"FOMO," or fear of missing out, is a popular acronym for the very real sensation of feeling and fearing that you are missing out on life compared to others. Coined in the year 2000, FOMO is a more recently recognized form of social anxiety that stems from the belief that others may be having more fun than you. In layman's terms, it means not wanting to miss out on any opportunity to have fun with others. Having just spent months in self-isolation and lockdowns before the recent reopening of the majority of businesses, entertainment centers, beaches and parks, it is a confusing time, to say the least about what we can and cannot safely do – and so for many, FOMO, as a result of witnessing others' reckless behaviors, maybe on the horizon.
While Turkey and many other countries have opened up, for the most part, the contagiousness – and for some, the severity – of the effects of COVID-19 have not necessarily changed. Thus, we need to be even more diligent in acting cautionary and conservative in our efforts to relatively "return to normal." This means continuing to protect ourselves and others from spreading the virus and making wise and responsible decisions about when and how to safely leave the confines of our homes.
When we were on lockdown, for many, FOMO had all but disappeared as we hunkered down safe in the knowledge that pretty much everyone was doing the same. Yet now, in the heart of the summer season and as people are going on hard-earned vacations, FOMO has once again reared its ugly head. Yet, nothing about the virus has necessarily changed. We still need to social distance and self-isolate as much as possible to prevent the virus from further spreading. Thus, it might be time to embrace several methods to handle and alleviate feelings of FOMO and missing out on life, as we live through a pandemic.
1) FOMO is actually caused by sadness and feeling unsatisfied in your own life. Therefore, one of the best ways to deal with sadness is to refocus your attention on all of the things you appreciate. In other words, practice gratitude. If you can read this article, then you are already one of the luckier ones in the world and so whether you choose to list why you are grateful in a journal or just internalize all of the many reasons to feel fortunate, I can guarantee you will feel a bit better about being safe in order to protect what is on your gratitude list.
2) Avoid social media as much as possible. If you are feeling down and lonely, Facebook, Instagram and other social media outlets don’t necessarily offer the true company or companionship we are seeking in isolation. Instead, they paint the perfect picture of socializing and friendship, which can be warped. It could be argued that social media is what actually caused FOMO to begin with and being psychologically dependent on virtual social networks has been known to result in anxiety, which along with FOMO can negatively influence psychological health and well-being, which could be detrimental in days like these. Furthermore, according to surveys, the average time spent on social media per day is nearly an hour-and-half, which means that even just within a month’s time; we will have spent nearly two entire days watching devices that depict other people’s lives, while not living our own to the fullest.
3) Spend your time wisely. Be mindful of what you want in life and craft a plan to try to achieve that. Making decisions can be surprisingly rewarding. Remember that the target is not necessarily the goal, as you will actually begin to feel better the very moment you start taking action towards fulfilling your intentions. The journey can be just as exciting and fulfilling as the arrival, you just need to chart your own map and personalize your plan for what you want in life, and you will feel better when you begin to achieve it. Rather than feeling like you are missing out on life, you will feel like you are, in fact, creating yours.
4) Create your own happiness. If you don’t know what makes you intrinsically happy, then there is no better time to figure that out. The self-determination theory shows that our motivation and satisfaction as people is based on competence, autonomy and relatedness, which in relative terms means our positive impact on the world, on ourselves and others. FOMO is the result of having a low level of satisfaction in these areas and thus in life in general. So, what you can do is discover what makes you happy, what does good for the world and others and try to focus only on that and let that be your motivation, which will inevitably lead to happiness. Enjoy the moment, the journey and the potential future you could be creating.
5) Choose your loved ones. One of the positive outcomes of the pandemic is that many of us have had the opportunity to reflect on our relationships with those we love as we sought out alternative ways to socially connect. We didn’t waste time seeking out those that didn’t matter to us as much when we were confined and hence, why would we do so now? We didn’t want to risk our lives when it wasn’t warranted, but isn’t every moment that passes a part of our lives? So, why waste it? Whether we socialize online or through social media we should be doing so with those who truly matter. Not only will this alleviate the fear of missing out, because we will already be with those we love, but it will also beat the other phenomenon of FOBO, which is short for the "fear of a better option." We should be living our ultimate lives and with those, we truly love and thus there would be no better options.
There is also the acronym YOLO, or "you only live once," and it is a sentiment we must embrace now more than ever in light of potential health threats, meaning we must choose to make our lives the best ever now, because, every moment matters and no matter what, life is way too short to experience FOMO!