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Taking Care of Ourselves & Each Other

Health & Well-Being

In Focus: Got FOMO?

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The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is something that you may experience at some point during your college experience, and it’s important to be kind to yourself if these feelings come up for you.


Why We Experience FOMO

In particular, the season of spring can stir up many feelings of FOMO for us, since spring break plans start being made and people begin going outside for spring quarter activities as the weather gets warmer. Those who have taken on a heavy course load, more work responsibilities, or family obligations may feel like they are missing out on the “college experience.” Often, it may feel like our academics or work lives are in opposition to our social lives, and this becomes a conflict that stirs negative feelings like sadness, loneliness, or lack of motivation. 

What to Do if You Experience FOMO

If you start to feel FOMO, it’s important to recognize that you are not alone in these feelings. FOMO has an acronym for a reason, since it affects so many people. A skill you can practice when these feelings come up is to reframe the situation and change what that acronym means to you. FOMO doesn’t have to be a feeling that comes up because you are missing out. Instead, take some advice from the Stanford Daily, which suggests that FOMO can be reframed as “Facing Overwhelmingly Many Opportunities.” This reframing better represents the reality we may be facing– as we navigate many different appealing opportunities for how to spend our time, we may make different choices than others. The “missing out” part of FOMO can be misleading, since it ignores your agency in the situation. Instead of thinking that you are missing out on an opportunity, you can reframe it as you making a different choice out of all the opportunities you were presented with. 

As you navigate all the opportunities you have for how you spend your time, your feelings of “Facing Overwhelmingly Many Opportunities” can also be alleviated by finding your own interests and pursuing activities that you enjoy, which will help you find what opportunities are the best for you and your well-being. Or, if you find yourself not having the time to do the things you want to do, managing your time and workload can help you balance your social and academic life. As you enter spring quarter, rest assured that you can equip yourself with many ways to combat FOMO.

Written by: Michaela Phan, Class of 2023


Stanford Resources

  • FOMO can create a feeling of longing to be somewhere else. Consider practicing mindfulness to help you stay present in the moment. Check out Mindful Minutes for a series of very brief mindful practices you can do anytime.
  • Feeling unmotivated? Experiencing loneliness? Finding it difficult to overcome FOMO and other intrusive thoughts? Consider meeting with a CAPS therapist. The Counseling and Psychological Services at Stanford can help address these feelings and teach you the tools needed to manage them. Learn more about how CAPS can support you. 
  • Need help managing your time? Consider Stanford CTL Student Learning Programs. Offered by the Center for Teaching and Learning, Student Learning Programs can help you better manage your time and academics through its tutoring programs, tips and tools, academic coaching, and MORE!