Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is a very common feeling for many individuals in early recovery. “How am I going to have fun?” “Everyone is living their best lives and I am not a part of it”, “what if I miss out on everything then I will have no fun and no one to hang out with?” These are valid concerns and thoughts that can run through one’s mind causing a lot of overthinking and a lot of anxiety in early recovery.
So, what do you do? First understand fully what FOMO is and then identify steps to overcome those anxieties. A few important tools will help you along the way and will be essential to your recovery process.
What is FOMO?
The term FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is a more current idea that has been termed by millennials to describe the fear of missing out on anything fun or exciting. In a world that is predominately centered around social media; snap chat, instagram, facebook, tik tok, etc. It is easy to be able to be a part of someone’s world without actually being present. You can utilize these social media channels to discover new things as well as capture memories of exciting and interesting events that take place. It is also a common contributor to social anxiety that comes with FOMO. The fear of not being able to live the exciting life that is portrayed through these channels can be more to handle then you would think. Especially when you are making the choice to live a sober and healthy life.
When individuals have the fear of missing out by watching others living what appears to be exciting and fun in their lives, it becomes overwhelming and allows you to criticize your own life. It creates this fear that you can never fulfill that type of life. It turns into a ‘gimme more,’ ‘I want it, now’ type of attitude. Due to this it can create a lot of dissatisfaction with life along with Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and other mental health issues.
You can push back against the fear of missing out if you focus on positive emotions, instead. Be aware of your feelings and what you are internalizing so you can confront these feelings early on. Here are some great tools that you can utilize when you are struggling.
Be Smart and observant of those who you “follow”
When it comes to social media outlets you have the opportunity to “follow” certain individuals or groups. This means you will get full access to see their lifestyles and daily activities that may be viewed as exciting or interesting. Depending on who you follow the feeling of missing out can be increased because of what you are seeing online. But it is important to remember those who you “follow” can contribute to those feelings and fuel the anxiety. Challenge yourself to change your social circle, find individuals to follow and view their social media posts that can be encouraging as well as help with your sobriety. For example, celebrities who are in recovery (Demi Lovato, Macklemore, Eminem, Elton John, etc.). Seek out the inspirational and supportive individuals that will assist in your recovery. Take the step to even limit your “screen time”. Step away from the phone and the computer and learn a new skill or go for a walk to help reground yourself.
Remind yourself about what you’re actually missing out on
The “fun” you are “missing” the fun that you really want to be a part of. It is not really enjoyable at all. Think about what that type of fun and those types of activities bring you afterwards; the Hangovers, potential accidents, regrets, and the a fact that you are powerless over your addiction which means it will never be just one time or one drink it will create a whirlwind of concerns and problems for you. Instead think of the situation GFMO – grateful for missing out. Focus on what you are grateful for at this time, those in your life that are supportive, and the opportunity to wake up the next day sober and alive.
Challenge your thoughts
Be comfortable enough to challenge your brain when you go down that road of feeling left out and not included. Focus on thoughts like; “What’s really the worst that could happen if I ‘miss out’ on ___?” Remind yourself that your recovery that you are working so hard for and your overall health are way more important then one night of “fun” according to society.
Focus on what you need and want in your life instead of consuming yourself with what you think you need/want because of what others have or are doing. When you’re focusing on your own personal goals, you’re less concerned and consumed with how others are spending their time. Challenge yourself to stay focused on the milestones ahead and continue working toward them.
Make your own fun
You are in control of your life now that you are sober. It is no longer consumed by the physical and emotional struggles and limitations that you were experiencing in your addiction. Therefore, you control what is fun and what isn’t for yourself. Why worry about what others are doing to have fun? Create your own good times- learn a new skill, take a new class, join a new group or community support, be a leader within the 12 step community, Movie nights, bike rides, swimming, miniature golf, Netflix and chill nights, ice skating, shopping, these are all fun activities that can be done sober and still interesting and exciting. Just think outside the box and then the sky’s the limit for you.
You have made the healthy and challenging step to be sober and live a healthy life. You will be faced with a lot of challenges along the way most of which will be internal struggles that cause you to overthink and overanalyze the situation, just remember to focus on yourself and what you need to maintain your recovery. Every journey is different but if you can focus on yourself and not others and what they view “fun” to be you will be able to push past the fear of missing out as you will be able to start creating your own version of fun! Challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone and be creative with new experiences! And at the end of the day focus on GFMO (grateful for missing out) because you are now safe, healthy, and sober!