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Simple Steps to Getting Over FOMO

Does the saying “the grass is always greener” strike a cord? If so, you aren’t alone. The fear of missing out, commonly known as FOMO, affects almost 75 percent of all young adults. The acronym, which is officially included in the Oxford Dictionary, describes the anxiety or worry that an exciting activity may be happening elsewhere. Without you. Sound familiar? 

It’s a no-brainer that we can’t be everywhere at once. But it still doesn’t prevent us from feeling left out of (real or perceived) activities that are more interesting, cool, unique, fashionable, fun, (you fill in the blank) than the ones we’ve chosen. It can be exhausting. But letting FOMO get the best of us can also be destructive.

Research shows that FOMO negatively affects us emotionally, physically, and cognitively. It leads to depressive feelings, reduces personal motivation, hinders face-to-face relationships, makes us sluggish, puts us in a bad mood, and reduces our overall satisfaction with life. Yuck.  So how do we shed FOMO?

Establish Boundaries

Social media is a major culprit in our struggles with FOMO. Scrolling the carefully crafted posts and too-perfect vacation pictures on our news feeds can leave us feeling that we’re not doing enough. And when we develop a fear of missing out, it drives us right back to social media so we don’t feel out of the loop. To reduce FOMO, we need to cut the cycle.

First, recognize that spending time on social media increases FOMO. Then, take serious steps to reduce your screen time. If you’re not willing to cut social media out completely, set a specific time of the day when you check your device. Period.  

Set Goals

Sometimes the fear of missing out causes us to do as much as possible at once. But when we try to tackle too much, we typically aren’t very successful at anything. Think about what you really want to accomplish—in your professional life, relationships, hobbies, or otherwise. Then, write down your goals. Since you don’t have time to pursue every opportunity available, having clear goals will give you direction and help you say “no” when necessary.  

Pay Attention

One major pitfall of FOMO is that it takes your focus away from your current situation or activity. It saps appreciation and enjoyment of current life experiences. When your heart rate increases over what you might be missing, slow down and pay attention to the present moment. Be mindful of what you are doing, however mundane it may seem. Being aware and grateful for your current circumstance can ease other fears and help you live in the moment.    

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