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Mental Health

Expert Advice: How Do I Avoid the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)?

Ditch comparisons and savor the bliss of the moment.

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You’ve probably seen or heard the acronym FOMO, an abbreviation for the phrase “fear of missing out.” The ubiquity of this phrase proves how normal it is to feel like other people are enjoying life more than you are. But that’s not necessarily true — and there are plenty of methods you can adopt to combat this fear and quit worrying so much about what everyone else is doing. With insight from experts, here are six ways to ditch comparisons and savor the bliss of the moment.

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Meet our panel

  • Patrick J. McGinnis, author of The 10% Entrepreneur, hosts the hit podcast FOMO Sapiens, where leaders discuss how they overcame FOMO.
  • Hilary Jacobs Hendel, LCSW, author of It’s Not Always Depression, helps people ease anxiety and depression. More here.
  • June P. Tangney, PhD, a clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at George Mason University, studies “moral emotions” such as guilt and empathy.

Outsmart this trigger

While scrolling on your friend’s Facebook page, you see her splashy vacation photos and feel a twinge of envy known as FOMO. “It’s a feeling generated by an over-idealization of the fun we believe others are having, triggered most commonly by unrealistic social media images,” explains expert Patrick McGinnis. “It essentially makes us worry that our lives are lacking, which leads to discontent.”

McGinnis says one thing that helped him is moving social media apps off his phone’s home screen and into folders to make them harder to access. “Stepping back from these ‘triggers’ lets you question what you’re seeing — the perception that everyone is having a great time is actually a deception, and knowing this gives you perspective.”

Make room for sadness

Rather than ignore negative emotions, allow yourself to feel sad, advises expert Hilary Jacobs Hendel, revealing she recently faced her own FOMO when members of her family attended a get-together she wasn’t invited to. “Didn’t they think about me? Am I boring or invisible?” she recalls asking herself. “In moments like this, say to yourself, ‘My sadness matters.’ We all deserve self-compassion so we can move forward.”

Savor the moment

“Mindfulness helps us break free of the racing, ‘monkey mind’ thoughts that drive FOMO, and instead, lets us tap the ‘monk mind,’ with the serenity of the present,” says McGinnis. Whether you stroll on the cool grass or savor your morning coffee, take 10 minutes a day to relax.

See the bright side

FOMO isn’t always a bad thing and can even help inspire us, assures expert June P. Tangney, PhD. “For example, I have a friend who just met a great guy, and it ultimately made me hopeful that it is possible to meet someone,” she reveals. “FOMO often stems from the perception that if something good happens to someone else, there are fewer opportunities for the rest of us — but there is enough for everyone and seeing someone else’s path toward joy can inspire us to find our own.”

Flip the script to JOMO

The opposite of the fear of missing out is the joy of missing out (JOMO). Simply look back on times when you were content to skip what others were doing. “Happiness isn’t one-size-fits-all,” says McGinnis, explaining that the moment we stop comparing ourselves is the moment we free ourselves from envy.

Expand your gratitude

When we’re able to relish the little things, from cuddling our pet to laughing with a friend, we don’t feel FOMO because our life is already full. “And the most effective way to reap the benefits of gratitude is by sharing what we’re thankful for once a week,” says Tangney. Doing so brings us closer to others because the more we reveal about ourselves, the more that people like us. “It makes us feel fulfilled that we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be, enjoying the small moments that add up to a big life.”

This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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