If 2018 was the year that FOMO had you glued to your phone – burning out as you struggled to make an appearance at every event and gathering that came your way – then 2019 is the year of taking time for yourself and indulging in a little JOMO

Every now and then, we need to stop. Stop making ourselves available 24/7, stop saying yes to every invitation, stop running ourselves into the ground for fear of missing out.

JOMO is the “joy of missing out”, and it’s the wellbeing phenomenon that’s telling our 21st century sense of obligation to take a seat.

But, if we want to understand the necessity of JOMO, we’ve got to understand its energy-zapping cousin that got us in this burnt-out-mess in the first place: FOMO.

FOMO is the “fear of missing out”. It’s that unsettling feeling that you’re being left out of something that your peers are doing, or know about, or own.

It’s about never wanting to turn your phone off in case you miss an important notification, or refusing to turn down an event or a party in case you lose your social standing.

But more than just an unpleasant feeling, FOMO can come with a myriad of anxieties and feelings of guilt, that lead us to wear ourselves thin as we try to do everything at once to feel included.

relaxed person

Of course, FOMO isn’t a black and white issue. It can be a tool for motivation to keep in touch with friends, as Rav Sekhon, an integrative counsellor with more than 10 years of experience, points out.

“However, there is undoubtedly also a negative aspect of FOMO that could cause the individual to become anxious, and project their thinking towards whatever it may be that they’re missing,” says Rav. “This is when it becomes a problem, driven by a fear of a lack of belonging. Maybe part of your identity exists within this group, and by missing out, you are missing a part of yourself.

This uneasiness can trigger a host of difficult emotions for you to contend with.”

And it’s a common experience, with a study published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour finding that three in four adults have experienced the phenomenon. In fact, FOMO is becoming such a concern that in September, after conducting a study into the pressure people feel from their phones to be ever-present, Google announced in a blog post entitled ‘The search for JOMO’, that it was looking into ways that it could help “facilitate disconnection”, with app timers and reduced notifications.

cosy sofa

JOMO is about setting those boundaries, and identifying when you really do need to say no. But, also, it’s more than just accepting that you will not be able to make every event, read every email, and keep up-to-date with every news story that breaks in a day; it’s about actively celebrating and savouring the moments where things are still. It’s reconnecting to, and syncing up with, our needs, and developing a deeper understanding of what works for us.

And it’s something we all need to work on.

“JOMO reconnects us with ourselves. We’re all guilty of not doing this enough,” says Rav. “We can get caught up in life, and it takes its toll on our wellbeing. The concept of JOMO counteracts all of that, it puts you back in control. It could be anything that you enjoy, but it must be for you, and nobody else.

“Accept that you can’t always attend every event, and that’s OK. It’s unrealistic to put this expectation on yourself to always be present when such things occur.”

The guilt and anxiety that comes with FOMO is real, and it’s naive to think that it will disappear just because we know it’s illogical; of all the things that anxiety is, it’s rarely logical. So start slow. Write-off an hour a week to spend on you, and go from there. You don’t need to go full-hermit, it’s about identifying when you need a break to stay in, switch off, and enjoy some quality you-time.

For Rav, JOMO is intrinsically tied up with our self-worth: “You are important and your wellbeing is important; by making the time for yourself, you are affirming this: ‘I am important and so too is my wellbeing. This time is for me and I deserve it.’”