This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately as I read the plethora of social media January posts about getting your shit together, setting
and intentions for the year ahead and basically sorting your life out. I felt I'd only just got over December and Christmas and was feeling under pressure to plan the whole of 2022. I didn't really feel like my feet had touched the ground and felt myself hurtling into a new year, comparing myself to what everyone else was doing and feeling like I was getting left behind. My mission for a slow reflective winter was called into question as I felt the growing list of shoulds and obligations, wondering which January challenge to do, which free course to sign up to and whether or not to do the next BIG art course. I felt the FOMO kicking in and thankfully recognised it straight away!!
So what is FOMO?
It's short for Fear of Missing Out - an anxiety or worry that you are missing out on events, conversations, information, experiences or life decisions that could make life better. We've probably all had it at some point in our lives. It was first identified as a thing in 1996 by Dr Dan Herman, and back then it might also have been known as 'keeping up with the Joneses' but sadly nowadays in the age of tinternet FOMO is on the rise and it's causing us problems with our moods, self esteem and behaviour as we are constantly bombarded with picture perfect rose-tinted images of other peoples lives, successes, families, pets, artworks, followers, dreams... we compare and we feel we don't match up.
So why do we get FOMO (An explanation of the brain bit)
As humans our continued safety and survival relies on being part of the tribe, being in the know about where the food and shelter is and where the danger lies. We find all of this out through our communication within the tribe so to stay safe equals being part of the tribe. If we don't follow the tribe or get cast out of the tribe for not following the rules and doing all the stuff we therefore might end up in danger. When this happens our safety alarm in the brain, the amygdala, tells us something is wrong and triggers the automatic survival response, fight or flight, which leads to us feeling raised levels of stress as adrenaline floods our bodies and prepares us to flightor flee from this perceived danger. Chronic stress isn't a good state to be in constantly and leads to many physical and mental issues.
So what can we do to combat FOMO? Here's what worked for me.
Luckily, I noticed my FOMO response quite early. Having trained as a psychotherapist I'm naturally quite reflective and often wonder where my troubling thoughts come from.
1. I regularly journal about my studio practice and my thought processes and this helps immensely. I turn inward and notice I have the answers I need.
2. Talking and connecting to other likeminded creative souls and finding my own tribe also helped me to realise I'm not alone. I'm safe, I have my tribe, all is not lost.
3. Meditating, Art making and journaling also help me to tap into my own inner wisdom and I start to think about what I really want, what is really important to me. I go inward and realise the big expensive art course isn't really for me, the 100 day project will lead me to overwhelm and I will be setting myself up to fail which will lead to more stress.
4. I find my own gentle January challenge and don't beat myself up about the days I miss. I practice my yoga and meditation and think about what I really want from 2022 and I realise there is no hurry to decide just now.
5. I remember the story of the hare and the tortoise. I reflect on 2021 and celebrate my many small wins. This bolsters my self belief and makes me remember if I do one thing at a time I will get there.
6. I notice what I already have and what I'm grateful for, each day before I go to sleep I write these things down in my gratitude journal.
7. I embrace the simplicity of JOMO - the joy of missing out as I dial back into me and what I really want from life, meaningful connections and relationships, time over money, experiences over acquisitions and living life in a way that is aligned to what important.
8. I breathe and my thoughts slow down. It's still winter and it's ok to take things at my own slow pace. It's not a race.
Is this something you have experienced? How did you cope with it? What worked? I'd love to hear your experiences in the comments