Stress and Anxiety

Curing FOMO: How to fix your fear of missing out

Imagine you’re trying to stick to a reasonable budget to take a big trip this summer. You hear friends are going out for a pricey dinner, but you’re totally exhausted from a long week, and your Mint money-tracking app shows you’re already over your spending plan. 

A few hours ago, you were happy to get cozy and relax at home; now you find yourself facing FOMO (fear of missing out).  If you decide to stay home, you know you’ll feel like a loser as soon as you check Instagram and find the rest of your friends posting fun photos.  

You are not alone. When you log on to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, you’re privy to tons of information about what you may be missing at any moment.  And FOMO – worries about missing social opportunities – seems to leave many of us with a sense of uncertainty, loss and loneliness.  

Focusing on what your 491 “friends” are doing is a recipe for missing out on the enjoyment you can derive from what you are doing, even if you’re just relaxing at home with a great book.  A night at home can feel satisfying; going out because you’re afraid to miss something surely won’t lead to long-term happiness.  

3 Steps to Fix FOMO

1. Consider: There is usually no best or worst way to spend your time.  Most decisions have pros and cons.  Also, no event or emotion lasts forever---we tend to forget that when we’re worrying or rushing around trying to keep up with others.

2. Realize: People truly in the middle of the #bestnightever probably wouldn't be preoccupied with constantly updating their social media status. And pictures are so deceiving--- especially with all the brilliant ways technology lets us enhance them.

3. Keep your head where your feet are: Stop checking what everyone else is doing.  If you realize social networking apps are preventing you from living in the moment and feeling happy where you are, think about removing them from your phone for a couple weeks.  When you worry about missing out, you miss out on what matters most: your life.

Jennifer Taitz  is a licensed clinical psychologist based in New York City. She is the author of End Emotional Eating: Using Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills to Cope with Difficult Emotions and Develop Healthy Relationship to Food. Visit her website or find her on Facebook and Twitter to learn more.