by Andrea M. Darcy
FOMO is now the subject of psychological studies. Why?
Because urban dictionary definition aside, the results of FOMO are real and include high levels of stress, anxiety, and even depression.
So what can you do if you have “FOMO syndrome”?
6 Ways to fight the FOMO
FOMO is connected to low self-esteem, identity issues, and even childhood trauma (read all about this in our connected article, “Is Fear of Missing Out Overrated?”.)
With such heavy credentials, you can’t stop FOMO overnight. But use the below tactics to start the shift from constantly worrying you are missing out, to being happy in the here and now.
[Had it with being a slave to FOMO, and need help now? Book an affordable online therapist today, be talking as soon as tomorrow.]
1. Work on your self identity.
FOMO is actually normal when we are a teenager. It’s the development stage when we are forming our sense of self — deciding what our personal values are, and what we want our life to look like.
And there is nothing wrong with being an extrovert with changing interests who likes to be out there experiencing new things.
But if you are well into your late twenties or thirties, frantically rushing from one event to the next no matter how tired you are, and stalking others you admire on social media to make sure you are ‘in the know’? It’s time to ask yourself if your constant patching together of an ‘approved’ exterior is actually a way of compensating for your lack of interior development.
Sometimes it is simply neglectful or manipulative parenting that leaves us in a constant identity free fall as an adult. If you had to be ‘good’ and ‘happy’ to receive love as a child, you would have quickly learned to hide any other parts of yourself that were ‘unacceptable’. This false self becomes all that you know.
Invest in learning about personal values and what yours actually are. And practice listening to your thoughts and feelings instead of brushing them aside. Useful tools here include journaling, mindfulness, and working with a counsellor.
2. Find new friends.
FOMO can be a big red flag that you don’t have healthy relationships and friendships.
If you fear that not being somewhere will leave you excluded, or that people will talk about you behind your back, then perhaps it’s time to look at what sorts of friends you’ve chosen and why.
Solid friendships don’t falter if you miss a night out. And healthy romantic relationships don’t suffer from time apart but often instead grow stronger.
3. Learn what connection even is.
Of course if you don’t actually know what proper connection is then you won’t know how to choose better friendships.
Connection involves being around others with whom you can comfortably be yourself, and whose behaviour, beliefs and values you can accept. Read our articles on “Connecting With People – Why You Find it Hard” and “Authentic Relationships“.
Think connection sounds hokey, or can’t be such a big deal?
Research at the University of Nottingham found that FOMO is often the result of ‘a deficit in psychological need, such as social connection.” And the researchers concluded that, “For this reason, living a socially fulfilling life where psychological needs toward social connections can be met may also help overcome anxiety associated with FOMO.”
4. Address your intimacy issues.
Read about connection, but there’s just no way you are going there? You might have a fear of intimacy. Keeping so busy you have no time to feel is a major sign, as is having many friends but few close ones. Read more in our article “7 Surprising Reasons You Fear Intimacy“.
5. Try self-compassion.
Fear of missing out is often connected to low self-worth. We think that if we are at the right places with the right people, then we will have value. But self-esteem is an inside job.
That said, ‘love yourself‘ might sound great on paper, but can be more than challenging in practise.
Enter the self-compassion movement.We all have people we are kind to, whether it’s a friend, niece or nephew, or our own child.
What would happen if you started talking to yourself the same way you talked to friends? Applied the standards you had for them to yourself?
Try it right now. Write a letter to that person about how you feel about them then read it aloud, but change the name to your own.
Here’s what research shows – self-compassion, the art of being nice to yourself, raises your self-esteem with far less effort.
6. Get mindful.
FOMO exists in the past (what we missed) and the future (What we might miss). The one place it isn’t is the present moment.
Mindfulness is an amazingly easy technique that pulls your right into the here and now. With practice and consistency it also lowers anxiety and stress and helps you focus. Use our free “Guide to Mindfulness” or try a mindfulness app.
7. Learn balanced thinking.
FOMO consists of extreme, black-and-white thinking. Training your brain to think grey has been shown by cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to stop anxiety and depression. And we’ve made you a mini guide that takes what a CBT therapist would teach you and helps you use it by yourself – go read our article on ‘How Balanced Thinking Works‘.
And of course, this always works well….
Try therapy. A counsellor or psychotherapist creates a safe, non judgmental space for you to get honest about how you really feel about yourself and your life. You can then start to recognise the ways you can move forward and feel more confident.
Ready to stop chasing approval and start being yourself? Harley Therapy puts you in touch with top London therapists in comfortable central offices. Not in London or the UK? Our booking site connects you to online therapists ready to listen no matter where you live in the world.