What is Fear of Missing Out Phobia (FOMO) & How to Overcome It?

Table of Contents

Last Updated: June 2024

Do you find yourself picking up your phone every other minute to check for updates or to respond to every notification? If yes, you may have the fear of missing out (FOMO).

While it’s exciting to know that your friends are attending a party or vacationing in a beautiful location, it can also increase your anxiety about missing out, affecting your valuable time and mental health.

The truth is that FOMO is a very real and common feeling that affects people of all ages. According to research, 56% of people are afraid of missing out on events, news, and other important status updates if they are away from social networks.

Are you afraid of missing out? In this post, we will help you know:

What is Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)?

The concept of “Fear of Missing Out” or FOMO was coined in 1996 by marketing strategist Dan Herman. The phrase “fear of missing out” refers to the feeling of “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event is currently taking place somewhere else.”

FOMO isn’t limited to social media, but it is exacerbated by it.

Consider this: Suppose you’re staying in on a weekend, but when you scroll through social media while sitting at home, it appears that everyone you know is out having fun. You might feel like you’re missing out on something.

Although FOMO is a common emotion, it has a number of negative consequences, including increased negativity, fatigue, stress, physical symptoms, and decreased sleep.

What are the Symptoms of Fear of Missing Out?

These are some common symptoms that can help you know if you have FOMO:

– You spend a lot of time thinking

Overthinking is one of the key symptoms of FOMO.

Do you think too much before making a decision? Do you often find yourself wondering what your peers are doing, making you feel as if you’re missing out?

If yes, you most likely have FOMO.

– Not knowing when to say “NO”

The main symptom of FOMO is a constant desire to participate in as many activities as possible throughout the day because you are afraid of missing out.

Saying yes to everything all of the time can leave you overworked, exhausted, and stressed.

– Trying to be perfect

Do you constantly feel the need to look perfect in order to be socially accepted?

We all want to do our best, but trying to be perfect and having unrealistic expectations can lead to poor decisions and negatively impact our health.

– Excess social media use

Excess social media can often perpetuate the fear of missing out.

If you get anxious when you’re away from your device or when you don’t have access to the internet, your dependence on social media may have reached unhealthy levels.

– Constantly comparing yourself

It’s often said that social media is essentially a highlight reel of people’s lives, but does it make you feel unsatisfied with your own life? Do you often find yourself comparing yourself to others?

If you’re experiencing this, it’s most probably a symptom of FOMO.

– Interested in other people’s opinions

While making a decision, do you always consider taking opinions from others?

You can get into trouble when you start to totally rely on what other people think of you and make their opinion crucial to your success. You may begin to tailor your life to meet the expectations of others, and the cycle continues.

Listening to people is a good trait but always acting based on it can be a symptom of FOMO.

– Being distracted all the time

In this digital age, there is no lack of sources to keep us distracted. It can be hard to keep your focus when there is a notification going off every other minute.

FOMO can be problematic since it causes you to ignore real-life interactions, distracts you from work, and makes you feel stressed.

How to Overcome the Fear of Missing Out?

– Set goals and write them down

Do you have goals in life? If yes, then great. If not, take a moment to write down things you’d do if you weren’t so worried about missing out.

Then consider how to avoid being tempted by external factors or being misled by others’ goals. Start with small goals and create a reward system to stay motivated.

Journaling has been scientifically proven to have health benefits. According to the research:

– Meditate regularly

Meditation is a skill that anyone can learn. It is simple, inexpensive, and does not necessarily require the use of any special equipment. Meditation is known for clearing cluttered thoughts, letting go of negativity, and calming the mind and body.

Here’s a simple guide to start meditating:

  1. When you first start out, set a timer for one to five minutes.
  2. Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit where you feel supported.
  3. Then, with your eyes open or closed, focus on your breathing.
  4. Don’t be concerned if your attention wanders. When you notice it wandering, gently bring it back to breathing.
  5. When the timer goes off, take note of how you feel and then go about your day.

– Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of becoming fully aware of your surroundings in the present moment. Those struggling from FOMO can benefit from mindfulness and begin to appreciate their current state of being.

According to research, those who participate in a mindfulness-based intervention may report considerable reductions in anxiety and depression symptoms.

It can, among other things, provide a break from stressful thoughts and allow you to take a mental break and gain perspective.

Instead of rushing through your day’s tasks, take a moment to appreciate where you are right now. When you find happiness in the little things of your day-to-day life, you’ll feel less anxious about what others are up to.

– Control your thoughts

According to research, FOMO can actually be a form of cognitive distortion.

Cognitive distortions are negative thought patterns that are often irrational and can lead to depression and other mental health problems.

Cognitive restructuring is one of the core components of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). It is the process of identifying and changing negative ideas into more beneficial and adaptive responses.

The basic steps for cognitive restructuring are as follows:

  • Ask yourself “Is this thought realistic?”, “Is this a habitual thought, or do facts back it up?”
  • Actively challenge the thought and look for alternative explanations.
  • Finally, replace these thoughts with more rational ways of thinking.

Redirecting your thoughts to positive, constructive ones can help you stop worrying about what you’re missing and become more confident in your current self.

– Limit social media use

People use social media to feel more connected, but it can also make them feel more isolated in so many ways. We are now trying to keep up with hundreds, if not thousands, of social media friends and followers, as opposed to a handful of peers.

Extensive use of social media has been linked to higher levels of anxiety and depression in studies. Taking a step back throughout the day will help you be more present in your life, improve your mood, and keep you from falling into these negative emotional states.

Tip:  Turn off notifications and keep your phone out of reach during important tasks. If limiting time on social media doesn’t seem like enough, maybe try going without social media for a day, a week, or even a month.

– Make real connections

Feelings of exclusion or missing out are our brain’s way of telling us that we want to make more connections with others and increase our sense of belonging.

Seeking connections on social media is not always the best way to do so. Why not make plans to meet people in person instead of attempting to connect with more people on social media?

For example, take a friend to the movies, or go for a walk or strike up a conversation with your neighbors.

Tip: Consider your opportunities from the time you wake up until you go to bed as a continuous flow of new experiences. Make sure the activities you choose to keep you occupied are both less stressful and enjoyable.

– Practice gratefulness

Gratitude is something that each of us must practice on a daily basis, whether we have FOMO or not. Practicing gratitude can take many forms, from daily journaling to a peaceful stroll through the park.

Here are a few real benefits of being grateful:

So take a moment to appreciate what you already have rather than becoming anxious about what you might be missing.


FOMO is a term that gets thrown around a lot these days. It’s no surprise that something as transformative as social media would have complex, positive, and negative consequences in our daily lives. The good news is you can fix this problem.

The first step is to acknowledge that there is an issue. Make a clear plan and take small steps that will pay off in the long run. And if these steps you’re taking aren’t working, it may be time to talk to your doctor or a licensed behavioral health specialist to tackle the problem.

It’s your life, don’t miss out on it.



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