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FoMO: 5 Science-Backed Reasons to Live Here, Now

person looking down at phone

Just what we need: another acronym that’s being tossed around like a beach ball on spring break. This time, though, it’s one that probably holds some meaning for you. FoMO, or fear of missing out, is a real thing and studies show that it can have some pretty major consequences on your emotional health.

You know that constant, gnawing feeling of having to check your phone even when you’re not expecting an alert? That’s FoMO. Those pangs of jealousy when a friend lands a major promotion? Also FoMO. Feelings of inadequacy, loneliness and detachment? FoMO, FoMO, FoMO.

Social networking has created a landscape that taunts us to always “be on” - whether it’s through our computers and phones or creeping your high school math teacher on Snapchat. Many of us feel obligated to dedicate hundreds of hours a year to snag the perfect photo only to spend even more time trying to come up with a witty description to go alongside it. And then you await the coveted thumbs-up for approval.instagram

Even the Oxford dictionary knows that there’s something not-quite-right with this state of mind. In 2013, the language giant took a shot at defining FoMO as “Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media.” A study by Andrew Przybylski, a psychologist at the University of Essex, goes on to say that the acronym represents "a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent...the desire to stay continually connected to what others are doing."

Suffice it to say, you simply can’t be calm when you’re always on. Knowing this, our team at To112 pulled together our top science-backed reasons to live here, now.

  1. Reduced stress response: A 2014 Scientific American article points to mindfulness as having the potential to help a person disconnect their mind from its "stress center". Writer Tom Ireland adds that this process can contribute to the treatment of anxiety and depression. When the FoMO bubbles up, close your computer and light some incense TO112’s Illuminate, which will help to clear and calm the mind.
  2. Improved cognitive processing: An experiment conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte found that brief meditative exercise helps cognition. The study’s press release explains that “meditation-trained participants showed a significant improvement in their critical cognitive skills (and performed significantly higher in cognitive tests than a control group) after only four days of training for only 20 minutes each day.”
  3. Increased self-control: A 2006 study revealed that mindful practices like tai chi and yoga help people self regulate their responses to life events. So next time you find yourself reaching for your phone, soothe your FoMo by breaking out your favourite yoga pose instead.
  4. Boosted pain tolerance: Neuroscientists have found that practicing mindfulness affects brain areas related to pain tolerance and perception. Headache got you feeling down? Instead of scrolling through Instagram, just be with yourself and your own breath for a few moments.
  5. Surged gratitude: Stop FoMO dead in its tracks with a bit of gratitude for something positive in your life. Studies have shown that being thankful can decrease the risk of anxiety and depression.
Next time those feelings of inadequacy, loneliness and detachment creep in, try to separate yourself from thinking about your future and dwelling on your past. Your mind and body will thank you.