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Funmto Ogunbanwo: Dealing with FOMO During the Holidays – Lagos Edition



If you’ve ever experienced December in Lagos then you definitely know that fear of missing out is a real thing. There are no words to describe December in Lagos. From spending quality time with loved ones, to attending a wedding where you don’t even know the couple (#SmallChopsGang). Let’s not even get into the multitude of events happening – concerts, art shows, new restaurants and the list goes on. You literally cannot be bored, there’s always something to do every day.

With all the exciting things happening, you may want to avoid experiencing fear of missing out, so you may attempt to attend most events. While that may sound appealing to some, it may actually be detrimental to your mental health and I’ll explain how soon. But first, what exactly is fear of missing out, a.k.a FOMO?

Just as the name implies, fear of missing out involves experiencing feelings of apprehension or anxiety that you may miss out on something spectacular if you do not attend a particular social gathering. You know, you don’t necessarily want to go for that concert, but everyone is going and you don’t want to miss out on the fun. Or you’re extremely tired and just want to rest, but your friends are going to the beach, and you don’t want to turn that down. Ever felt like that? We all have.

Research shows that FOMO is especially prevalent among young adults, and social media particularly has a strong impact on FOMO. So let’s say you end up not going to the beach, but you get on Instagram or Snapchat and see all the stories from the beach and you feel left out. Or you see everyone tweeting about the concert you didn’t attend.

You see, these feelings are actually quite normal. Several psychology theorists like Alfred Adler and Abraham Maslow put forward the argument that one of the innate needs for humans is the need to belong. We all have this need to belong and be accepted by a social group. It’s no surprise that when this innate need is threatened, anxious feelings and fear begin to arise. So, now that we’ve established that feeling FOMO is actually normal, here are some tips to deal with FOMO and look after your mental health this December.

Accept that you’re experiencing FOMO – The first step to getting over a problem is to accept that there is indeed a problem. The same logic goes for FOMO. Acknowledge and accept that you are feeling fear and apprehension regarding missing a particular outing.

You don’t have to attend every event
Now that you’ve accepted that you’re experiencing FOMO, the next step is accepting that you cannot attend every event, and that is completely fine. Missing the event may seem like the worst thing to possibly happen, but life will go on. Eventually, people will stop tweeting about the event. Their Instagram and Snapchat stories will disappear in 24 hours, and life will go on.

Avoid social media as much as possible
This may be a little challenging because we all want others to see how lit our December is, but social media exacerbates FOMO. If you’ve decided not to attend an event that your friends will be going to, checking their social media is only going to make you feel worse. You may start second-guessing your decision or even contemplate going out. If you can’t completely avoid social media this December, I challenge you to at least limit the amount of time you spend on there.

Change your perspective on FOMO
I know missing an event may seem like the worst thing to happen, but it may actually have some positive effects. If you don’t attend an outing, you can use that opportunity to rest and get some much-needed self-care. We all know how stressful the holiday season can be, so engaging in self-care will always be a great idea.

You can also spend quality time with your loved ones. Plus, you’ll be avoiding the brutal Lagos traffic, and we all know how stressful it is.

In summary, experiencing FOMO is a common thing among young adults. From a psychological perspective, it’s a common experience as we all have the innate need to belong, and it is okay to accept that you are dealing with FOMO. There still isn’t so much research on how to get rid of FOMO, but changing your perspective and being productive with your time off sounds like a good place to start. Overall, it is important for us not to neglect our mental health all for a couple minutes of fun.

Have a safe and happy holiday season!

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Funmto is a current graduate student working on her Master’s in Clinical Mental Heath Counselling. Born and raised in Lagos, Funmto is extremely passionate about dispelling the myths and stereotypes around Mental Health in Nigeria, and Africa as a whole. When she’s not studying her face off for school, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, volunteering, or simply chilling on the couch for some much needed self-care. Funmto also runs a blog called Out of The Heart which is dedicated to exploring mental health, faith, young adulthood and overall wellbeing. You can follow Out of The Heart on Instagram @outoftheheart_  and also on Twitter.

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