5 Ways to Fight FOMO

Social media makes us feel connected and neglected. Savvy Psychologist Dr. Ellen Hendriksen offers five ways to conquer FOMO (aka the fear of missing out).

Ellen Hendriksen, PhD
4-minute read
Episode #92

Tip #1: Don’t compare their high points to your everyday. Remember people put their best foot forward on social media.  We tend to post when things are going well—vacations, accomplishments, kids doing cute things, photos in which we look particularly cute. No one posts cleaning the litter box, having the flu, or picking up tampons on sale. Everyone does these things just as often as you—it’s just that those moments aren’t on display.

If life was all peak experiences, they wouldn’t be special anymore.

Tip #2: Challenge the thought that you should love what you’re doing 100% of the time. Just like every job involves the equivalent of making photocopies, every life involves a daily grind. FOMO makes you think you should be doing something awesome—if not constantly, then at least the majority of the time. But peak experiences are called “peak” because they’re  at the top of the heap and rare.  If life was all peak experiences, they wouldn’t be special anymore.

Tip #3: Accept that you will always be missing something. The study showed that young people, and young men in particular, struggled with higher levels of FOMO. But with age and experience comes the knowledge that, at any given moment, there are infinite things you could be doing. There is always more fun to be had. There is also always more work to do. But until we can clone ourselves Dolly the Sheep-style, we can only pick one thing at a time. I’ll let you decide if you want to love the one you’re with, but you can fight FOMO by loving what you’re doing.

Tip #4: Beware of FOMO being used against you. Fear of missing out isn’t just limited to social media.  Once you decide to look, you can find advertisers trying to manipulate you with FOMO. For instance, keep an eye out for countdown timers with online shopping, promos that offer “exclusive access,” or ads that simply promise you won’t miss out.

Tip #5: Differentiate interruption from connection. Social media is, of course, a way to stay socially connected. But when we try to stay “connected” by suspending the activity we’re actually doing and ignoring the people we’re actually with, it morphs into interruption.  Our brains aren’t wired for multitasking, so when we toggle back and forth between the present moment and status updates, we end up with a series of skips and interruptions—again, actually missing out.

Do you have FOMO? Weigh in on the Savvy Psychologist Facebook page.


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Ellen Hendriksen, PhD

Dr. Ellen Hendriksen is a clinical psychologist at Boston University's Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders (CARD). She earned her Ph.D. at UCLA and completed her training at Harvard Medical School. Her scientifically-based, zero-judgment approach is regularly featured in Psychology Today, Scientific American, The Huffington Post, and many other media outlets.