Naturally, we often compare ourselves to others. We may feel that other individuals have better lives and experiences than we do, whether it’s their relationships, social circles, careers, finances, or vacations. This is a term known as fear of missing out (or FOMO) and it is an all-too-common term we see circulating on social media.
FOMO is essentially social anxiety based on the idea that other individuals are having more fun or doing something more interesting while you’re not physically present (while you’re “missing out”). Social media greatly exacerbates feelings of FOMO as people are typically posting their best experiences that they deem “post-worthy.” This can have a lot of negative effects on an individual’s mental health.
How FOMO Affects Your Mental Health
FOMO leads to an obsessive need to be connected with other individuals’ lives through social media, constantly checking to see what our friends are doing and if they are having more fun than we are. Because we only see their highlight reel, we may believe they live a better life than us. This often leads to an individual feeling isolated and left out from their social experience. They may experience lower self-esteem, social anxiety, and symptoms of depression. However, social media is a false reality and is not an accurate depiction of people’s lives. Social media is filled with photoshopped and filtered photos that are far from authentic. A person already having a difficult time with their self-esteem or a sense of belonging may be heavily influenced when seeing photos of this nature, escalating their mental health concerns.
Solutions Besides Therapy
Some individuals may feel they aren’t ready for therapy, or they may be experiencing anxiety over the idea of it, which is perfectly okay. There are other strategies an individual can implement to help address mental health concerns, such as anxiety and depression related to FOMO. Social media can be a powerful platform for creating connections and maintaining existing ones; however, how we use it will determine whether our experience is good or bad.
Social Media Detox
If you’re experiencing FOMO with social media use and it’s taken a toll on your mental health, it could be beneficial to reduce your dependency on it. Limit the amount of time you spend each day on social platforms. Remove the notifications from your phone, so you feel an instant need to check it all the time. Unfollowing or muting accounts that trigger feelings of FOMO can also greatly help. Not comparing ourselves to others is easier said than done, so try an out-of-sight, out-of-mind approach if you want to continue to enjoy the benefits of social media. Instead, follow more accounts that you find relatable or that inspire you. Remember that not everyone you follow is a friend in real life. It may help improve your mood to focus on building real-life connections outside of social media.
If social media makes you feel as though other people’s lives are better, it may be time to focus on all the positive things you have to be grateful for in your life. Remember that everyone is on a different journey and our paths are not linear, so comparing our lives to someone else’s is not very practical. Practicing gratitude is a great way to overcome those feelings of FOMO. Keeping a journal, writing at least one thing a day that you’re grateful for in your life is a simple way to begin to incorporate gratitude in your daily life. Studies have shown individuals who regularly express gratitude in their life are happier overall and experience less stress and reduced symptoms of depression.
How Therapy Can Help
If you or a loved one are experiencing the negative effects of FOMO on your mental health, there is a wide range of resources available that can help. For example, BetterHelp is an online therapy platform dedicated to creating safe, equal, and affordable mental health care for all. They are committed to breaking down the barriers and stigma preventing many to get the help they need. Take a look below at some reviews of BetterHelp therapists, from people experiencing similar issues.
“Nancy is very knowledgeable of the things causing stress/anxiety in our lives today (covid, social media, addiction, self-love, money, family, etc. ) She is a wonderful listener and a quick responder. She backs up her advice with factual evidence, and over all makes you feel better.”
It’s completely normal not to always feel our best. As human beings, we naturally compare ourselves to others and, at the time, experience a fear of missing out. However, if this FOMO is interfering with your daily life or causing you extreme symptoms of anxiety or depression, it may be time to talk to someone. Sometimes we need professional support to overcome our mental health issues. BetterHelp is an online therapy platform that can match you with a licensed therapist to help you overcome any difficulties you may be experiencing.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)
How Does Fear Of Missing Out Effect Mental Health?
Fear of missing out, or FOMO, can negatively impact an individual’s mental health. Social media creates a false reality that causes some individuals to feel isolated from social circles and experiences. This can create a stronger urge to always be connected on social media, creating a consuming cycle of constantly checking to see what others are doing. Recent studies have shown that FOMO can lead to individuals becoming extremely dissatisfied with their lives. These individuals may experience feelings of loneliness, lowered self-esteem, social anxiety, feelings of inferiority, and depression.
Why Does Social Media Cause Fear Of Missing Out?
Social media is a growing tool that individuals and businesses now rely on. While these platforms have many benefits, they also create FOMO, or fear of missing out, because most people only post highlights and the positive moments in their lives. This makes others feel like this is their life all the time and, in turn, makes the individual watching feel as though they are missing out on something. This can be especially true if the individual is in the same social circle but is not a part of a particular experience. Suppose an individual is looking to social media to boost happiness because they are experiencing a level of unhappiness. In that case, they may find that they have more anxiety and unhappiness than before they looked at it.
Is There A Connection Between Social Media “Fomo” And Depression?
According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), roughly 1 in 3 Americans feel that social media has had aDo You Not Let Social Media Affect Your Mental Health? negative impact on mental health. An overwhelming 9 out of 10 adults felt concerned for the mental health of children and teens using social media. Those individuals who are already experiencing symptoms of depression may find social media use can exaggerate those feelings. FOMO, or fear of missing out, is something some individuals experience when they see what their peers do. They may feel as if everyone is having fun and enjoying their time without them. This can make individuals feel symptoms of depression, as they feel left out of the experience.
How Do You Not Let Social Media Affect Your Mental Health?
It can be tricky to not let social media affect your mental health negatively. However, there are ways to make social media a positive experience. If you are following accounts or “friends” that consistently make you feel bad after watching their stories or seeing their posts, it may be time to unfollow them. Instead, focus on following accounts that make you feel good or inspire you. Set daily limits of a reasonable amount of time you should be spending on social media. Try to be present and experience your life outside of social media.
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Social Media On Mental Health?
When it comes to social media, there is both a positive and negative effect on mental health.
Here are ways that social media can be positive:
Here are ways that social media can be negative: