Here Are 8 Ways to Shut Down Your FOMO
Yes, you can overcome your fear of missing out, or FOMO. Here are tips from mental health experts on how to handle social media and feel better about yourself
Overcome your FOMO
Pop-up notifications about birthdays, weddings, and any new content on social media are an everyday fact of life. While it's great to know that your friends are at a fun show or traveling to a gorgeous location, it can also fuel your fear of missing out (FOMO).
You may compare your life to those of your friends, family, and even strangers you follow on social media, and start to question your self worth. You may think “Why are my friends at a party I wasn't invited to?” or “Is something wrong with me?” FOMO can cause people to feel sad, envious, and lonely—and obsessively check their social feeds.
The truth is it’s normal to experience a little bit of FOMO, but when it consumes your life, it’s time to face that you may have a problem.
Here are tips from experts on how to overcome FOMO and feel better about yourself. (Here's how to boost your confidence instantly.)
Journal about the positive
Keeping a diary may help remind you that 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 New York City-based psychotherapist and author of Your Best Age is Now. As you write, says Dr. 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 in Atlanta, 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." she adds. Plus, writing keeps you away from your phone and computer, which can be huge FOMO triggers.
Avoid comparisons—especially to celebs and influencers
"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. 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 your friends are going backpacking in Europe or starting a new business, don't throw yourself a pity party. "Tackling a new challenge is not always easy. The road to progress is pebbled with ups and downs and frequent setbacks," says Williams. If you set extremely high or unrealistic expectations for yourself, says Williams, this increases the likelihood that you may not meet them. Thus, this reinforces feelings of shame or self-doubt. 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, Williams advises. You have your own life's journey, and they have theirs. Also, here are some benefits of talking to yourself.
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, a career services specialist for the American Counseling Association in Alexandria, Virginia. "We've all heard the famous quote 'Money can't buy happiness.' Well, this is 100 percent true," she says. "We have to realize, or [remind ourselves], 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 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." She suggests planning to spend time with loved ones on a routine basis just to unwind, laugh, and have some old fashion fun.
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. "Thanks to cognitive neuroscience, we know that physical health is a key component of mental health," says Williams. "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 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.
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 continue to make the same excuses, such as, "I want to see what fun everyone is having while I'm homebound with my baby," then perhaps it's time to take a hiatus from social media. (Here's what could happen to your mind and body if you quit social media for a bit.)
You could also choose to seek therapy for additional help. "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. Seek 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."
- Robi Ludwig, PsyD, a New York City-based psychotherapist and author of Your Best Age is Now
- Chinwe Williams, a licensed professional counselor and associate professor at Argosy University in Atlanta
- Danielle A. Irving-Johnson, a career services specialist for the American Counseling Association, in Alexandria, Virginia
- Wendy O'Connor, PsyD, a Los Angeles-based psychotherapist