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'The Joy of Missing Out': The new trend experts say is essential for your mental health

You've heard of FOMO, but there's a new trend experts say is taking over, and it involves being content with, sometimes, just missing out.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — There’s a new trend that social workers say seems to already be catching on in 2022: finding the joy of missing out (JOMO).

“JOMO helps us to be present and not consumed with what we are missing, but rather to be aware of those elements of our life where we are content or fortunate,” said Kelley Breidigan, a full-time senior community lecturer at The Ohio State University College of Social Work.

“We can do this by designing our environments in ways that make it easier to 'miss out' and focus on what’s important to us,” Breidigan told 10TV’s Angela An on Wake Up CBUS.

According to Breidigan, practicing gratitude and awareness in the moment are essential in supporting mental health, which has come to the forefront since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Breidigan says the past two years elevated people’s fear of missing out (FOMO) on important moments in life such as weddings, birthdays, and family gatherings. But, she says, the key to not stressing about FOMO is to not be so consumed with what you’re missing.

“Even if that’s just taking a minute to take a look at the sunrise or whatever it is that I happen to be noticing and being present with that.” she explained. “This is incredibly important too because what it does is when I begin to focus on some of the things that I'm very fortunate about, what it actually does is it shapes our narrative about the world.”

JOMO is all about finding the right balance, Breidigan explained.

“We construct a reality in a sense by what we spend our time focusing on," said Breidigan. "And I think for so many folks, it sort of opens up space in our minds, to focus on our priorities and how we want to be living rather than the things that we're missing out on without or the anxieties that are kind of clogging up our mind.”

When it comes to avoiding stress with those New Year’s resolutions, Breidigan suggests try to not set reminders in your phone. If you miss that appointment, it only builds your stress.

“What we really see in most of the research is that small changes are what makes the difference. So, maybe today it's less sugar in my coffee, or maybe it’s getting up and walking around the office or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, you know, making those small changes,” Breidigan explained. “Because I think once you begin to build those into better habit patterns, it's much, much easier to see larger changes come out of that.” 

As the world appears to approach a third year of the pandemic, experts say the uncertainty of COVID-19 can be stressful. One step to ease that anxiety is to embrace the change.

“One of the biggest parts that we have to get a hold of is that sometimes our expectations of what life is supposed to be about is what sort of overwhelms us,” said Breidigan. “Some of that [stress] is really checking in on those expectations and not holding on to this past of how it's supposed to be but really working on adjusting to this as what it is right for right now.”

Breidigan says along with JOMO, don’t forget the three basic self-care steps that can help relieve stress:

  • Regular Exercise: is essential to boosting mental health. Our bodies process thoughts and emotions through movement. We also store negative feelings often as tense muscles in our bodies. Chronic stress can also impair our immune systems which can lead to illness and disease. You want to engage in cardio exercise but also nervous-system relaxing movement such as yoga or tai chi.
  • Nutrition: What we eat matters. Good food choices help our bodies produce important neurochemical messengers and hormones that allow us to manage stress and use our brains efficiently.
  • Sleep: It is important to rest but sleep actually clears neurotoxins and other cognitive debris that builds up throughout and it allows us to process emotions.

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