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Why is COVID-19 Giving Us FOMO? 

people taking a selfie picture
(Photo: Getty Images)

Just about everything is closed and no one’s really going out, but somehow we are still having FOMO!! Why is COVID-19 giving us FOMO? Listen to Question Your World produced by the Science Museum of Virginia to learn more.

Let’s chat about FOMO in the age of the novel coronavirus. FOMO, the fear of missing out, is clearly rooted in the emotion fear. Socially-related fear is an evolutionary essential for many animals, especially social ones like monkeys, wolves, deer, and humans to name a few. Evolutionarily speaking, being separated from the group could put an individual animal in danger of being attacked. The sense of belonging together is a big part of social creatures because of the security that comes with the notion of strength in numbers.

Humans too express this emotion in a myriad of ways when isolated or separated from one another. Currently while most of our world is practicing social distancing we’re hearing a lot about all the things we’re missing out on. Beyond basketball games and crowded beaches, we’re also missing out on some very basic human stuff. For example, while we may have dozens of conversations on zoom, we’re still missing out on physical social queues and body language, it just  doesn’t feel the same talking to someone on screen as opposed to in person across a table.

Those normal physical interactions and fears of missing out combined make for some real concern though. Scientists know that raising anxiety levels causes cascading issues for our health, including  negatively impacting the immune system. Social distancing measures mean we can’t just fix this by walking into a crowded bar, but there are other ways to lower overall anxiety, including some of that FOMO. Experts encourage checking in on loved ones, getting some fresh air, hydration, and proper sleep for some ways to curb anxiety during stressful times.

If you’re feeling anxiety from being bombarded by information from the news and social media, then perhaps try that classic tech solution trick of just unplugging it. Studies have shown that time away from our devices has helped  boost happiness and lower FOMO. These studies also show that a  break from social media can reduce depression, anxiety, and FOMO.

One of the best – but hardest!- things you can do is to focus on  the positives you’re gaining in the present moment, and not on the losses of missing out. Another thought is to find the JOMO (Joy of Missing Out) for a while as you find new focuses, and maybe even save a bit of money while staying home!

These are challenging times, but remember the entire planet is with you on this FOMOing together as one big human family. From all of us to all of you, stay healthy out there folks!

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