Browsing social networks, at times aimlessly, was how I spent most of my 2020, and I dare say Jan 2021 is following the trend. Social media is my wonderland to escape the uncertainty or a way to know more of what’s happening around me (escapism yet wanting to stay connected, what a paradox!). I haven’t read newspapers in the last ten months to avoid inadvertently being greeted by Mr. COVID-19 in person, for he might be lurking somewhere near the headline and smirking. I might be overreacting, but I prefer to cocoon myself in the den of safety and precautions. So, munching on news and memes (to keep stress at bay, you know how demanding work from home is) are my reasons to check out Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Moreover, I need to keep myself updated to write pieces such as this.
Well, why am I coming up with reasons to justify my social media scrolling? Did I commit a crime? I ain’t taking any drugs! Yet, this addiction to the social world isn’t meant to be taken lightly. All the more, I believe this could be my trigger for the fear of missing out (FOMO), another term I stumbled upon during my browsing.
Earlier, I had snubbed FOMO as a fancy word coined by millennials until I realized it is a legit cause for some of the emotions and thoughts I have been struggling with. For me, the year 2020 was a hiatus and it almost unfurled a new era of taking it slow and letting go of my whims, cravings, and wishes which I realized later were mostly impractical, dumb, and minuscule in the grand plan of life. Travel and leisure could wait, for wellbeing, health, and being safe became the topmost priorities. So what, if your contacts and followers seemed to be moving forward and having the time of their lives - they were brave enough to take risks and venture out. I assured myself, ‘you are doing the right thing by staying in, don’t let their madness overwhelm you’. This is how my FOMO looked like on most days. There is a joke doing the rounds, with every refresh of your feed someone is either a parent, engaged, married, holidaying, or got a house or car.
The anxiety is for real and at times it does make me ponder ‘what about me’? Being an analytical personality, it is easy for me to get sucked into the black hole of ‘overthinking’ which makes me feel drained, disoriented, and stressed. I still wonder where is life taking me and how I can plan again with confidence. In such moments, it’s important to take a step back and watch your emotions like a witness. It works and helps me snap out of the black hole of my shitty thoughts. ‘Monica you are being a nuthead, why are you worrying about something that hasn’t happened?’ This is how I cajole myself and land on the plane of reality.
I have also realized it isn’t always what it looks like in the digital world. So, no need to bow to peer pressure or get swayed by someone’s fancy and flashy lifestyle. Everyone has their share of struggles and challenges to deal with, which are hidden and not showcased. Life may seem a bit fairer to others, you only have to focus on your own and find ways to deal with it. The grass may look greener on the other side, but who knows is it real or fake?
Comparison is always between two and that’s another form of ego. So it's better to stop comparing before it kills and frustrates you to the core. Even if you have to compare, look at those who are less fortunate than you. People have real problems — home, finances, meals, diseases, or the loss of a loved one. I tell myself, ‘your problems are all imaginary...you are blessed, you ought to be grateful’. Woosh, I suddenly feel all happy, and the clouds of sadness start drifting away.
Physical activity such as yoga also releases feel-good hormones. Moreover, breathing exercises and meditation are instant mood boosters. Many say, ‘you meditate but you still experience anger, irritation, and frustration, does it really work’?
There is no right answer to this..but one logical way to see it is — we have to clean our homes everyday right? We need to brush our teeth and shower daily, this is how it is with our minds too. Meditation is mental hygiene for the mind and though it hasn’t completely wiped off my anger and other negative emotions, it has certainly reduced their intensity after regular practice.
Remember that only the best will happen for you and nature is providing for you, looking after you. FOMO is temporary, it will pass. There is no need to feel left out when you see your friends progressing or having a gala time.
At best, grab a pillow and sleep on it. You will wake up fresh and lighter. Chill, indulge in your offline hobbies, and just be in the present moment.
It is what it is!
If none of these work, consider seeking help.