FOMO: The epidemic sweeping the nation

It’s the epidemic sweeping the nation. Some of already know we have it, and others knew they had something wrong but couldn’t get a diagnosis. So far, we’ve estimated there are millions of Australians suffering from FOMO: the Fear Of Missing Out.

So what is FOMO? And how can you diagnosis and cure yourself from this insidious disease?


FOMO is said to be caused by a desire to say yes to everything in case you miss out on something, because if you say no, you could miss out. FOMO also applies where you see others doing things you wish you could and feel desperately jealous and an overwhelming sense of missing out.

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It’s an irrational fear that if you’re not there for a certain event then you are missing out on some vital to your happiness – and it can effect anyone of any age.

You find yourself saying yes to things you’d rather say no to, on the off-chance that something out-of-the-blue will happen. They say that if you’re looking for love, you’re not going to find them at home. Having an agenda or something you want to achieve can make every event look like an opportunity to meet that person, see that thing or go outside your comfort zone when in actuality, you don’t miss out on anything.

In our 60s, it can be hard to watch as other women and men our age have everlasting super funds, a big house and go cruising and on overseas trips, while you’re stuck at home. You look at their photos and wish that you too could have the same luxuries and wonder what you’re missing out on.

The pain we feel from seeing others have good fortune and the unattainable need for everything to be great, makes us distracted, unhappy and not in the present moment.

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Symptoms of FOMO

With the advent of technology and the role of social media in our lives, FOMO is rife in society. We watch our newsfeed and look through friends and family members’ photos and feel left out. We also get attached to looking at our newsfeed because if we don’t, we could miss out on something really important.

The symptoms of an onset of FOMO include a pit in one’s stomach, sudden restlessness, a general feeling of anxiety, anger and judgement of other people’s lives instead of enjoying our own, envy and depression.

How to cure FOMO

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Consider these questions when you feel FOMO coming on:

  • Is there anything about this event will really be different to other events like this you’ve attended?
  • What exactly are you afraid of missing out on? Is it likely to occur?
  • Is this feeling telling me something that I need to change?
  • Is this something I really wished I was doing?
  • Are you inclined to say yes because you want to go, or because other people think you should want to go?
  • Will you wake up the next morning filled with regrets if you don’t go?
  • If you say yes, will you be able to leave when you want? (If you say no, will you be able to change your mind?
  • Is this something that is viable for me right now?
  • Is this an accurate representation of reality?



It’s just a fact of life that someone out there somewhere is really having a better time that you, but you just need to accept that and move on. It’s worthwhile to realise that when you feel guilty or jealous of what you “could” be doing, FOMO can be misleading. What you’re missing out on could very well not be as big or great as you think it is.

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You should also realise that no one wins at FOMO, and even those who look like they’re having the best time, didn’t get there without effort. So you sitting there saying you wish you were doing it too comes down to the effort you put in. If you legitimately can’t go or do something due to injury or otherwise, then that is understandable, but if you’ve just been wallowing in your own self pity, it might be time to change it.

Distract yourself

Remove what is giving you the FOMO!

  • Turn off your phone for the time the event is happening or avoid looking
  • Stay off Instagram or Facebook and scrolling through photos of peers
  • Give yourself some time away from your phone and know that there is most likely nothing happening while you’re not looking.


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While you might not be at that amazing party right now or on a cruise ship, there is most likely something you have done in your life that others would be jealous of too. You shouldn’t write off your life as non-eventful if you don’t say yes to everything or see others doing better than you.

Make a list of your life priorities, things like continuing to learn, spending quality time with your family, working on your hobbies and so on. When you get that itch to see what others are doing so you can compare your, or want to respond ‘yes’ to an invitation to something you feel you “should” attend, think back to your priorities list and ask yourself if that’s your best use of your time.

It is clear that to get over our FOMO we need to identify it, distract ourselves, and appreciate the present moment and our choices that have led us there.

Do you have FOMO? When do you feel it most? Are you working on it?