Picture this: you’re sitting at home on a weekend night, watching your Instagram Stories, when you stumble on a video of all your friends on a boozy night out. Or, it’s the following morning, and you’re scrolling through you’re your feed only to see that you missed out.
Enter, FOMO, “fear of missing out”. FOMO is biological — humans are naturally social creatures so the idea that others having more fun than us elicits in most people a stress response that feels the same as physical pain. It can cause phone addictions and has a gravitational pull on your attention. And, unfortunately, it’s a stressor you can’t avoid.
While we all know “comparison is the thief of joy”, humans are hard-wired to always measure up and compare themselves to others. And, most of the time, after the comparison, we aren’t viewing ourselves favourably.
So, that being said, there are a few things you can do to help you address your FOMO.
Consider That You Could Otherwise Be Unhappy
As we get older, our friends likely have different friendship circles and you won’t be available to come to everything or around if something spontaneous pops up. Therefore, if you often feel a sense of FOMO, it could be because you are generally feeling lonely or are feeling unhappy about an aspect of your life.
If you think this might be the case, take the time to sit down and write it out, or even speak to a professional about what is bothering you. Put together a plan and funnel your energy into finding you and making yourself happy. Being happy in yourself is a key way to avoid FOMO.
Understand You May Have a Lot on Yourself
Whether work has picked up, or you are going through a hard time personally, sometimes we can’t get out to enjoy the fun stuff with our friends, and then seeing them all having fun on social media makes you sadder. If this is the case for you, try turning off your socials (at least on the weekend) so you can concentrate on what you need to do, over what your friends are up to.
Remember Social Media Doesn’t Tell the Whole Truth
Another key thing to remember is that social media does not tell the whole truth. It is an edited version of someone’s life. It is what they want you to see. If you are feeling unhappy or if you’re stressed, social media will steal your attention and make you feel worse. Get in the habit of spending less time on it and understand that it does not tell the whole story.
Luke Mathers is a stress expert, businessman and author. He has collaborated with Ally Shorter, an 18-year-old who graduated from school in 2020 to create a book called RESET, Choose your Own Story.