FOMO is a thing of the past, now it’s time for JOMO!


Marlies Seifert



Frau liegt auf Sofa

FOMO – fear of missing out – is a source of constant worry for many. We reveal how you too can reduce stress and instead bring some JOMO – joy of missing out – into your life.

Badminton on Monday, after-work beer on Tuesday, cinema on Wednesday, birthday party on Thursday, date night on Friday, a short trip to the mountains at the weekend. Sound familiar? At least before the pandemic, many of us planned our free time like this – including squeezing in small errands and meetups here and there. Quite exhausting! The cause of this stress surrounding how we spend our free time is often FOMO. It forces us to say yes to things we don’t actually want to do or don’t have the energy for. But why is it so hard for us to say no to appointments? «The underlying reason is social pressure,» explains Roger Staub, Executive Director of Pro Mente Sana. «We don’t want to let others down – but we also don’t do ourselves any favours with this kind of behaviour.»

Finally, you could go to bed at half past ten with a clear conscience – knowing that you hadn’t really missed out on anything.

Roger Staub Executive Director of Pro Mente Sana

For example, people ask themselves: Will I still be able to join the conversation if my friends watch a film and I don’t go along? Will I still be a part of the group? Especially people with low self-confidence need a lot of external reassurance. «It is more difficult for them to escape this social pressure and listen to their inner voice.» For young people in particular, the sense of belonging to a group is very important. «This is why they were hit harder by the COVID-19 measures than other age groups,» says Staub. For many middle-aged or older people, on the other hand, the forced slowdown as a result of the lockdown came as a welcome relief: «Finally, you could go to bed at half past ten with a clear conscience – knowing that you hadn’t really missed out on anything.»

Faru von hinten, mit hochgestreckten Armen

Simply having nothing to do for a change: JOMO is an extremely liberating feeling.

Now, however, the pace of daily life is slowly picking up again. People are meeting again for drinks, going out for dinner, planning trips to exotic countries – and are swamped again with opportunities, obligations and appointments. Perhaps now is exactly the right time to consciously cultivate your JOMO. Roger Staub also thinks it makes sense to bring more calm into your daily life. «Many people believe they can multitask, but that is a misconception. Our brain needs breaks,» he warns.

He advocates living more in the present. «For the mind, it’s better to just do what we’re doing at that precise moment – without being online at the same time,» Staub says. «Social media represents one of the main problems in connection with FOMO,» he is convinced. The solution is to consciously take breaks from social media. «Your phone doesn’t have to be on you every time you go for a walk, and it has no place in the bedroom either.» That way, you don’t get to see what you’re missing out on – or could still miss out on, because your phone is blowing up again with WhatsApp messages about weekend plans.

We all only have 24 hours in a day. It’s worth thinking every now and then about what we want to do with that time, regardless of what other people think.

Roger Staub Executive Director of Pro Mente Sana

«A general rule is: don’t let other people decide how you spend your time. You’re at the centre of your own life,» says Staub. Do you feel like going out to eat this week, but no one has time to join you? Go to the restaurant alone. Have you planned an evening on the sofa, but are spontaneously invited out for drinks? Politely decline if you don’t want to go. You don’t need to have a guilty conscience. Besides, if that person doesn’t show understanding, then they might not be a good friend to have anyway. Roger Staub sums it up like this: «We all only have 24 hours in a day. It’s worth thinking every now and then about what we want to do with that time, regardless of what other people think.»

Agenda mit Ledereinband

Roger Staub’s tips against FOMO

  • Make a list of the people you really want to see and things you really want to do. Ask yourself: How will seeing this person benefit me? Make space in your diary for your priorities and stick to your planning.
  • Don’t let others decide how you plan your time. You wanted to read a magazine on Thursday evening, but your friends want to go to the cinema? It’s perfectly fine to cancel. You’re the master of your own schedule.
  • Spend time with yourself. Painting, reading or having a spa day – there’s not much opportunity for talking during these activities, so why not just do them by yourself? Being alone also takes practice. Try out different things. Sooner or later, you’ll be able to go to a concert or a café alone without even thinking about it.
  • Take a break from social media. Again, you can start by taking small steps and gradually increase the breaks. The next bus doesn’t leave for 10 minutes? Try to get through the waiting time without looking at your phone.

You can find more tips on improving your mental health on the website of iMpuls or Pro Mente Sana. The foundation is supported by the Migros Culture Percentage.

Photos: GettyImages