Better mental health starts today ’cause the fear of missing out (FOMO) isn’t doing anyone any favours. The rise of social media gave us this new fear to deal with, and that’s watching influencers, seeing celebrities, and spying friends doing all the things we’re not doing and buying all the things we can’t afford.
FOMO feels bad. So let’s switch it for some healthier habits.
Let’s do this!
Today’s newsletter is 776 words, 4 minutes.
1 big thing: Circles of comparison
🧬 It’s all too human. Scroll, publish something on TikTok, Insta or wherever and wait. Get a share or a like, and suddenly you feel good – even great. It’s a compulsion that’s hard to avoid thanks to this brain chemical.
Dopamine. Social media exploits dopamine, a neurotransmitter your nervous system uses to send messages of happiness, motivation, and accomplishment. It’s kinda a feel-good brain-drug made by your body. Whenever you get a “like” you get a dopamine hit. Wheeee!
While social media reinforces and activates the brain’s reward center by releasing dopamine, not getting that social validation or watching others seemingly ‘win at life’ feels awful. FOMO has entered the chat.
⌛ Measuring up. We humans are kinda compulsive about maintaining relationships. Not being part of the latest social adventure, trend, or investment leads us down a path of feeling excluded. We crave connections, and social media shatters us by highlighting how we’re presumably falling behind and don’t measure up.
🐻 “Teddy”. Even though he wasn’t alive during our social media timeline, Theodore Roosevelt nailed FOMO in six words.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
– Theodore Roosevelt
👉 Social Comparison. Psychologists describe the need to compare our lives to others as “relativity bias” or “social comparison theory”, and we base our personal worth on how we stack up.
If you want to feel underpaid, under-accomplished, unattractive, and unawesome at everything in life — despite the reality that you’re awesome at a lot of things — then scrolling through social media is the perfect tool for feeling awful about everything.
2. Spending your self esteem
The cost of FOMO. Our mental, physical, and financial health all suffer thanks to social media. We spend more and we feel awful.
Self Esteem. The WSJ found internal Facebook documents showing that even these platforms know how devastating they are to one’s self-esteem:
“Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression.”
“We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls.”
Social Spending.Studies show 60% of millennials experience FOMO and feel inadequate about their lives, and 57% made impulsive purchases thanks to social media and a desire to fit in. No generation is spared, though.
Social Commerce. Features like one-click buying have made it easy to spend money on most social platforms. Instagram, once a nice place to post landscape photos, is now an online mall with algorithms set to target your every move. Clicking is easy, spending is fast, resisting is hard.
3. Fighting FOMO
👣 Small steps, big strides. There are steps you can take when comparisons turn toxic.
⭕ Change your social circles. Feeds can distort our world view, and changing them can boost happiness. Look at who you follow, and ask: “Does this person give you financial anxiety? Are you comparing your self-worth to others?” and “Are you making yourself miserable?”. Curate your feeds by muting or unfollowing the culprits.
🔥 Know your triggers. You know the stressors that trigger your FOMO, so correct your course before heading in that direction.
📲 Remove apps to quit bad habits. Habit formation is linked to the cues in your environment, removing social apps from your phone is a huge part of changing your space. Remove the cue from your environment and you’ll break the habit.
💰 Purchasing power. Before making a reactive dopamine-fueled purchase online, give yourself a full 24 hours to get over the exhilaration. Less dopamine running amok in your system means you’ll often feel less compelled to make an emotional purchase.
🍏 Grass isn’t greener. Filters obscure reality. What may look pretty and shiny is often a facade. You can fight FOMO by reflecting on what you have today and staying present with your life in the now. Now is what we have, tomorrow isn’t a given nor is it promised. Focus on today, and tomorrow will take care of itself.
As always, you are appreciated and loved.
Love love love,
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