Mental Health Moments: Alleviating FOMO

By Kaylin R. Staten

All of us have days in which our FOMO is seemingly out of control. We scroll through our Instagram feeds, only to find the perfectly curated highlight reels of celebrities, influencers and even our friends. We long to be on that same beach with the beautiful views of the sunset and a cold drink in our hands.

FOMO, or the Fear of Missing Out, isn’t a new concept, but its presence has been heightened as social media continues to engross our daily lives. It’s the anxiety you feel when you’re missing out on something, whether it’s a party you willingly chose to not attend or the envy you feel when someone goes on that exotic vacation you’ve daydreamed about for years.

People with every personality type feel it throughout their day, and it can elevate levels of stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. It doesn’t matter if you saw it on Instagram or your co-worker talked to another co-worker at the cubicle next to you. If you feel like you’ve missed out on something, even if it’s something you didn’t necessarily want to do, then you’re likely to feel left out in some capacity.

I’m a natural introvert. I’ve made that known on several occasions, and I have gone great lengths to still be myself but also escape the confines of my comfort zone. Throughout my life, my shy nature prevented me from asking my parents if I could attend a classmate’s party, getting up enough nerve to ask a crush to a school dance, do anything except coursework during my college days -- and the list goes on and on. I would be lying if I said that missing out on social activities didn’t cause levels of FOMO. As a perfectionist, my “duty” was to be the most perfect version of myself, which meant to only engage in activities that increased my motivation and productivity inputs and outputs.

As I have gotten older, I’ve realized the following: LIFE CAN’T BE LIVED THAT WAY! So, how have I kicked FOMO to the curb? Well, I haven’t entirely. I am only human, and FOMO occurs in my life on a daily basis. Usually, I can push it to the side, but sometimes, I get caught up in it. Here’s how I manage FOMO in my personal and professional life:

Find your own work-life balance.

To minimize FOMO, stop acting like you have to work all of the time and actually take some time for yourself and your life. Work-life balance looks different to everyone, but your work shouldn’t take up 95 percent of your time. Actually attend that family get-together or meet a friend for dinner after work. Not only does it help you recharge, but it reduces FOMO because you’re having fun, too. Take action instead of sitting there wishing for more moments that do not induce FOMO.

Unfollow anyone on social media who does not inspire you to be your best self.

You may want to establish social ties on your social media accounts, but there will be times your followers or friends on your friends list cause FOMO. It’s completely fine AND normal to unfollow anyone who does not add anything but negative energy to your life. Of course, you can’t do this with everyone, but if a celebrity posts way too many vacation selfies or something offensive to you, just click that unfollow button. You want your social media feeds to be positive and reflect who you are. You could also avoid people or organizations entirely, too. If you feel the need to still be friends with someone, for instance, then remain friends but hide their posts on your Facebook newsfeed.

Realize your own FOMO-able moments.

OK, so chances are, YOU have some pretty awesome FOMO-able moments yourself. No matter what you put out there on social media, I’m relatively certain that someone is looking at your feed and thinking, “I wish I could have that.” It could be that you have your dream job or an enviable piece of cheesecake #foodporn from a local restaurant. Just think: there are others who are in a massive search of their dream job (or even their own mission in life) and those who can’t afford the dessert you’re eating or don’t have enough gas money to spare to get to the restaurant in the first place. It’s all about perspective. Make a list of the positive aspects you have experienced, from goals met and places traveled to lessons learned and your blessings. It’s an immediate pick-me-up when you realize that your silver linings are actually some of your best anti-FOMO methods.

Get it out of your system.

Internalizing everything can be damaging to you and your relationships. So, if you’re experiencing a bout of FOMO, let someone know about it! It could be your S.O., best friend, sibling, parent, therapist, whomever you trust. It could leave your thoughts as soon as you get it out in the open. If you don’t want to talk about it with another person, then write down your thoughts. You may go back later and be like, “Why did I even care about this?”, but it’s soothing to put pen to paper. Try your best to not judge yourself as you speak or write. Just feel as you feel in the moment. The important thing is to find your safe space.

Please note: These blog posts are not clinical, although we will provide symptoms and other information. These posts are based on my experiences with anxiety and mental health in general.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit a website like Mental Health America to learn more.

Mental Health Moments blog posts are every other Tuesday of the month. Our CEO and contributors highlight what it's like to live with a mental health disorder and continue to fight the stigma through storytelling

kaylin headshot - blog 200x200.png

Kaylin R. Staten, APR, is an award-winning public relations practitioner and writer based in Huntington, WV with nearly 16 years of professional communications experience. As CEO and founder of Hourglass Media, she uses her compassionate spirit and expertise to delve into the heart of clients’ stories. She is a recovering perfectionist, mental health advocate, wife, cat mom and Leia Organa aficionado. Connect with Kaylin on LinkedIn.