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Slim Thinking Blog

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Do you have food FOMO?

Have you ever agonised for far too long about what to order at a restaurant? 

Ever struggled to turn down food or drink or an invite for a meal because you don't want to be left out? 

Do you see pictures of people dining out on facebook and feel like there's loads of fun stuff you're missing out on? 

Why do we experience FOMO or a fear of missing out? 

 

Scroll through your social media timelines and you'll see pictures of people going out for meals and having fun at parties. It appears that everyone is having a great time. 

On my own timeline, I've been alerted to some fantastic new restaurants opening in my local area and everyone is talking about them. Now, I really want to go and check them out for myself. Christmas menus are also starting to appear everywhere and no doubt you've had a few Facebook invites for festive drinks. 

The increase of social media means we get invited to more social events than ever and we are more aware of what everyone else is doing. What makes it worse is that the fact that the more we click on, react to, favourite or 'like' this type of content the more of it crops up in our time lines. This creates a feeling that everyone is eating, drinking and being merry and understandably we want to join in the fun. 

 

What is FOMO?  

FOMO or Fear of Missing Out is the (often unjustified) belief that everyone is having more fun than you, and that you're somehow being left out. 

Every human being experiences this in some areas of their lives but why does this happen? 

Our survival as an individual within a tribe, and thus our survival as a species, once depended on our being aware of threats both to ourselves as individuals and to the larger group. To be “in the know” when we roamed around in small groups was critical to survival. Not being aware of a new food source, meant you literally missed out on something that could mean the difference between life and death.  

Because the consequences of being left out are such a threat, our brains pay attention to and respond quickly to any notion we are missing out. Although this is not usually a matter of life and death anymore we still have a part of our brain that is specialised for sensing if we are being left out.  

Not having vital information or getting the impression that one is not a part of the “in” group is enough for many individuals' amygdalas to engage the stress response or the “fight or flight” response. 

This can cause “checking” behaviour whereby we scan our table at a restaurant, the workplace when someone brings in cakes or our social media timelines to see if we are missing out on anything. The problem is that this doesn't actually lessen the feeling that much. Being in a hypervigilant state is the complete opposite of feeling better. 

 

How do I keep FOMO at sensible levels? 

Switch off social media  

Or at least your notifications. Is your life richer for it? Trust that if something is really important it will show up in your timeline eventually. There has always been loads going on without you, it's just that these days we know about it. 

You do you

Focus on what you want. Whether it's a meal out with friends, someone bringing in their home baking or a social with drinks, keep it simple. Focus on what you want and filter out the 'noise' of other people's actions if you want to feel better.

Are you missing out? 

So now you know what causes FOMO. Ask yourself if you are really missing out? Is your survival being threatened? If the answer is no then you can stop worrying about missing out. Maybe you think your social survival is being threatened? Maybe you don't want to be the party pooper? Is there another way you can join in and connect? I don't know about you but I know I've never fallen out with someone I liked because they didn't have a starter. 

JOMO

This word entered the Oxford English Dictionary this year, it means Joy of Missing Out. It's about just enjoying what you are doing here and taking pleasure from not joining in. I think this idea from Liz Danzico might be one of my favourite antidotes to FOMO. She keeps a note of all the things she says no to:

Suddenly, I’m making a list of cities not seen, aeroplanes not embarked, and time saved, rather than time taken away. Several months later, I have a made a substantial something. It’s how I’ve marked time.
— Liz Danzico

When I was on a diet I took great pleasure in saying no. It wasn't about being smug, it was about taking pleasure from knowing that each 'no' was taking me closer to what I wanted. Each 'no' I wracked up was another step forward and as I started to see results I took great joy in missing out on stuff. 

 

There you go, some top tips for overcoming your fear of missing out?

So what about those restaurants I've been reading about? 

I've booked into one on my birthday. I figure the rest will still be around next year if they are really worth going to. 

 

What about you?

Do you get FOMO? 

How do you deal with it? Let us know below or on the Facebook page. 

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