The last 18 months have changed many of us in ways we would never have thought. We may find ourselves not wanting to join in social and group activities. We may not feel as sociable as we once did. This is not surprising after not being allowed to get together with family and friends for such a long time. This mild social anxiety may have permeated our psyche so that we now feel a little nervous and/or reluctant to attend social gatherings. We may experience a mix of feelings around meeting up with people which may include Fear of Missing Out (FOMO).
What Is Fear of Missing Out?
Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is the feeling we have when we’re unable to attend a social engagement because we don’t feel comfortable going or because we’ve already accepted another invitation. We may want to attend both activities for fear of missing something. This resonates especially now as the world begins to open up within the pandemic. Some of us have numerous invitations and diaries full of social dates, others are heading out for a staycation or even a holiday abroad. This can bring up powerful feelings for us.
Why has FOMO become such a thing?
Social media can intensify our FOMO. In our digital age, most of us have a smartphone or tablet nearby and often check it. Whilst we are busy doing one thing, we may log into a social media account and see others engaging in something else. Part of us may wish we could be doing that too or instead of what we are currently doing.
FOMO can affect us in many ways. It can invoke feelings of envy…. we want to be doing what others are doing or wish we could be involved in the alternative activity, in case it may be ‘better’ than what we are currently doing. We feel our life is less interesting, enjoyable or worthwhile compared to other lives we see.
FOMO can minimise the enjoyment we currently feel by distracting us from the quality of the time we are already having and evoke feelings of discontent and unease instead.
What can we do about FOMO?
The main antidote for FOMO is to practice being fully attentive in what we are doing. If we can live in the moment, be fully conscious of where we are, what we are doing and why we are doing it, we will appreciate our choices and our current situation far more and not feel caught up in comparisonitus.
How to manage FOMO
Being ‘in the moment’ is easier than it sounds. It can be difficult to concentrate on what we are doing and become fully engaged in whatever it is when there are so many distractions around. It takes practice and discipline, but a good start is to concentrate on ourselves and work out what fully engages us.
What makes us smile?
When do we feel alive and genuinely connected to ourselves and/or others?
What hobby or activity have we always wanted to do but haven’t tried?
What nurtures us?
Is it being outside? Snuggling with a book and our pet? Spending time with people who care about us?
Aim to spend some time every day doing something you love.
It is up to us to explore what makes us feel fully alive and prioritise space for it, no matter how small.
If we can appreciate the choices we make with our time, take responsibility for them and become more grateful for what we have, we automatically become less distracted by what we think we may be missing out on.