FOMO: 4 Steps to Minimize the Fear of Missing Out - Dr. Axe

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Are You Fighting FOMO? 4 Steps to Minimize the Fear of Missing Out


FOMO - Dr. Axe

You’ve settled on the couch with a glass of wine, a yummy snack and the latest Netflix flick. You’re pumped to start a new binge-worthy series with your significant other. But before hitting the play button, you decide to do a quick scan of your social networks. Twenty minutes and too much time stalking Facebook, Instagram and Twitter later thanks to your smartphone addiction — aka nomophobia — and you’re suddenly doubting not just tonight’s choices, but everything leading up to this point. If you had chosen a different job, would you have been invited to that party your friend posted a photo of? How is it that the young actress you follow on Instagram is half your age but already so much more accomplished? Should you even be watching this TV show — everyone on Twitter is abuzz about that other new show. You have FOMO — fear of missing out.

What Is FOMO?

Technology is designed to help us feel more connected to one another. All these social networks and ways to keep in touch are supposed to help us build and maintain relationships. You can reconnect with old high school friends or share photos with your grandmother who lives 2,000 miles away.

But with all the apps and connectedness come the inevitable comparisons to other people, as well as the fear that, by choosing one thing, we might be missing out on something else, something better. That’s where FOMO comes into play. What is FOMO?  It’s a common phrase used today, and it’s a phenomenon that only seems to be getting worse as time goes on.

What does the abbreviation FOMO mean? The FOMO acronym stands for “fear of missing out.” Another FOMO definition: fear of not being included in something (such as an interesting or enjoyable activity) that others are experiencing.

The Urban dictionary has another similar FOMO meaning: a form of social anxiety — a compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity or satisfying event, often aroused by posts seen on social media websites. If you’re wondering how to use FOMO in a sentence: “If I don’t get a ticket to that concert all of my good friends are going to next weekend, I’m going to have some major FOMO.”


Envy is a perfect example of a FOMO synonym. Until recently, feeling envious was a common way of describing modern-day FOMO. An envious definition: wishing you had what another person has, which can be a possession, an experience, etc.

How FOMO Forms

FOMO, or fear of missing out, isn’t necessarily a 21st-century problem. After all, hearing about a friend buying his first house over dinner while you were still living with roommates might have given you a pang of uncertainty or jealousy 15 years ago. But today, everything is magnified thanks to social media — now avenues of comparison (images included) are constantly in your face. Enter FOMO.

Plus, apps are designed to reward us when we share pieces of our lives. After all, these are businesses that want to keep you coming back for more. We’re given instant gratification when we post something and it gets 20 likes, much like we can get depressed if no one “hearts” our latest Instagram photos. And if no one liked it, did it really happen?

But it’s not just wondering what other people think of your experiences and choices that you post on social media. FOMO forms when you begin to compare yourself and your experiences to others and start to actually become scared that you are missing out on something.

Face Your FOMO

You may find the latest FOMO meme hilarious, but is it possible that this left-out synonym is affecting you more than you think?

To have your FOMO social media-induced is the most common experience these days. We already know from research studies that too much time on social media can negatively impact our mental health in major ways. If you’re spending too much time on social media, it’s a good time to address this problem and face your FOMO.

Facing a possible addiction to social media or admitting that social media and the resulting FOMO negatively impacts your life is the first step to getting past the negative feelings associated with a fear of missing out.

So how do you overcome FOMO? One way is by choosing JOMO. What is FOMO and JOMO? Well, you already now what the FOMO abbreviation stands for, so what is JOMO? JOMO is the opposite of FOMO. It stands for “joy of missing out.”

Yes, it’s actually possible to enjoy not doing what other people are doing and simply live your life without comparison (especially via social media) to anyone else — whether that be a friend, a family member, a total stranger or a celebrity. More and more, people are realizing that there is a true joy that can come from not caring what other people are doing, not feeling envious and not being afraid that they’re missing out on anything.

Research on FOMO

Often used jokingly, FOMO can actually have some serious repercussions. One Australian study found that one in two teens in the country feels like he or she is “missing out” on the perfect lives friends seem to be having via social media. Teens with heavy social media usage were also likelier to be more anxious and depressed than their smartphone-free peers.

Adults aren’t immune, of course. Those with FOMO feel less competent and — irony of ironies — less connected than those without. In addition, a 2013 report found that 56 percent of social media users suffer from FOMO. Further, according to a 2014 survey from self-service ticketing platform Eventbrite, 69 percent of millennials “experience FOMO when they can’t attend something that their family or friends are going to.”

A 2018 study published in the journal Motivation and Emotion highlights the effects of FOMO on college freshmen. According to this research, “More frequent experiences of FOMO were associated with negative outcomes both daily and over the course of the semester, including increasing negative affect, fatigue, stress, physical symptoms, and decreased sleep.”

What does FOMO stand for? It may represent debt, especially for millennials. A Credit Karma/Qualtrics study of 1,045 consumers in the United States finds that almost 40 percent of millennials have spent money they did not have and have gone into debt just so they can keep up with their peers.

Is it any wonder that FOMO is a problem when we’re inundated with information and data at a speed never before seen in human history? Yet, there is no reason you have to let FOMO control your life.

How to Overcome FOMO

It’s important to know how to deal with FOMO so it doesn’t negatively affect your life. Of course, you may still occasionally doubt your choices or get a little jealous when friends meet up without you. However, there are ways to minimize the damage and ensure your time on social media leaves you feeling good, not down in the dumps.


Step 1: Accept Your Status

It’s OK — in fact, it’s encouraged! — to admit that you feel like you might be missing the next awesome thing. It’s kind of a relief to say that aloud, isn’t it? You might find your mindset changes if you chant that to yourself while scrolling through your news feeds.

Step 2: Realize You’re Looking at the Greatest Hits

The same way you (hopefully) refrain from alerting the Twitterverse that you’re currently in a family feud, realize too that everyone else only shares his or her biggest hits as well. It’s easy to show off your best self online and glaze over everything else. Remember that just like you posted that ocean photo without showing the flat tire your car got en route to the beach, everyone else plays the same game.

It’s also good to remember that it’s extremely easy to manipulate “reality.” In fact, one student convinced her family and friends that she was on a trip to Asia without ever leaving her bedroom, through a few tricks.

Step 3: Disconnect

Not only might you be suffering from nomophobia, or smartphone addiction, but chances are you’re receiving way too many notifications that serve no purpose other than to alert you of someone else’s life event.

Go ahead and turn off notifications for your social apps — yes, even those that alert you to “likes.” Use a browser add-on to limit your time on FOMO-inducing sites. And if there is a person in particular who sets your FOMO on fire, don’t be afraid to unfollow that person to save your sanity.

Step 4: Live in the Present

Use your time wisely. Make a list of all the things you wish you had time for: learning a new language, finally reading the book club selection, volunteering. Now, for the next week, document every minute you spend on stalking social media. That’s all time you can never get back! By wasting these precious moments keeping tab on everyone else, you’re missing the opportunity to create and enjoy your present.

So get out there and start living your life, and while you’re at it, practice some JOMO.


The emotion at the root of FOMO is fear. What is fear? It’s an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat. The FOMO abbreviation may seem fun and lighthearted at times, but for some, it actually becomes very serious and contributes to anxiety and depression.

If you think that you or a loved one is experiencing depression and/or anxiety, it’s important to seek help and find out how to get over depression and anxiety. Resources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer information and guidance.

It’s very important that if you or someone you know is having thoughts about hurting himself or herself or committing suicide‚ always seek immediate help. You can call 1−800−273−TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center or dial 911. 1−800−273−TALK is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which provides free‚ confidential help to people in crisis

Final Thoughts

  • What does FOMO mean? FOMO means “fear of missing out” while JOMO means “joy of missing out.”
  • One in two teens in Australia feels like he or she is “missing out” on the perfect lives friends seem to be having via social media.
  • 56 percent of social media users suffer from FOMO.
  • 69 percent of millennials “experience FOMO when they can’t attend something that their family or friends are going to.”
  • Studies show that the fear of missing out can make some miss out on sleep while increasing stress.
  • You can minimize FOMO by accepting your status, realizing you’re looking at the greatest hits on social media, disconnecting and living in the present.

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