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How to Deal With the Fear of Missing Out

FOMO = FEAR of missing out. You most likely already knew that! 

I am not much for acronyms. By the time I figure them out and what they stand for, they are already a few years old and often no longer relevant.  FOMO got my attention and it stuck with me from the get go mostly because I hear it, in one form or another everyday, from my clients. No one really goes around admitting one suffers from a serious case of FOMO – but if you listen carefully, it is present, sometimes subtle but most often surprisingly loud and clear.

FOMO Has Been Around for a Long Time

The acronym may be fairly new but the concept is not. In pre-modern days, being ‘in the know’ and on top of ‘where the action is’ was actually necessary for survival.  Knowing where to gather and hunt was crucial and very much a necessary part of daily living. Over the years as our way of life evolved, needs evolved and the fear of missing out transitioned and took on a formula known to many as “Keeping up with the Jones,” also known as; “Keeping up with your neighbours.” Today, in our very modern world, the same psychological and physiological stress of survival takes on a new name: FOMO – fear of missing out with it’s main entry point being the digital era we live in. 

Screen Time Plays a Role in FOMO

The speed at which our communication platforms in the digital world have exploded is impressive and mind-boggling. As much as this ‘new normal’ adds enormous benefits to our communication needs in many spheres of our lives, it inevitably also has a negative impact. 

This overwhelming exposure running the gamut from information overload, speed of new technology, gaming, social hubs, online shopping, global news events, YouTube channels on anything and everything,  and I’ll skip quite a few: provide a constant stimulus to the fear of missing out. Recent studies are surfacing explaining measurable symptoms and the impact FOMO has on individuals. From sleep deprivation, debt increasing, work absenteeism, relationship breakdown and an increase in different types of anxiety.

Mostly it is affecting the younger age groups and these are ill prepared to manage the impact it has which in turn causes the stress meter to climb and literally assault one’s well-being.  Mostly, it assaults our self-esteem, genuine and healthy communication and our effective use of time. How many ‘notification bells’ can one live with? 

So at its core, FOMO has the not so subtle power to have you believe you are missing out. Missing out on “out of this world” social outings, missing out on career advancement, missing out on crazy adventures, missing out on the online sale of the year, missing out on fill in the blank ____, you’ve got the idea.

In order to debunk this pervasive phenomenon and take back control of your life I propose these 4 doable steps. 

Actionable Steps To Help You Deal with FOMO

Identify the culprit patterns

Acknowledge your own patterns of behavior that feed your FOMO meter.

It’s time for some serious scrutiny. Be honest. What is your most pervading patterns that need your attention? Name them in order of severity – most to least. Assess the impact these patterns have on your wellbeing, your lifestyle, those dear to you and the activities/choices you know you would really rather be attending too. 

Draft an action plan to reduce and replace the undesirable patterns. Start small and keep at it. Sustained small growth is often longer lasting than big all or nothing approach.

related article: Small Changes go a long way

Monitor and log the drain damage

This step carries an impressive motivating component.  Grab a notebook and for one week monitor your culprit patterns. How long are you on Facebook, shopping on line and deleting the basket after 2 hours, researching something that really will not contribute positively to your quality of life or help the goals you have set?  Keeping a log for several days will provide you with clear data that can serve as an incentive to use your time more effectively. 

Create a toolbox of better choices

In order to not gravitate to the unhealthy patterns which feeds FOMO you must be ready with possible better choices. Not choices that stir guilt – as in “I should be doing this” but rather “I want to be doing this.” This is where the toolbox comes in. Examine what makes you happy and brings you a sense of contentment. Make a list and plan to have what is needed within your reach so you can easily jump out of ‘the draining FOMO patterns’ to something you have the power to choose and is more satisfying to your emotional and physical health. These tools can also have the power to reduce anxiety exacerbated by FOMO.

Choose tools that will assist you in focusing on small and bigger goals you already have percolating. As you say NO to the ‘draining FOMO patterns’ and say YES to time spent on your choices, you will see an increase in personal satisfaction. 


This five-letter word is a gem. It goes without saying you will have moments where you get derailed and you find yourself back to your old patterns. NO worries – time to reset. Reset simply means go back to what is important to you: your goals, your preferred lifestyle, intentional relationships – you get to choose. When you know what matters to you then you already have a winning edge and you are more equipped to reset. No guilt allowed -no defeating internal monologue –Simply RESET.

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Nicole Lafrance

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