Beware if you are checking out your Facebook updates, tweets, Instagram in every 10-15 minutes and if you feel that you cannot live without the social media, chances are high that may be suffering from FOMO says Counsellor Shivani Misri Sadhoo (Delhi’s eminent psychologist & family counsellor). In other words, you might be suffering from a constant urge to be in touch with friends and happenings via smartphones.
FOMO or Fear of Missing out is a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent. FOMO is recognized as a kind of social anxiety which is characterized by "a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing" adds Counsellor Shivani.
FOMO in social media may sound harmless, but global experts suggest when a person experiences an overwhelming amount of activities seen on social networking sites and faces an inability to attend all of them or be a part of each event can lead to feelings of stress and depression.
The negative feelings of stress and depression from FOMO can be amplified when the constant stream of social media content shows so many other people having (or appear to be having) exciting experiences or reaching milestone accomplishments, especially if the person seeing them feels unable to keep up or compete with their own peers.
FOMO in social media today is slowly becoming very prevalent both amongst youngsters and adults that some mental health professionals have termed it an epidemic of a pervasive mental health syndrome for all ages. A 2013 survey by MyLife.com revealed 56% of people are afraid of missing out on events, news and important social network status updates, and that the percentage has continued to rise each year, particularly amongst millennials, who are spending increasingly more time online and are connected to social networks
So how to handle Fear of Missing out (FOMO) if you believe you or someone you know is suffering from it?
Psychologist Shivani Misri Sadhoo suggests people who suffer from FOMO to take the following steps:
1. Admit you have a problem.
Check if you can spend a day by just checking all your social media pages just twice or thrice a day. If you found yourself suffering from some degree of FOMO, then admit it and tell yourself “I cannot be everywhere at all times and always be doing the coolest thing ever. and that’s OK.
Admitting and accepting that you have anxiety can feel like your secret has been unleashed to the universe and the burden is off your shoulders. You’re acknowledging the insecurity, and with that recognition, you can now tackle the problem.
2. Switch off the chatter.
Switching off the chatter does not mean that you deactivate your social media profiles rather you check your social media habits by restricting the use. That is learning to limit the activity. One CBT (cognitive-behavioural therapy) technique prescribes setting aside a certain time of day to check all your social media pages to deal with FOMO. Except for early morning and before going to sleep, select any convenient one time of the day to check your Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc. Like, you may check the social pages every day while commuting by the public transport.
3. Practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one's attention to experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training. The term "mindfulness" is a translation of the Pali term sati, which is a significant element of Buddhist traditions. In Buddhist teachings, mindfulness is utilized to develop self-knowledge and wisdom.
One can practice mindfulness in day to day life by focusing on non-judgmental observation or awareness to present experience. In other words, try to be aware of your current activity, for example, if you are having differences with your family members, focus on how the food tastes, focus and show natural interest on what your family members talk to you about or to themselves while eating. Similarly, make a habit to be aware of every detail of whatever simple or mundane activity you do in your day to day life. Mindfulness can help those with major FOMO, enjoy what they are doing in the here and now, instead of yearning for what else could be done.