5 Ways to Reduce FOMO (Without Over-scheduling Yourself)

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Do you ever feel like time is flying by, and you’re constantly on the go? Work and family obligations combined with fitting friends into the mix can create full days and may eventually lead to burnout. If you live by a “life-is-short”-type of mantra like me, you might have a hard time turning down opportunities to connect with people in your life.

Why can’t we just say no?

You can blame FOMO: Fear of missing out. What if your friends and family create memories without you? What if you miss the chance to see the “best concert ever” or taste the best tacos in town?

It seems like FOMO might be a good thing, because it helps you stay connected with others. Unfortunately, this urge to be everywhere with everyone can be a detriment to your overall well-being. So … what can you do?

1. Don’t Let Social Media Fool You

Facebook and Instagram are eager to show you what you’re missing when you opt out of events. It’s the virtual version of salt in the wound. Everyone’s smiling! Everyone’s happy!

If you’re on social media and watching events unfold, see if you can notice a feeling of sadness or resentment emerging. Can you tend to it while, at the same time, remembering that people only post their happiest and best photos? If not, perhaps it’s best if you avoid Facebook for the day. Research indicates that regular Facebook users may believe that others lead happier and better lives, so know that you’re not the only one feeling this way.

2. Try on the “Beautiful No”

Are you a people-pleaser and have FOMO? Then “no” may seem impossible. One of my mindfulness teachers recently reminded us to practice the “beautiful no.” There is nothing wrong with saying no, and it could be the best way to practice self-compassion.

Remember that you can’t be a good friend or family member if you’re exhausted and feeling burned out. Tending to yourself by staying home and resting is one of the best ways to be a good friend.

3. Be Intentional with Your Friendships

Have you taken inventory lately and noticed who takes up your time? It might be a good exercise to write down the gatherings you’ve attended over the past month and list the people who were with you. Then ask yourself: Do these people fuel me? Do they inspire me and support me? If not, you might want to be more intentional with your friendships.

Enriching friendships will give you energy as opposed to draining you. It’s no easy task, but try politely turning down those whom aren’t adding value to your life.

4. Change Your Perspective

What if you could simply feel joy for those who are having fun, even though it’s without you? This might not feel natural at first, but it’s something you could practice.

In Buddhism, this is referred to as “mudita” or sympathetic joy. We are able to free ourselves from comparison and jealousy when we experience another’s joy as if it is our own. To practice this, you can add a mudita exercise to your meditation. Try visualizing your friends and then repeating in your own mind, “I am happy for your happiness.”

5. Be Fully Present

Mindfulness is non-judgmental awareness of the present moment, and it seems to be the cure-all these days. It’s almost laughable to hear of the various benefits of mindfulness. It helps with depression, makes music sound better, and increases productivity at work. Is there anything mindfulness can’t do?

I’m about to propose another feather in mindfulness’ cap. I bet mindfulness can help reduce FOMO. Instead of letting your mind wander to the event you’re missing, try tuning into where you are. If you’re relaxing on the couch with a cup of tea, can you tune into the fragrance of the tea? Can you pay attention to your comfortable seat? Can you feel gratitude for the early bedtime and extra rest you’ll get in exchange for declining the event? Take a few deep breaths and try to simply be in the moment.

During especially busy times of the year, FOMO might be knocking on your door even more. Hopefully the above suggestions can help you keep FOMO at bay.


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About the Author
Sara Schairer is the founder and executive director of COMPASSION IT , a start-up nonprofit organization and global social movement whose mission is to inspire daily compassionate actions and attitudes. She created the one-of-a-kind reversible COMPASSION IT wristband prompting compassionate actions on six continents, 48 countries, and all 50 states. Wristband sales fund compassion education programs for youth, teens, and adults. As a public speaker, Sara encourages her audiences to “compassion it” in their daily lives. A Stanford-certified instructor of Compassion Cultivation...Read more