Emotional and Mental
Tips to Deal With The Fear of Missing OutPublished: Nov. 1, 2023
The fear of missing out, or FOMO, refers to the feeling or perception that other people – whether you know them or not – are experiencing better things than you are. It involves a sense of envy and can impact your self-esteem. These emotions can be heightened if you’re comparing your situation to what friends in your social circle are experiencing.
Instagram. TikTok. Facebook. No matter where you go on social media, you’re inundated with someone else's accomplishments, like buying a house, landing a dream job, having a child or getting married. Social media allows you to compare your life to the highlights of others' lives, making you think others are “doing life right” or having more fun than you. It’s often not a good feeling.
“Social media has created a culture where you can feel like you’re losing out or being left out,” said Ellen McElderry, LIMHP, LADC, program manager for the Methodist Community Counseling Program. “Those negative emotions can impact your self-image and self-esteem. This fear of missing out skews your sense of what’s ‘normal’ and can affect your mental health.”
Why Do You Have FOMO in the First Place?
If you’re experiencing FOMO, you’re likely valuing the experiences that you don’t have more than the experiences that you do have.
“As negative as that is, you may not be able to stop ‘doom scrolling’ – when you get caught in a cycle of continuously scrolling through social media in hopes of finding something entertaining or that will make you feel better,” McElderry said.
How FOMO Impacts Your Mental Health and Well-Being
FOMO has also been linked to negative effects on your physical and mental health – creating mood swings, loneliness, feelings of inferiority, anxiety and increased levels of negativity and depression.
“Depressive symptoms come into play when you feel like there is nothing you can do to fix your situation,” said Susan Toth, MS, PLMHP, a Best Care EAP counselor. “Our brains can work against us in wanting to ‘fit in’ when it can be more helpful to consider, ‘What’s best for me?’ or ‘What would I like to be doing more of?’”
Toth suggests focusing on things that make you feel good about yourself.
To minimize FOMO, try these suggestions:
- Change your focus. Be more mindful. Rather than focusing on what you lack, notice what you have. A mindfulness practice is the best place to start and will help you become present in your daily life. When you’re more mindful, you will experience a reduction in anxiety and depression. It will also help you experience a sense of purpose, which reinforces your appreciation for what you have. For more on mindfulness, check out Best Care EAP’s Mindfulness webinar.
- Think about how the content you consume makes you feel. Take a look at the social media accounts you turn to most often. Are you relying on TikTok or Instagram to learn about current trends and events? If so, pay attention to how you feel when you watch content on those apps. Toth suggests that you ask yourself, “Do I feel overwhelmed? Do I feel annoyed, frustrated or sad?” If you answer yes to any of those questions, then stop following accounts or limit time on platforms that don't make you feel good.
- Keep a journal. Keeping a journal and writing about the people, experiences and activities unique to you can help shift your focus from public approval to private appreciation for the things that make your life great. This shift will help you get out of the “doom scrolling” cycle of frequently looking at social media.
- Seek out real connections. While social media can be a useful tool to help you stay connected with friends and family, it’s important to connect in person. Making plans with a friend, coordinating a group outing or doing anything that gets you out with friends can be a nice change of pace and help you shake that feeling that you are missing out. It puts you in the center of the action.
- Ask for help. If you’re feeling like FOMO is affecting your day-to-day life at a level that seems unmanageable, use your Best Care EAP and request a confidential appointment with a licensed counselor. Most situations can be resolved within two to three visits. Get started by filling out the Counseling Registration Form. If you have issues with the form, call Best Care EAP at (402) 354-8000 or (800) 801-4182. We’ll be glad to help.
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