Fun? Without Me? 5 Tips to Fend Off FOMO When You Have to Study

Oxford dictionaries define FOMO, fear of missing out, as “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere.” It is the constant worry that others might be having more fun than you at any given moment, doing something you’re not part of. This feeling pervades moments that would otherwise be quite satisfying with disappointment because you are always wondering whether there was something better you could have been doing instead. You might find yourself saying yes to every invitation in an attempt to not miss out on anything only to find you’re thinking about what else you could be doing instead when you do get to those events, or worrying about how much fun everyone else is having without you when you have to say no to invitations.

FOMO hits us especially hard during midterm/exams season when there’s no time for much else besides studying. Checking social media and getting notifications of others doing fun things while you’re spending late nights at the library can take its toll on you. But fear not, here are 5 tips I got for you to fend off the fear of missing out when you have to study.

Disclaimer: I am by no means an expert on this topic. The advice given here is based on my own experience on how I overcame my FOMO. If you are experiencing anxiety from fear of missing out that is interfering with your life, do not hesitate to reach out to someone. If you have any comments or suggestions on this article, please do not hesitate to contact me.

1. The 3Ds: Getting Rid of the Reminders 

The 3Ds: Decrease, deactivate and delete. You don’t want to see all the notifications and the posts on social media reminding you of all the other things you could be doing instead while you’re trying to study. Decrease the time you spend on social media, or if you’re like me and have no self-control, deactivate your accounts, and delete the apps. Deactivate your Facebook, Twitter and delete your Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Youtube, Reddit, Linkedin (ok you might want to keep that one) apps. You can always activate your accounts and download the apps again when you’re done with exams (remember that you have 30 days to activate your account before Twitter deletes it and that you are able to still keep on using Messenger even after deactivating your Facebook - so you won’t be that disconnected from everyone.) When you don’t see all the events that are happening and what other people are doing, you might find yourself better able to focus.

2. Library date? Integrating Academics with Social Life 

Your social life and academic life do not have to be strictly separate things where you’re doing something for either one or the other. By going to the library with a friend, or studying for a test with a classmate, you can multitask (a student favourite) by socializing and studying at the same time (if you find that studying with someone is helpful to you.) You get to study and spend time with your friends and keep an eye on them so they don’t go do fun things without you (ha! multitasking again.) This way, you won't feel like you're missing out on socializing. And you will find yourself perhaps cherishing the feeling of "missing out" on things together and the realization that even though there are a million other things happening at that moment, you still enjoyed doing what you did. If you do study with your friends, please remember to (yes, I'm going to be that person) be respectful to others in designated quiet spots in the library by keeping that noise level down. 

3. Common myth: “You Can’t Relive a Party” 

Whoever said “You can always retake a class, but you can’t relive a party,” obviously never had to retake a class. It’s actually quite the opposite. You can rest easy knowing there will always be more parties (but you probably won't get a chance to redo an assignment.) Oh, but what if this party is going to be the best party of my life and if I don’t go I miss out on so many fun things? Dear past self, from February 2017, the frat party you went to instead of writing your philosophy essay that was due the next day clearly wasn’t worth it. Readers, I have made my fair share of mistakes so you do not have to, and I am here to tell you that there will always be more parties in the future (more fun ones and boring ones) but the assignment that is due tomorrow is due tomorrow. I don’t mean to be a mom but if you don’t do that assignment right now, you’re risking missing out on a lot more (the grade you wanted, the GPA you aspired for, grad school etc.) But seriously, there will always be more parties! Trust me you’re not missing out on anything if you just skip this one.

4. An Oxymoron? The Legend of the Guilt Free Breaks

Wait what even is that? Are guilt-free breaks even possible? Aren’t breaks those things where you look at your phone for 55 minutes when you're supposed to be studying and feel shame after? Well, that is actually what happens when you don’t take adequate breaks and then find yourself unable to focus anymore so you end up looking at your phone. By planning guilt-free breaks, you will find yourself able to focus better, and you won’t feel like you’re studying all the time and not doing anything else, so you will be less likely to feel like you’re missing out on everything else. A guilt-free break can be where you do something you enjoy for a couple of minutes so you can re-energize. You need breaks from both social life and academics, which is why saying yes to every invitation can leave you feeling drained (especially for introverts) and studying all the time can leave you feeling exhausted. You're going to be taking breaks anyway (perhaps involuntarily in the form of procrastination) so why not plan them and make them enjoyable? 

5. Being in the Now: Realizing That You’re Not Missing Out On Anything 

You’re not actually missing out on anything by doing things that you are supposed to do. People are not necessarily doing better things, just different things than you are at that moment. Besides, you might as well already accept that somebody could always be having more fun than you at any given moment, in fact I’m sure somebody is having more fun than you right now (omg! more fun? who? where?) but that shouldn’t prevent you from being in the now and enjoying what you’re doing right now. Instead of worrying about what everyone else is doing, you can try to focus more on what you are doing. Remember how excited you were, when you first came to McGill. But after a while, it got repetitive and maybe you started to feel like you'd rather be doing something else instead of having to study every single day. But you’re not missing out on anything by studying every day, in fact, this is where you wanted to be, where you came to study and studying might be the way for you to get to where you want to be in the future. Try to appreciate what you're doing now and rekindle your old excitements (yes, you were at one point actually excited to study!)


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