Wikipedia describes FOMO as “a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent”
If you don’t think you are subjected to this, then either you are not being entirely truthful or you are super comfortable doing your own thing.
It get it! I have managed to give Facebook a fairly wide berth, but have recently got into Instagram. I tend to follow other fitness bloggers, runners, cyclists, athletes and people getting out there and doing big things. The thing with this is, that when I check my feed, (only once a day) I see all these people out there winning medals, smashing ultras, climbing mountains, cycling with friends and generally living excellent interesting lives while I do my washing.
I am very aware that people only show the shiny interesting bits of their lives and not the family sharing bag of crisps they just destroyed. But I still get it a bit of FOMO, which manifests itself as anxiety.
When I think about though, am I really missing out? I see the Midnight Runners working out on the banks of the Thames on my Instagram feed, and think that looks amazing. The thing is, I have my own bootcamp and running club at BMF.
I see cyclists out on their bikes at the weekend and think that looks fun. I do not have an amazing wizzy bike and am not challenging any King of the Mountains times on Strava, but I cycle 15 miles almost every day and really enjoy it and it makes me feel like a bit of a cyclist.
I see people taking part in 10km, halfs, marathons and ultras and think, I should have entered that race, it looks great. I want to feel the social, communal aspect of running. I actually get this every week running Bushy Park parkrun with around a thousand others.
I do not want to just blame mobile phones and social media. They have some very positive impacts on our lives. We are so closely connected to everyone, but in a way it has removed an aspect of that those connections. Can you remember what it was like before we all had smartphones? What they have done is increase the immediate awareness of the myriad of options that we have available to us.
What can we do to mitigate this?
If it’s not a hell yeah. It’s a hell no. When you think about it you should be only doing the things you really want to do. Time is our most precious commodity. Do you need to go to the pub again on Sunday afternoon? Or should you take time to recharge, finish that book, call your mum and start the week as you mean to go on and not with a hangover?
Not real life. Remember that social media is not real life. Everyone is struggling in one way or another. It’s not all parties, cocktails and PBs. Take a balanced view. People still have to iron their shirts, clean the toilet and deal with their own personal, family, financial and relationship challenges.
The One Thing. What is the one thing you should be really doing? Should you be working towards that promotion/new job? Should you be working on your new business? Should you be working on your relationships? Should you be cultivating that passion you keep talking about? What is it that really matters to you and are you working on it. Try and avoid the other clutter and start moving the important things forward.
Turn it off/delete apps/turn off notifications. Try and take a digital detox for a day. You never know, you might like it. Sometimes it’s quite nice when you have no reception and you actually have to talk to people. If you can’t do that, at least turn off notifications (do you really need your phone lighting up every 5 minutes), turn off the push feature for your emails. I know it sounds crazy but you can delete those apps. A friend of mine found she was spending too much time on Facebook. See deleted the app and found she would get on with lots of other things rather than scrolling through her phone every 10 minutes. She says she does miss a few things. Friends know what is happening with her sister before she does, but she says it is much more special to actual take time to phone people and speak to them. Try and remove some of that constant stimulation.
Stop the rush. I am guilt of always rushing to get to the next thing. I rush my breakfast as I have to get to work, I rush everything at work as I have to get home to go for a run. I rush my run as I have to make dinner, I rush making dinner and eating it as I have to fire that email to that guy about that thing. Then I rush to bed as I have to get my rest as that is super important too. Therefore….
Be Present. If you live in the past, you are stuck in “why” mode. If you live in the future, you live in the “what if” mode. Both lead to anxiety. We can only live in the present and keep moving forward. It is very cliché, but you need to enjoy the journey. The journey is the destination. Pay attention to what you are doing right now, enjoy it, take it in. I have heard a lot of stories recently about Olympians where, as happy as they are with their medal; the part they really remember and cherish is the hard work that it took to get there.
There is the alternative option of FOMO. JOMO. The Joy of Missing Out. It is good to take time out for ourselves. When was the last time that you sat quietly and just took some time to think? You do not have to be everywhere at once. Time alone helps creativity. Some of the best ideas come from taking a little time in a quiet place. Cultivate yourself. It gives you time to reboot and encourages you to go work towards or reconsider your goals.
As much as I love my friends, and love having a few beers with them in the sunshine at the end of the working week. I also sometimes love having Friday night to myself, to take my time, relax and reset and get up early on Saturday morning, hit my training hard and give the best of myself. Anyway, Saturday evening is always there if I want a couple of cheeky cold ones!
How have you tried to manage FOMO? Please leave a comment below.