5 Ways to Conquer Your FOMO, Once and for All
Take a stand against those frustrating feelings of missing out, in partnership with Yogi®.
Imagine this: You’re going about your day when you decide to take a quick scroll through social media. Out of nowhere, dark thought clouds infiltrate your otherwise sunny mindset.
“Everyone gets to do such cool things while I’m stuck at my boring job!”
“Amber and her boyfriend are so cute and in love—and I’m still alone.”
“Julie is always traveling to amazing places—I wish I could go.”
If you’re living in the 21st century, these thoughts probably sound all too familiar. In fact, they’ve become so common that the term FOMO (fear of missing out) was coined.
FOMO feels different for everyone, but a common interpretation is “anxiety around not doing or being a part of something social that one believes they could have done or been part of,” explains Megan Bruneau, M.A., a therapist and life coach.
While FOMO is not a diagnosable mental disorder, it does stem from a legit evolutionary adaptation, Bruneau explains. “As humans evolved, emotions like envy, hurt, exclusion, and rejection developed to motivate us to stay with the group—otherwise we may not have survived or procreated.”
Even though we no longer need to worry about being left behind in the Sahara, we still feel pain when left out or excluded from a group. Plus, the advent of social media has propelled FOMO into the stratosphere, points out Teodora Pavkovic, a psychologist and parenting coach. A few years ago, you may have imagined what others were doing without you, but today it’s on display 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Luckily, the solution isn’t to log off and delete social media forever. Next time you’re feeling funky, follow these five expert steps to crush your FOMO and love your life, no matter what others are doing.
1. Be okay with not doing it all.
It’s a simple fact of physics: You can’t be everywhere at the same time. And trying to do every single thing you want to do actually sounds pretty stressful, when you think about it.
“Remind yourself that by saying ‘no,’ you’re actually saying ‘yes’ to yourself or another opportunity that serves you better,” Bruneau says. That opportunity could be restoring your energy by simply relaxing at home or catching up on sleep, rather than going out to the same old bars. Or perhaps it’s focusing your attention on a side hustle or work project that will help propel your career forward, instead of taking a weekend trip.
2. Ask yourself: If this weren’t on social media, would I really want to do it?
Theoretically, we all know that social media profiles are a filtered, fake-laughter-filled highlight reel, Bruneau says—rather than the real stuff that happens in our lives. But we also know that’s easy to forget.
Maybe you open social media and see some friends trying that trendy new sushi restaurant, or a couple you know gallivanting around New York. And for a moment, it stings. “Man, I wish I were there,” you think to yourself.
But let’s be real for a sec. Sure, that restaurant looks good, but the Thai takeout you had for dinner was just what you were craving. Or maybe you’re at home with a good show on television, candles, and a cup of Yogi® Mango Ginger tea—which is much cozier and warmer than traipsing around the cold streets of New York City, after all.
So, before you start down burrowing down a FOMO rabbit hole, take a step back and ask yourself: “Would I really want to be there if I didn’t see it on social media?”
3. Don’t believe everything you think.
“Negative emotions are sticky—they tend to build up and pull each other in,” Pavkovic says. “So, if you are already feeling left out, then you are more likely to start being hard on yourself with thoughts like, ‘Well, they have more money than I do, so of course they are out doing things together without me.’ Or, ‘Of course they excluded me because I’m the “boring” one in the group,’ and so on.” Unfortunately, our minds tend to naturally gravitate toward these thoughts, she explains.
The first step to fighting back: Stop believing all those thoughts running through your head. “Acknowledge that your brain is trying to help you figure this out, even if those thoughts are simply not true,” Pavkovic says. Thank your brain for trying to help, and then shift your focus to what you are doing in the present moment. “Even if all you are doing is sitting at home listening to your music playlist, remind yourself why: You’ve had an intense week, and you are disconnecting and recharging.”
If the advice to “be present” sounds familiar, it might be because it’s a tenet of the much-talked-about concept of mindfulness, which is one of the best remedies for FOMO, Pavkovic says. These days, we have a huge number of things demanding our attention pretty much all of the time, and mindfulness can help us choose what to pay attention to (and what not to worry about).
4. Aim for quality over quantity of social interactions.
In this era, it’s so easy to be social—friends and even total strangers are just a text or a swipe away. Especially for younger people, this can create the illusion that everyone is hanging out or going out all the time, Pavkovic says. This can worsen your FOMO, since you feel like you’re the only one who’s alone.
Social interactions should be more about truly connecting with people you love, “rather than about being ‘seen’ posting things on social media,” Bruneau says. Instead of aspiring to a big buffet of a social life, seek out interactions that are more like a truly satisfying meal: One that you savor slowly, appreciating every bite, Bruneau suggests. Thinking of social functions this way can also help you discern which events you actually want to attend—versus the ones that are unnecessary additions to your already full plate.
5. Be your own best friend.
FOMO means we’re looking outside of ourselves for happiness. So it makes sense that a cure would be to look inward, right? One of the best ways to get over FOMO is to learn to be content by yourself, says Kate Cummins, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist with a private practice. “Even if you consider yourself an extrovert, you still need to take time to be in touch with yourself and check in with your real needs, as opposed to what you think you need,” she explains. In other words, you may not need to go to that party, but what you really need is good old-fashioned R&R. Here are a few ideas to take advantage of your alone time:
Spend the first 30 minutes of your day with only yourself.Meditate, write down three things you’re grateful for, or practice some yoga—sans smartphone.
Take yourself on a date. Go see that movie that none of your friends want to see. Cook yourself an elegant dinner at home, or try out that new restaurant—table for one, please!
Schedule a solo tea session one night a week. Grab your favorite tea, light candles, and take out a journal while listening to your favorite playlists.
Whatever you do, make sure you put the phone down—or at least that you aren’t mindlessly scrolling. “It’s so easy to always be looking for the next event,” Cummins explains. “But humans can show up better for others—and be there for themselves—when they have a little bit of quiet time.”
Turn your FOMO into JOMO.