5 Ways Therapists Personally Deal With FOMO

If you constantly get the feeling that you're missing out, here's how to reframe it, according to therapists.
If you constantly get the feeling that you're missing out, here's how to reframe it, according to therapists. miniseries via Getty Images

FOMO, or the fear of missing out, is a common feeling, especially in a social-media obsessed world where every activity is documented. It involves the perception or belief that others may be doing better, more exciting things while you’re left out.

Though experiencing FOMO is totally normal and valid, it can also negatively affect your self-esteem, self-worth and happiness. Speaking to HuffPost, therapists who frequently deal with FOMO described how they handle it in their own lives, and offered advice for others who struggle with the feeling:

1. They shift their mindset.

Sometimes you need to adjust your mindset when thinking about FOMO, according to Erica Basso, a licensed psychotherapist and the founder of Erica Basso Therapy. Instead of focusing on an experience you lost out on, consider what you may have gained in that same time period.

“I once heard someone say ‘JOMO’ –– the joy of missing out –– and that really stuck with me,” Basso said, noting that she often used to dwell on “what I was missing out on, how my life was lacking, and not feeling great about it.”

“But when I reframed it as ‘well, what’s the joy in missing out on this?’ it really enlightened what I could focus on that was positive,” she said.

For example, if you missed a party and stayed in, think about how you may have indulged in self-care or the relaxation that your body and mind desperately needed.

2. They take some deep breaths when FOMO feels overwhelming.

Taking a deep breath when experiencing FOMO may cultivate a sense of calmness.

“FOMO often triggers the body’s stress response, activating the sympathetic nervous system, also known as the fight-or-flight response,” said Israa Nasir, a therapist and the founder of Well.Guide. “Focused breathing techniques, such as deep diaphragmatic breathing or box breathing, can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body’s relaxation response.”

Nasir recommended this box-breathing exercise: Find a quiet space, close your eyes, then inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for another four seconds, and exhale slowly for another four seconds to complete a “box,” or cycle. Nasir said she engages in these breathing cycles for around 90 seconds to feel at ease.

3. They set boundaries.

When thinking about FOMO, remind yourself that you don’t have to attend every event or engage in every activity you were invited to.

Emma Giordano, a therapist at Empower Your Mind Therapy, makes sure to check-in with herself and prioritize her boundaries. It’s unrealistic to expect to do everything you want to, she said.

For instance, if you feel like you have to work instead of going out with friends, focus on how you take care of your responsibilities first by setting that as a boundary, since work is important to you.

In practice, this could mean politely declining invitations to be more intentional with your time, said Nekeshia Hammond, a psychologist, author and speaker. 

If scrolling on social media triggers your FOMO, try putting boundaries on your screen time. You might set a stopwatch when you open an app or log in online, capping these activities to a few minutes per day.

4. They allow themselves to feel their FOMO.

In a society that is always on the go, sometimes it may be beneficial to just sit with your FOMO, said Basso. Confronting your anxious thoughts might be uncomfortable, but it can also give you a sense of agency and awareness in exploring why you’re feeling this way.

“Being aware of your emotions and thought patterns may enable you to recognize when FOMO arises,” Hammond said, adding that this “empowers me to respond with clarity and intentionality, rather than being swept away by fleeting desires or external pressures.”

5. They practice gratitude.

Practicing gratitude while experiencing FOMO is one way to combat the feeling. Nasir said she creates a daily gratitude practice to shift her focus from what she’s missing out on to what she’s grateful for in the present moment.

“Whether it’s through journaling, meditation or simply taking a few moments to reflect, acknowledging the positives in your life can help counteract feelings of FOMO and foster a greater sense of contentment and fulfillment,” she said.