story!” These are the clear signs you’re way too addicted to your phone.