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LOA in the News

Tips The Season To Have FOMO

By Debra Kissen

It’s not a secret that the holiday season can be challenging for people, especially for people who experience anxiety. Between gift exchanges, office parties, and gathering with friends, family, and acquaintances, there are plenty of situations that may trigger a socially anxious individual. The following article offers some tips and insight on how to navigate some of these challenges!

The period between Christmas and new years can be a time of joy, renewal and meaning making but it can also be a time of stress, anxiety and despair. This duality is because there is a whole lot of pressure and expectations built into “the season to be jolly”. It is easy to experience holiday season FOMO and imagine everyone else is out there celebrating with friends and family, delighting in their picture perfect moments while you are just getting through your days.

Living with and through social media only makes holiday season FOMO more contagious. As you scroll through perfectly curated photos and posts, it may feel like your life is lacking in comparison to the joy and delight everyone else is experiencing. You may mistakenly come to believe that you are the only one struggling with anxiety, loneliness, and despair while everyone else is caught up in their celebrations and merry making. All of this time spent engaging in unhealthy social comparison based thinking can get you stuck in the maladaptive cycle of experiencing sadness and feeling anxious. This will lead to even more emotional distress.

The good news is there are action steps you can take to avoid experiencing holiday season FOMO and to instead live YOUR best life.  

10 Tips To Minimize Holiday Season FOMO and Maximize Your Experience of Joy, Peace and Delight:

  1. Be proactive in your holiday stress management planning.  Think back to prior holidays and note which moments were the hardest for you. Pick your top two or three predicted stressors and have action steps to help mitigate these stressors.  For example, if you worry that family members will ask about your life in ways that make you feel unsuccessful – “Are you seeing anyone?” or “How’s your job going?” – plan and practice an elevator pitch that you can deliver. 
  2. Figure out what valued living means to you, and engage in the behaviors in line with what YOU want your life to be about.  Don’t get caught up in all the endless to-do’s and stressors. Instead, go into the holiday season with an idea of what you want to get out of it. For example, for this holiday season you can set an intention to put time and energy into the social connections that are most important to you, or use the time to recuperate from the long, tiring year you just had.
  3. Allow values vs “shoulds” to guide your behaviors. Show up for events and tasks that are important to you, not because they are exceptions others or you have put upon yourself.
  4. Go on a social media diet.  Determine the aspects of your social media usage that cause you to engage in unhealthy social comparisons and set reduction goals to minimize (or ideally eliminate) the amount of time you spend scrolling.
  5. Use the increased down time that the holiday season often allows for to enhance your mindfulness capabilities. Learning the art of being here now vs. then and there will be beneficial not only this holiday season but also for the rest of the year. 
  6. Slow down. Life is short and by scurrying around to complete checklist tasks, you are simply a mouse in a wheel. Instead be mindful of each moment and find one thing you can appreciate about the moment you are in.
  7. Strengthen your gratitude mental muscle through exercises such as writing down 1 thing you appreciate about your current life, no matter how big or small. Every time you work your gratitude muscle, you will learn to appreciate your own life vs. comparing to others. Think about it like lifting weights at the gym, every single rep you do increases your strength over time.
  8. Practice working your distress mental muscle by opening up to vs. fighting to “not have” uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. Through this hard, important work, you will teach your brain how to efficiently and effectively move through and past emotional distress, rather than getting caught up in it.
  9. Remind yourself that the essence of the holiday season is connections and love. You can honor this spirit by volunteering at a nursing home or joining a community group or doing any activity that takes you out of “I” perspective and allows you to feel part of something bigger than yourself.
  10. Be sure to maintain your own health, by getting enough sleep, eating well exercising when you can, keeping alcohol within reason and finding time to listen to music, read or just relax on your own.

Dr. Debra Kissen is CEO of Light On Anxiety CBT Treatment Center. Dr. Kissen specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)...

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