FOMO: How to Get Rid of the Fear of Missing Out on Something in Life?

FOMO: How to Get Rid of the Fear of Missing Out on Something in Life?

After you post a photo on Instagram, do you check every five minutes to see if you got a new like? Do you keep an eye on others so you don’t miss out on any action? Or are you always worried that you will miss some good holiday offer or an investment opportunity?

If you answered “yes” to at least one of the questions, it is quite possible that you are affected by the FOMO phenomenon. In today’s article, we will tell you more about what it entails and how to fight it.

What is FOMO?

FOMO is an English acronym representing the fear of missing out. Typically, it can look like, for example, a concern that you will not react in time to a new post and because of that you’ll miss out on something, or that you will not reply to a friend’s message as quickly as they expect you to. You often pick up your phone only to check if you have any notifications, or to quickly go through your feed or stories and make sure that nothing interesting is really happening.

However, FOMO can manifest itself in many other situations. It can happen, for example, in connection with various trendy things that almost everyone around you has, when you suddenly get the urge to buy them too. Often you might not even be so sure that these things will actually be suitable for you. The same is true for situations where people around you start investing and talking about it. You may then have a compulsive need to get into it too, so that you don’t accidentally miss out on something great.

The whole thing is not really that surprising. People have the need to be part of society, but the question remains, where is the line between what is still okay and when it exceeds the tolerable limit? [1]

It is impossible to determine exactly when the need to do certain things is normal, and when it is, on the other hand, uncontrollable FOMO. Each person has this limit set in their head differently. Typically, however, people become interested in the FOMO phenomenon at the moment when they start feeling that they might have a problem themselves.

How can FOMO manifest itself in the online environment?

  • You can become bothered by the fact that you are constantly on your phone and don’t keep up with your normal duties.
  • You feel stressed when you don’t have your phone with you and can’t regularly check it.
  • You are overly concerned with other people’s lives and compare yourself to them.
  • The thought of running out of battery during the day and not being online scares you.
  • Those close to you point out that you are always looking at your phone and not paying attention to them.

This list could go on, adding many more similar points that indicate that something may be wrong. The problem usually starts with looking at the phone regularly, but later other related symptoms may also appear.

What is FOMO?

Symptoms that may be troubling you due to FOMO:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Emotional tension
  • Physical discomfort
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Anxiety
  • Envy of others
  • Lack of emotional control
  • Feeling of not fitting into society
  • Reduced quality of life [2–4]

You can read more about the symptoms of lack of sleep in the article What Happens to Your Body When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?

Why do we crave social interactions?

In order to understand why it makes us feel so good to look at our phone and constantly scroll through social networks, we need to explain how Facebook, TikTok or Instagram work. Their primary target is to attack dopamine, a hormone in the brain that is associated with the reward system. When someone invites you to an event, or likes your photo, the dopamine centre reacts and you feel a certain level of satisfaction. However, this feeling is quite addictive, so the brain sends compulsive tendencies to do other activities that will bring you similar satisfaction. So you reach for your phone time and again, waiting for notifications or posts that will in turn provide you with the desired reward. [5–6]

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You’re not online that much, so you feel like FOMO doesn’t apply to you?

Are you not always online and can you easily imagine your day without your phone? That doesn’t mean FOMO can’t affect you. Although this problem is typically associated with the online world these days, it is not a condition. You can also experience the feeling of missing out on something offline. [7]

FOMO in the offline world:

  • Going to a party just so you don’t miss out.
  • Having a bad feeling when colleagues at work talk about an event you didn’t attend.
  • Not understanding inside jokes of a certain group of people.
  • Being afraid of missing a good deal in a store.
  • Not being invited to an event.
  • Not being picked for a team.
  • Getting involved in investing just because everyone else is.
  • Watching a show just to keep up with the conversation.
  • Buying a particular type of clothing because everyone else has it.
  • Trying to do interesting things to keep up with others.
  • Being unable to relax because of the fear of missing something.

As you can see, FOMO lurks around every corner even in the offline world. As humans, we generally have a need to be part of society. This desire is described as so-called social hunger. And when we feel that we are left out of something, it can make us feel uncomfortable. How intense these feelings are is different for everyone. Research shows, however, that young people who use social networks suffer from this problem at a higher rate. At the same time, extroverts who have a need to share their lives more and at the same time seek more social interactions are more at risk. However, it turns out that FOMO related to the online environment is significantly more common and also more risky. [7–8]

Other similar concepts:

In addition to FOMO itself, there are many other concepts that are related to this issue and you should know about them. [11]

  • FOBO (Fear of Better Options) – fear that you can get an even better deal than you have now.
  • MOMO (Mystery of Missing Out) – the fear that you are missing something, but you don’t know what it is.
  • FOJI (Fear of Joining In) – the fear that the things you post on social networks will not get any response.
  • ROMO (Relief of Missing Out) – being purposefully oblivious to what’s happening
  • JOMO (Joy of Missing Out) – pozitivní pocit z toho, že o něco přicházíte. 
FOMO in the offline world

9 Tips to Fight FOMO

V boji s FOMO nám může pomoci příklon k druhé straně –⁠ JOMO. Podstata spočívá v tom, že bychom se měli odklonit od strachu z toho, že něco zmeškáme, a naopak se radovat, že jsme něco propásli a měli čas věnovat se sobě. S tím nám mohou pomoci i následující body. 

1. Live in the present moment

In order not to succumb to the feeling that you are constantly missing something, you need to enjoy the present moment to the maximum. Thanks to this, you’ll be able to focus more on yourself. If you don’t know how to be in the present moment, mindfulness might be the answer. It can help you better appreciate joys of everyday life that you may take for granted, as well as work better with your thoughts and feelings.

How to do mindfulness?

  • Start by finding a position (sitting, lying down) in which you will feel comfortable and relaxed.
  • Focus only on your breath, try not to think about anything else.
  • If you can’t focus on your breath, try counting the seconds of inhaling and exhaling, this should distract you enough from other thoughts.
  • If your mind starts to wonder, try to push your other thoughts to the background and re-anchor to your breath.

By mastering this technique you learn to work with your mind. You will then be able to disconnect yourself from the events that cause you unpleasant feelings at any time during the day, and get your focus back on yourself.

O meditaci se více dočtete v článku Meditace: Způsob, jak najít vnitřní pokoj, zlepšit soustředění a snížit stres.

How to do mindfulness?

2. Put your phone away

Deliberately set your phone to show you how much time you spend on it per day. You can even pull up a report on how much time you spend in each individual app. Maybe you feel like you only peek at your phone here and there. If that’s the case, you might be even more surprised when you find out that you spend several hours a day on social networks watching the lives of others. Can you imagine what you could accomplish if you devoted this time to yourself?

If you get distracted by every notification and can’t resist the urge to see what’s new, turn the notifications off. This way you will only see new posts when you open the app. And if that doesn’t help you with the urge to open Instagram or TikTok, try logging out of the apps and turning off automatic login.

Having to constantly fill out the login form is annoying, it’s not even worth a quick look. Using this approach, you can designate a certain amount of time, an hour for example, each day to log in and actually enjoy your time on social networks. And maybe after some time you’ll find that you’re not really needed there, and you’ll log out after just a few minutes. The time you would spend watching other people’s lives can be filled with sports or preparing healthy treats. You can look for inspiration in our fitness recipes.

If you want to learn more about the risks of scrolling, then you should not miss our article How Does Endless Scrolling on Social Media Affects You?

3. Work on your goals

Do you know which people are the most focused on the lives of others? Those who themselves do not have a properly defined relevant goal to work towards. If you focus more on yourself, you won’t worry as much about other people’s lives or the things you might miss.

If you want some help with achieving your goals, check out our article How to Set a Goal and Successfully Achieve It.

4. Set your priorities straight

Are you always on social media because you can’t stand the thought that you might miss something? If so, try to think about whether you might be missing something else. Quite possibly something more substantial. There are real people around you who won’t be here forever. It could be your parents, grandparents, or even great-grandparents. Shouldn’t they be the focus of your attention? I personally don’t know of anyone who regrets the time they spent offline instead of having their phone in their hand. But I do know some people who regretted the time they spent online because they could have been doing much more useful things instead. Maybe you should try pointing your FOMO in a different direction and pay more attention to the people who are close to you.

Set your priorities straight

5. Don’t take social media so seriously

Keep in mind that on social networks you only see a fraction of people’s lives. If someone is not doing well, there is no need for them to inform the whole world about it. Think about what you share on your profiles. Are they vacation photos, or are you pulling out your phone in the middle of a fight with your partner to get material for your latest reels? I suppose it’s more the former.

People who have a harmonious and satisfied relationship often don’t have the need to convince the whole world around them how satisfied they are, so they simply don’t post about the special moments they share with their significant other. However, this definitely doesn’t have to mean that they are not happy.

And it applies the other way round too. Just because the people around you share loving gestures, love messages, and similar things every day, it doesn’t mean that their world is really that perfect. In short, you will always only see a fraction of other people’s lives on social media, and even the little bits they offer you might not be true at all. Remember this whenever you feel inferior and think that your life is not good and interesting enough compared to others or that you are missing something compared to them.

6. Don’t compare yourself to others

This point is closely related to the previous one. You already know that others show you only a carefully curated fraction of their lives, so it would make no sense to compare yourself to them. Do you follow people who own fancy sports cars and want one too? Then give them a like on their photo and make sure you achieve it one day. After all, envy alone won’t get you there. Use others’ success as motivation to work towards your own aspirations.

It is also important to realize that everyone moves through life at a different pace and achieves different goals at different times. Some people are at the peak of their working career in their 30s, but then they burn out and start from scratch in a completely different industry. Someone else might gradually work their way through the obstacles and become the top manager at the age of 50. Both are perfectly fine; each of us is exactly where we are supposed to be. This awareness should calm you down and discourage you from comparing your life to other people.

Don't compare yourself to others

7. Work on your self-esteem

A confident person is not easily swayed. They focus on their own life and priorities, and don’t waste time worrying about people and things outside of their control. If they want to attend an event, they’ll go, but they won’t stress over missing out on something else. By working on themselves, they build their self-confidence, thereby increasing their overall self-esteem.

If you are interested in how to work on your self-confidence, you should check out our article How to Build Self-Confidence in Sports. You can then apply the same principles to other areas of life.

8. Learn to say NO

FOMO is driven by the desire to fit in and be a part of society. But you can’t be everywhere and you definitely can’t do everything either. The activities you engage in should depend on your goals. Based on the priorities you set, learn to make decisions and choose the opportunities you want to be around. Nobody can split in two, so you really shouldn’t worry about not being at every event either.

You should learn to say NO in your work life as well. According to a survey of professionals on LinkedIn, as many as 70% of people struggle to disconnect from work even if they proactively take some time off. They are afraid of missing out or otherwise falling behind. However, with such a permanent mindset, a state of burnout is just a matter of time. Taking a complete break from work is crucial to allow your psyche to rest, recover and prepare for other challenges, both at work and beyond. [9]

If you want to know more about burnout syndrome, you shouldn’t miss our article How to Avoid Burnout: 8 Steps to Break Free from Toxic Productivity.

9. Find out what makes you uncomfortable

In order to avoid things that make you uncomfortable, you need to learn to listen to your feelings. Only then can you identify the triggers of negative emotions. Some people may find it uncomfortable to watch people who, unlike them, have perfect morning routines. Others may be bothered by people who constantly talk about calories or weight loss. And some other people may feel uncomfortable watching others enjoying their weekend festivities. Everyone is different and has unique perspectives on things. [10]

So watch out for what makes you uncomfortable and don’t follow the people who make you feel this way. Don’t worry, you won’t miss out on anything important. In fact, you’ll likely rid yourself of any discomfort that may have arisen from following their lives. Don’t feel pressured to say yes to every trendy item or tempting offer that appears limited in time. Additionally, resist the urge to purchase clothes simply because they’re on sale, especially if you don’t need them. Instead, consider the bigger picture, including the context of the situation and how it aligns with your personal philosophy and values, and think carefully about whether or not you really need the thing in question. You don’t want to end up with an apartment full of useless things, buying a special holiday trip that you don’t really want to go on, or agreeing to a limited-time offer that will be just as advantageous in a month or two. Remember that not everything that shines is gold. Before impulsively agreeing to something, it’s better to always take the necessary time to think things through. By making a considered purchase, you can only stand to gain.

Work on your self-esteem

What should you remember?

Life is full of opportunities and experiences, but it’s impossible to be everywhere or stay up to date on everything happening around you. But that’s not what life is about. To avoid letting life pass you by, you need to carefully consider what you give your attention to. By setting clear priorities, everything should become much easier. Invest your time in activities that push you towards your desired outcomes and make the most of your time and live a fulfilling life.


[1] Aarif Alutaybi et al. – Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) as Really Lived: Five Classifications and one Ecology –

[2] Aarif Alutaybi et al. – Combating Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) on Social Media: The FoMO-R Method –

[3] Baker, Zachary G. et al. – Fear of missing out: Relationships with depression, mindfulness, and physical symptoms –

[4] Sainabou Cham et al. – Digital Addiction: Negative Life Experiences and Potential for Technology-Assisted Solutions –

[5] Hugo Juárez Olguín et al. – The Role of Dopamine and Its Dysfunction as a Consequence of Oxidative Stress –

[6] David J Nutt et al. – The dopamine theory of addiction: 40 years of highs and lows –

[7] Zhuofan Zhang et al. – Fear Of Missing Out Scale: A self-concept perspective –

[8] Social Theory at HBS: McGinnis’ Two FOs –

[9] Blair Heitmann Your Workplace Guide to Summer Vacation –

[10] Anushree Tandon et al. – Dark consequences of social media-induced fear of missing out (FoMO): Social media stalking, comparisons, and fatigue –

[11] How to Deal With FOMO in Your Life –

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