Here’s how to banish the fear of missing out, which can be exhausting and overwhelming, and embrace the joy of missing out to reconnect with life
The lockdown has pressed the reset button in many people’s lives. The stressors and pressures of daily life, including the never-ending rat race, the need to keep up with peers or please everyone, have come to a standstill. Maybe it’s time now to banish the fear of missing out (FOMO), which can be exhausting and overwhelming, and embrace the joy of missing out (JOMO). JOMO is choosing what one wants to do (or not do). One can disconnect from devices, reflect on life or reconnect with friends or family.
Social media is a major reason for experiencing FOMO, as one sees all the fun things their friends are doing, which can make one feel lacking. Another factor is loneliness and solitude, which is associated with a bunch of negative effects such as depression, suicide and even cardiovascular diseases. Anxiety (with nervous behaviour) is another cause. Bhavna Barmi, co-founder, Psycare (Neuropsychiatry Care Centre in Delhi), and senior clinical psychologist, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, Delhi, finds FOMO as the fear or excitement that social media users experience when they want to be part of a community or a moment that others shared. “It stems from the feeling of social alienation, loneliness or fear, which may be so severe that people may leave what they do to participate or experience a brief moment on social media. JOMO, on the other hand, helps us live life in the slow lane, enjoy human interactions and tech-free breaks, etc,” she says.
A big factor behind stress in current times is the pandemic, which has left multitudes fearful, as uncertainty has crept into our lives. For actor-turned-entrepreneur Pooja Bedi, founder, Happy Soul, a health- and wellness-focused lifestyle brand, positivity is very important. “Fear has a negative impact on our mind, body and soul, and serves no purpose. The single most important skill to develop in life is a positive set of eyes. I believe in empowering people to become the architects of their lives and encourage them to focus on their dreams and not their fears, as whatever we vibrate is what we attract. A wonderful tool is a vision board where you pin pictures, targets of what you want: a dream home, holiday, professional milestone, and place it by your bedside. Look at it for five minutes every night before sleeping and every morning as you wake up. Watch it, absorb it, feel it coming alive, manifest it. Thank circumstances for putting an abrupt halt to a series of meaningless experiences that consumed you and diverted time, energy and focus from what is actually important to shape life into one you’re excited and proud of,” she says.
FOMO is a new social disorder, feels author Neil D’Silva, who regrets “the countless shows and movies I wasted my hours on just because everyone was talking about them. Holiday plans, restaurant visits, electronic purchases, hashtags and trends followed. But sometimes you need to miss out on things to keep your mental sanity. The joy of missing out helps. Instead of regretting wasting money and time on unnecessary things, it is worth noting that in the longer run, true happiness is in discovering what you want to do and not succumbing to trends and fads,” he says.
When applied to work, FOMO can lead to burnout and chronic stress due to missing out on opportunities or career progression. It can be detrimental to mental health, negatively impacting self-esteem and leading to feelings of loneliness. “Workplace instills a sense of competition among colleagues. It is a place where everyone tries to be at the top and there’s no room for mistakes. In such an environment, it is natural that an employee is struck with FOMO.
One is persistently under the impression that with the disappearance of important work, their image will tarnish before the boss. So they not only drain their energy, but also waste a lot of time. The very first problem here lies in the fact that people are not aware of their FOMO. If realised, they are unaware of how to deal with it. So take a moment to understand your fears. The key element driving FOMO’s force can be characterised by the human habit of comparing oneself with others. To overcome such insecurities, one needs to delve into something that truly motivates them,” says Delhi-based Sumit Mittal, founder, VentAllOut, a vernacular mental wellness-promoting platform.
Agrees Bengaluru-based Mudit Dandwate, co-founder, Dozee, a proactive contactless health monitor device: “Use excess time to pursue hobbies, sharpen technical knowledge and skills or invest in health and overall well-being,” he says.