The night before the test week, I went along anyway. I was afraid they would think I was a nerd otherwise.


Did you know this?

FOMO occurs when you experience social pressure. Social media has a major influence on FOMO. Although FOMO occurs at all ages, young people in particular suffer from it. On average, women experience more FOMO than men. FOMO can have a negative impact on self-esteem and mental health. This is especially the case if you spend a lot of time on social media.

The fear of missing out

FOMO refers to the fear of missing out on a social event. On one hand, you don't want to miss anything fun and be everywhere. And on the other hand, you want to be aware of everything others share on social media. You compare your life with those of others. Out of fear of missing out on something fun, you make sure you are everywhere, when in fact you don't even really feel like it.

Young people especially suffer from FOMO. This is because they are still developing their identity and often need others to experience pleasure. They are also more sensitive to the opinions of others.

Social media also increases FOMO. You can end up in a vicious cycle: you constantly check your smartphone because you are curious about what your friends are doing. But then when you know what they are doing, you start feeling unhappy because you are not there.

Why is FOMO a problem?

If you don't want to miss anything and therefore do a lot of activities, you can exceed your own limits and become exhausted. But if you do take an evening off, you become afraid that you are missing out on all sorts of things, making this evening a lot less relaxing.

If you let your FOMO lead you, it can cause you a lot of stress and anxiety, and feelings of loneliness and dissatisfaction. It can also be associated with disrupted sleep and insomnia, procastination and low productivity.

FOMO can also have a negative impact on self-esteem. You see opportunities everywhere that you miss and others always have it better. This can even lead to burnout and depression.

Do I suffer from FOMO?

With FOMO, you are afraid of missing out on something, which is why you always want to be with everything, even if you don't really feel like it. You may be suffering from FOMO if you recognise these signs:

  • You constantly check your phone and want to be up to date on everything.
  • You feel restless when you have nothing planned for an evening.
  • You have the idea that everyone is always doing fun things that you are not part of.
  • You feel like you have to make the most of every moment of the day.
  • You get annoyed and feel stressed when you find out that your friends are having fun without you.
  • You put things off and get caught up in an Instagram or Facebook session that can take as long as an hour.
  • When you do something fun, you think it's important to share it on social media.

Making choices and setting boundaries

It is good to realise that FOMO is a very normal feeling that almost everyone suffers from. The following things can help reduce or even eliminate anxiety:

  • Be realistic and put things in perspective. Accept that it is impossible to be everywhere, all the time, and trust that new fun things really will come along.
  • Limit social media use. Put images on social media into perspective. Remember that people on social media display their "perfect life". Every so often, put your phone on airplane mode for a while.
  • Set your own limits and dare to say no. For example, agree with yourself that you will keep a few afternoons or evenings free for yourself every week and do not deviate from this. Be bold enough to cancel something if you see that your schedule is too full. Saying no to someone else is saying yes to yourself!
  • Shift the focus from things you miss out on to things you do. It's not at all weird to spend an evening doing nothing. Think of the things you can do now that you have more time for yourself. Me-time is also necessary sometimes.

Making choices and setting boundaries is difficult. Fortunately, I have understanding friends and they do understand that I need to study and say no.


Talk about it

Can't shake off your FOMO? Don't get stuck with it. Talk to someone you trust and with whom you feel comfortable – preferably someone close to you, such as a good friend, your parents, sister or brother.

Are you afraid to talk to someone close to you? Then talk about it with someone who is familiar with similar stories, such as your family doctor or someone from your college or university.

If you prefer to share your story anonymously, contact Awel (102 or or Tele-Onthaal (106 or If you have questions about suicide or dark thoughts, you can call the Suicide Line (1813 or

Get help

Do you feel like you are not succeeding with the tips? Would you like individual consultation and coaching to find and discover your pitfalls and what you can do to curb your FOMO?

Then make a quick appointment with the counselling services at your college or university. They offer various training programmes in which you learn to deal with FOMO differently. They can often provide individual counselling as well.

Worried about a friend?

Is a friend suffering from FOMO? If so, talk about it and share your concerns. Try to listen understandingly and without judgment.

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