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FOMO – It’s a thing and it shouldn’t be.

From spring break to buying stocks, while not a new concept, FOMO is gaining traction as the new mental health problem in the United States of America.  The “Fear Of Missing Out” is a recent adaptation of the 2004 craze of “wish you were here” – a form of anxiety that stems from a fear of missing out on something or being left out of current events.

“A key component of FOMO is that it is underpinned by a feeling of helplessness that one is missing out on something that is crucial (and is) being experienced by others,” says Jennifer Wolkin, PhD, a New York-based clinical neuropsychologist. – Jenna Ryu, 2021, USA Today

Most recently, FOMO has been expressed by college students seeking a release from their perceived difficulties and struggles in the classroom through the famed debauchery of Spring Break.  During this time of Covid-19, college students are expressing feelings of being punished because they are scrutinized for their apparent lack of caution during binge drinking and sun bathing on Florida beaches, or of missing out because they are unable to travel to destination spots around the world.  The main reason for their feelings of loss?  Social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Snap Chat – where people post their pictures of hardy partying and sweat-glistening bodies for all the world to see.  Those missing out then look at those pictures and begin to feel those ever pervasive feelings of – “IT’S NOT FAIR!”

Both the aforementioned WYWH (wish you were here) and the more recent FOMO were not as pervasive before the age of social media.  If pictures were taken, we didn’t see them until well after the events and even then only in passing while talking to our friends or coworkers during short work or school breaks.

When the social media and events begin to mean more than what we are doing in the moment – it’s time to unplug for a while.  This is known as “Digital Detox“.  What are the benefits of a Digital Detox?

You’ll interact with people

In a day and age where everyone is walking and texting away with their heads firmly planted in their cell phones, it’s amazing anyone knows how to socialize outside of social media at all.
Try leaving your cell phone at home the next time you go out. You’ll be surprised how much more you will connect with people in real time.

When you don’t have a cell phone to distract you or to act as a security blanket, you will be fully present with your surroundings and people around you.
Face-to-face human interaction is so good for the soul and disconnecting, even just for an evening, can be fantastic for your mental health.

You won’t feel the need to compare yourself (as much)

We are all guilty of comparing ourselves to other people. And although it’s something we shouldn’t do, social media makes it a million times worse. Someone else is always “cooler,” “prettier,” or “doing something more awesome” than you.

When you take a digital detox for a day, week, or month, it will help you focus on real life and help you realize that the social media world is sensationalize and drama-filled.  FOMO will become a thing of the past, and we will begin to focus more on the most important aspects of our lives – finding health and happiness.

It allows you to check-in with yourself

Ask yourself – when is the last time you really took the time to check-in with yourself – that is to say spent time making sure you’re good mentally, physically, and spiritually?  Spending a few minutes a day sitting and reflecting on how you’re feeling and doing can have a wonderful impact on your mental and physical health.

It’s hard not to be distracted by little thing these days, most of which is connected to some way to technology – so, it’s important to tune out of technology and tune into what’s really going on around us. Take some “me” time for just five minutes every day to feel more grounded and centered.

It provides an opportunity to get outside

It’s been shown that going outside and being surrounded by nature has many positive mental health benefits. So, if you’re unplugging for a while, you might as well get outdoors.

Being technology-dependent has resulted in physical problems from staring at screens like neck pain, weight gain, vision problems, and more.  Setting your phone down and going for a hike or even a walk around the block can make a huge difference in how you feel.

The Takeaway

Make small steps to unplug and disconnect from social media and the online world. Try turning off your notifications or putting your phone in airplane mode for a few hours a day. All that matters is that you take the time to nourish your mental health and put down the screen every once in a while. Your brain will thank you.