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Does a fear of missing out drive you to fill your calendar with more events than you can physically attend and spend the rest of your time checking social media to make sure your friends aren’t having a great time without you? This is the infamous FOMO (fear of missing out). 

Thankfully, there’s an antidote to all that fear. Introducing JOMO, the joy of missing out. It’s all about opting out, unplugging, being present and having some alone time. Can you feel yourself relaxing already?

The fear of missing out

FOMO identifies social media as the main culprit and is defined as “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media”.

It may feel like checking social media helps alleviate your anxiety about that party or networking event you had to skip, but it often doesn’t. In fact, research shows that FOMO is associated with lower mood and life satisfaction.

Lucy Morrish, a clinical psychologist from The Mind Room, agrees that scrolling through your news feed can promote FOMO, along with our culture of busyness.

“Our society really values productivity and busyness, and a calendar of work, social engagements and personal projects is seen as a badge of honour,” she says. “The other contributor is the increased awareness we have of opportunity – social media makes us very aware of what everyone else is doing. The issue is there’s only so much mental, physical and emotional energy that we have to invest in all of the possibilities at any given time.”

The trouble with knowing what other people are up to is that it makes it easier to compare yourself to them. This is a phenomenon that psychologists call “social comparison” and it’s associated with low self-worth.

“FOMO has emerged as a by-product of heavy reliance on and engagement of social media,” says psychologist Dr Joann Lukins from Peak Performance Psychology.

“One of the downsides of social media is the element of social comparison. Flicking through pages and pages of the ‘highlight reels’ of people’s lives is not good for our emotional and mental wellbeing, and research shows that many people log out of social media feeling worse than when they logged in.” 

The joy of missing out

This is where JOMO comes in. It encourages you to be present, mindful and enjoy whatever you’re doing right now – getting your hair done, going for a run or binge-watching Netflix – and crucially, not worry that other people are seemingly leading more fulfilled lives. 

There’s a lot of crossover with mindfulness and the benefits of JOMO are numerous, including improved creativity, attention, memory and concentration, as well as a reduction in stress and anxiety.

“By focusing our attention on what we’re doing rather than worrying where others are at or where we could be, it increases our sense of connection with and enjoyment of whatever task we’re doing at that moment,” says Lucy. 

“It’s really important to prioritise our mental, physical and emotional energy – we only have so much.”

Dr Lukins says JOMO is about letting go of the “should”. “The greatest distinction between FOMO and JOMO cognitively is the presence of the word ‘should,’” she says. “It’s on my list of least favourite words because when we don’t follow through with one of our ‘shoulds’, the resulting emotion is guilt – which in my view is an unhealthy, toxic emotion.  

“JOMO reflects a much healthier lens with which to view the world, which is ‘acceptance’. We don’t get weighed down with the consequences of fear, worry and regret, so we feel more positive, have greater acceptance and are better positioned to face the world.”