Even during the best of times, many of us daydream about being somewhere else, doing something that’s more fun or more exciting than whatever we’re doing right now. Then came the pandemic, which put everyone’s plans on hold. People aren’t working, traveling, or living normal lives.
For those of us who have been sheltering at home, away from our normal circles, social media has become one of the only ways to connect with others. Many of us can spend a few minutes scrolling through our friends’ feeds, enjoying seeing what they’re up to. But if you suffer from FOMO, seeing pictures of your friends hanging out, traveling, and looking like they’re having fun, it can trigger a sense of isolation, loneliness, and anxiety.
FOMO Has Been Around a Long Time
A marketing professor coined the phrase “fear of missing out” in the 1990s, but the concept has been around much longer than that. It’s why Cinderella wanted to go to the ball. FOMO is what advertisers use to get us to buy or use certain products. They try to convince us that our lives will be less interesting without what they’re selling.
Social media has made things worse. People with FOMO spend time scrolling through their friends’ social media feeds to see them doing things they wish they were doing. It can lead to jealousy and low self-esteem. Over time, it affects how you view reality: no matter what you have, it just isn’t enough.
It is important to remember that most people post their best times and highlights on social media. Reminding yourself that you’re seeing a heavily edited and “airbrushed” version of reality may help you cope.
FOMO and Mental Health
Some people dismiss FOMO and shrug it off. But for others, continued comparison of what others have, or are doing, can also lead to mental health issues like:
- Low self-esteem
- Compulsive behavior
No one has to suffer from FOMO. You have the power to work through those feelings, even in a pandemic.
Limit Your Social Media
Staying off social media is the best, but the most challenging coping mechanism for some. And it’s even more difficult now that it’s not safe to see people in person.
You can also take these other steps:
Don’t just scroll through people’s lives. Interact with your friends.
Find accounts that are inspirational, positive, or related to your life goals and follow those.
Change your thinking — This can be done with some practice
Practice gratitude. Taking steps to be more grateful, like starting a gratitude journal, is one of the best ways to practice self-care. Over time, you can realign your thinking.
Practice mindfulness. Think of safe activities that can bring you joy during the pandemic and take steps to do them.
It’s all relative. The pandemic has forced us to do things we’re not used to for nearly a year. But that year is a short period when compared to how long we’ve lived and how much longer we have to live.
Focus on your goals. Think about everything you want to accomplish, how you plan to achieve them, and take the first step. Remember, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
Talk to Someone
Hearing a voice or seeing someone on the other side of the screen can make a world of difference when we’re feeling down. It can be a friend, a family member, or someone you trust.
AltaMed is Here for You
We understand how difficult things are right now. The stressors surrounding us don’t have to be faced alone. AltaMed has licensed clinical social workers who speak English and Spanish and they’re trained to help you cope with life’s stressors and get you through a rough time. To learn more about our services, call us today at (855) 425-1777.
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