FOMO Is a Real Issue, and It’s Hurting Our Health

With the rise of social media culture, a new form of mental anxiety has arisen—FOMO.

FOMO—anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website (Oxford Dictionary)  

If you are unfamiliar, FOMO is an acronym for “fear of missing out.” It is what happens when you are constantly checking your phone or computer, endless perusing social media streams, and are suddenly confronted with anxiety and a feeling of unworthiness. As over-saturated photos of smoothie bowls, sunsets, smiling faces, fit bodies and exotic locales stream past your gaze, a stream of shoulds might pop into your mind. You should be going on more trips, you should be exercising more, you should be eating more produce. Everyone else is doing cool things… why aren’t I? FOMO happens when all those “shoulds” begin to sink in and take root, paving the way for anxiety, depression and deep dissatisfaction.

But the simple perception that you are not doing everything you should be doing may actually harm your health more than you thought. A recent study out of Stanford has shown that those who perceive that they are not being active enough actually experience a reduction in both mental and physical health. In fact, the less active participants perceived themselves to be, the more likely they were to die during the follow-up. Yikes.

So does this mean that scrolling through an Instagram feed filled with fit, beautiful people working out in gorgeous landscapes is more harmful than inspirational? Possibly. While your mortality probably won’t be affected, the power of thought and mindset exerts a huge control over our overall health, and the negativity produced by FOMO is a growing problem, with an estimated 56 percent of social media users having experienced such (sometimes very serious) anxiety or depression at one time or another.

For those with a mild distress and social media dependency, here are a few ways to deal with nagging FOMO and feel good about your life choices:

Stop focusing on one moment and cherish experiences. If you have a bonfire on a beach at sunset, but you don’t take a picture to share on social media, did it actually happen? Of course it did, but not according to social media trends. There is a pressure to live many lavish and exciting moments simply so they can be shared on social media. In fact, if you are posting a picture immediately after it was taken, aren’t you tainting the essence of the very experience itself? Stop curating your life around Instagrammable moments. Yes, photography is fun, but cherish the journey. Tell stories face to face, and take pictures only when the moment is rich. Living for experiences creates depth, artistry, dimension and personal growth, while living for perfect moments only creates a desirable social media feed. Which sounds better to you?

Practice quality experiences instead of quantity. Don’t make a list of beautiful places and cool things you need to do based on your social media feeds. Follow your heart and your passions to do what truly interests you. Half-heartedly going on a hike so you look active in a selfie when, in reality, you really hate hiking, is not a quality experience. It is simply an experience you are trying to check off a list so that the virtual ‘you’ seems well-rounded and amazing. Immerse yourself in something you truly love. If it isn’t a photogenic activity, who cares? Don’t stress. Real experiences don’t get scrolled through a feed. They do that little job of informing and improving the evolving person you continue to become.

Accept that no one’s life is perfect. FOMO is rooted in the misconception that everyone else has their lives together while you do not. This is a fallacy. Perfect doesn’t exist. No one has ever achieved it. Stop measuring your life experiences against those displayed on social media. Instead, focus on building your own self-confidence from within rather than relying on ‘likes’ or comparisons to others.

Stop multitasking and live mindfully. FOMO can make you feel like you need to be doing a million things at once in order to keep up with the rest of the world. This is absolutely untrue. You do not need to spend every hour of every day doing something that is aesthetically pleasing to your overall image, aka doing something that is ”instagrammable”. If anything, slow down and practice one thing at a time, with mindfulness. By simply being authentic, you’ll live your perfect life.

Enjoy the moments you are immersed in. Stop letting FOMO contrast your own shortcomings and insecurities against the most beautiful parts of the social media stream. Practice radical self-love and work on improving your self-confidence. Know that you are worthy and interesting, and living a truly rich, fulfilling life takes work that comes from within. It simply cannot be curated like a mere social media page.

Related:
Have You Tried Tigernuts?
Can You Do Crossfit for Your Brain?
How to Become More Courageous

60 comments

Margie F
Margie FOURIEabout a month ago

I am from the old school. No chance of me suffering from FOMO

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Danuta W
Danuta W1 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Lisa M
Lisa M1 months ago

I definitely don't suffer from FOMO!!

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Anne G
Anne G1 months ago

What will they think up next?

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heather g
heather g1 months ago

We grow up....

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Tania N
Tania N1 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Janet B
Janet B1 months ago

Thanks

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Sandra V
Sandra Vito1 months ago

Thanks

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Peggy B
Peggy B1 months ago

This site is the only one I get obsessive about. ;-p

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Jeramie D
Jeramie D1 months ago

What?

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