The Wellness Novice: My month overcoming social media FOMO

FOMO and social media



What is FOMO?

Social media is great for staying in touch with long distant friends and for documenting memories. But this often creates FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). 

FOMO is clearly a long-standing concept, but this phrase has been coigned due to it's prevalence in the age of social media. 

For me in particular, FOMO has always been there, but with the rise of 'Instagram Influencers' it’s more heightened than ever before.

For many people, it has a huge effect on mental health and wellbeing.

Why is it an issue?

Through our smartphones and computers we able to constantly compare ourselves and our lifestyle with those of other people.

Now it’s not just seeing celebrities on the news or in glossy magazines, but their every move is documented across several social channels and online outlets. It's overwhelming and I can easily spend hours watching Instagram stories of what people are eating, drinking, wearing and even which exercises they're doing in the gym!

What is often overlooked, particularly by younger generations, is that social media is not a true representation of real life. Rather, it's stylised and idealised to the point of falsehood.

So when we compare ourselves to what we see through our smartphones, how can our lives possibly compete?

FOMO and social media

The average American spends 2hrs 51 minutes a day on their phone. This not only sucks precious time from our days, but can lead to negative self-esteem issues - if you're 'forced' to constantly compare yourself and your life to other people, this inevitably results in some of us feeling like we're just not good enough.

How can we combat it in an increasingly switched on World?

If you’ve felt yourself afflicted by social media–induced anxiety, it’s good to remember a few basic things about social posts— things you likely already know but sometimes forget. 

Here's how I tried to change my mindset and behaviour:

Social media and FOMO

Editing - Do you edit photos before putting them up, taking ten to find the perfect one and then applying a filter? (erm, guilty!) Have you tried to re-create a moment to capture the perfect shot? Remember that other people do this too! Some even have professionals and software to enhance this process further. Just think about the poor Instagram Influencer whose food has gone cold whilst they have been taking photos of it!

By remembering this I was able to take a bit of a reality check when getting jealous of the fancy food in fancy restaurants or the 'perfect weather' in those envious holiday snaps. 

Be aware of selective posting - Remember also that people only tend to put up positive posts and pictures on social. Either that or they post when they want attention/sympathy/love from others. It’s likely that people posting about ‘perfect’ moments all have their own struggles, anxieties and they aren’t living in a fairy tale the whole time. Noted. 

Limit phone time – The more time I spend scrolling, the worse I tend to feel. I made sure I didn't look at my phone first thing in the morning, instead preparing myself for my day. I then switched my phone on 'do not disturb' an hour before I went to bed (and all through the night) so I could unwind and prepare my brain for sleeping.

If you want to take this further, you could give yourself a set time in the morning and afternoon to look at your social channels and then stay clear to enjoy the rest of your real-life day.

Have a detox – Only spend time looking at things that inspire you and make you happy! If I noticed that something was making me sad, I unfollowed. I went through my followers and had a real think about why I wanted to follow that person and if it was positively influencing my life.

If it's a post from friends/family that's giving you FOMO but that you, of course, want to stay connected with – turn it into a positive engagement with the post. This will change how you choose to react to it.

Follow groups of likeminded people so you are surrounding yourself with positive posts. I follow a local community group of women who all help each other with advice and recommendations and the girl power and positivity really lifts my mood. 

Lead by example – By all means still take pics and videos, but not at the expense of enjoying the moment! And when you do, save them to look at later, not spending all the time on your phone or making sure you’ve captured the perfect shot.

I recently returned from holiday and sat down with my partner to look through our photos and to reminisce and the old fashioned style made it special. I would then ask myself ‘why do I want to post this’ – is it a moment for me and my family, or for the entire world to have forever?

I didn't spend as long editing my pictures, if at all, and made sure they were genuine. I'm hoping if more of us do this we can encourage others to do the same. Be a real human social influencer and be proud!

Be honest - If you really want social media to be a representation of your life, then that doesn't necessarily mean only posting the shiny, positive things. Some people find support from friends and family through posting in their times of need.  It's not for everyone, but at least you're showing your followers the real you

Practice gratitude - If you're grateful and happy with what you have and how you live your life, soon you won't have FOMO and will look at those things you used to have envy over in a new light.

My month has been enlightening and I will continue to embrace this outlook of social media to improve my wellbeing. Hopefully if you follow a few of these steps too, we'll help to reduce the impact social media can have on the self-esteem of those around us.  



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