Stop the press, breaking news incoming. This is something big, and it may shock you. Are you ready? Hold on to your hats, here it comes: ‘You can’t do everything’. *Audible gasps*, *Sound of someone fainting*, *Child crying*, *A fire starts*.
If we could, we’d always be in the know. Always have the best weekend story. Always hang around A-list stars. Always look flawless, on fleek, constantly living our best life. And we’d always have everyone know how great things are going. But, and this is the hard part, we’re not always doing our best. Frankly, I’ve got rent to pay and my eyebrows needs a pluck.
The phenomena of FOMO isn’t new to our generation, really it’s just a different take on “the grass is always greener” complex. However, FOMO reflects an intensified comparison to others, fuelled by, none other than that old scapegoat, social media. Before we may have heard about a concert we missed, now we get notified with 20 videos of our friends meeting the band.
The emotion most associated with missing out is anxiety. A feeling that our lives don’t quite match up to what we see in others. This combined with expectations for our achievements and social lives, plus scrolling through some sparkling Instagram photos, and boom - that’s a lot of negative emotion to start your day.
Studies link levels of social media use with feelings of ‘missing out’. Whether we increase our use on these platforms when feeling anxious or they fuel the anxiety is not yet clear. However, what has been shown is that people who are more mindful (living in the moment), tend to experience FOMO less.
A new acronym has even started to take off: JOMO - Joy Of Missing Out. The empowered feeling from saying ‘no’ to a big night out, the freedom of leaving our phone in the other room or simply prioritising personal projects over trivial ones.
Below are some simple exercises you can incorporate the next time you begin to feel anxious after looking at shiny online pictures of boat parties and brunches:
Prioritise Your Time
You don’t get time back, so you need to be intentional with it. Think about what’s important to you: working on a passion project, or going clubbing again. Being present with loved ones, or scrolling through memes.
Instead of caving to FOMO, let passion direct your time. A simple method to help you establish what's important is to name your priorities. For instance, identifying graphics as an art you want to develop helps you see the value in ignoring what's on Twitter for an afternoon.
Studies directly link time management skills with levels of stress and anxiety, the more you can prioritise what matters to you, the more you can protect your mental wellbeing and avoid FOMO.
Follow Artists, Not influencers
Even through all the negatives, social media is still amazing. It gives everyday people a voice, keeps you updated with distant friends and drives social progress. But you shape what you see, and it’s up to you to decide what’s worthwhile viewing on a daily basis.
In the light of Marie Kondo, sometimes you need to remove what doesn’t give you joy. This applies in a digital space too. If you subscribe to something or someone who often makes you feel anxious, why follow them? Try to remove accounts that don’t bring value and replace them with ones that do. Make your feed for inspiration, not comparison.
Self-Care When Feeling Anxious
Often the hardest thing to do when faced with negative emotions is to spot them and take yourself out. Practising this and building new positive habits can help you rework how you deal with stress and anxiety. It can be as simple as swapping unnecessary activities with self-nourishing ones.
If you find yourself 45 minutes into a feed scroll and feeling anxious, stop and think about what would benefit you more: a bath/a call with a loved one/meditation OR more scrolling. Learning to manage emotional triggers and acting appropriately is a skill that can do wonders for your mental wellbeing.
Missing out (or the feeling of missing out) triggers insecurities we're often not aware of. The anxiety surrounding it is a response to how comfortable we are with our surroundings and achievements.
Comparing your progress to others is normal, yet with FOMO culture and its glamour and bravado, emotions are easily accentuated. So, taking the time to bring yourself down to earth is hugely beneficial.
If you are creating, you aren't missing anything.
Original Illustrations by Duane - @madamolio 🦎