Charles Trepany, USA TODAY Published 8:00 p.m. ET Aug. 11, 2020 | Updated 9:32 a.m. ET Sept. 8, 2020
How COVID 19 is giving us an unexpected opportunity to re-connect with friends and family during quarantine. USA TODAY
The coronavirus pandemic has canceled many things, but FOMO doesn’t appear to be one of them.
Jennifer Wolkin, a New York-based health and neuropsychologist, describes FOMO, aka the “fear of missing out,” as “anxiety that’s elicited by the perception that others are thriving while we aren’t, or that others are overall experiencing a better version of life.”
In other words, you know that sinking feeling you get when you see other people on vacation while you’re sitting at home? That’s FOMO.
But with travel plans nixed, large gatherings canceled and many stuck in quarantine, is 2020 a year of less FOMO?
The fear of missing out is alive and well in lockdown, according to Wolkin and other mental health experts.
“It’s shape-shifted,” she says. “It might not be looking at pictures of someone’s vacation or their parasailing trip or swimming with dolphins. It now becomes ‘They’re making sourdough starters,’ and ‘They’re going for a hike in these woods with their family, and I’m just on the couch and doing nothing and surviving and trying to find my breath.’ “
Here’s what you need to know about quarantine FOMO, including what triggers it and how to stop it:
New clothes, senior portrait and virtual hangouts: How to salvage special back-to-school moments amid a pandemic
FOMO, aka the fear of missing out, is alive and well in quarantine, according to mental health experts. (Photo: Getty Images)
If everything’s canceled, why is there still FOMO?
As lockdown orders took hold across the nation, Lalin Anik, an assistant professor of business administration at the University of Virginia, set out to learn more about the effect of quarantine on FOMO.
What she found in her research, which she hopes to publish this winter, is that FOMO, like many things in 2020, hasn’t gone away. It has just moved online.
“Now FOMO is felt toward digital experiences that we cannot be part of, either because we’re just too tired, too busy, too overwhelmed,” she says.
Throughout the pandemic, Americans have been bombarded with digital alternatives to in-person activities, such as Instagram Live workouts, online cooking classes and new films on streaming services. As a result, there’s actually more to miss out on, Anik says.
“We’re almost overwhelmed by the flow of information,” she says. “What we find is that FOMO in the pandemic comes from the difficulty of catching up with all the things being offered online.”
Staying Apart, Together: Why it’s OK to admit you’re struggling amid coronavirus
In addition to the abundance of virtual events, social media remains a major trigger of FOMO in quarantine. (Photo: Getty Images)
Social media is still a big FOMO trigger
In addition to the abundance of virtual events, social media remains a major trigger of FOMO. Though many have flocked to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to socialize amid the pandemic, Anik says these sites breed more FOMO than they do genuine connection.
“If I look at your social media, it doesn’t make me more connected to you,” she says. “It just makes me consume more posts or more content. But as a result of that, I feel more FOMO. I’m seeking social connection, I come to virtual world, I don’t really get social connection, but I get more FOMO.”
We also feel FOMO for what could have been
Productivity expert Melissa Gratias, who wrote a children’s book about FOMO (“Seraphina Does Everything!”), notes that people also feel quarantine FOMO because they imagine what their 2020 could have been were it not for coronavirus. For example, Gratias describes how her mother-in-law still has tickets to a canceled concert under a magnet on her refrigerator. She’s holding on to the tickets in hope of a refund.
“She sees these every day, these concert tickets,” Gratias says. “So it’s not just (comparing our lives) against other people, but it’s against the lives we would have been leading if we were not quarantined or social distancing.”
Uncertainty about the future doesn’t help either, says psychologist Kevin Chapman, director of the Kentucky Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, who adds that not knowing what’s coming next can make FOMO even worse.
“What people who struggle with anxiety and people who struggle with FOMO particularly struggle with is this idea that uncertainty is somehow dangerous, when in reality it’s not,” he says. “It’s just that that physiological arousal and the thoughts that I have about the uncertainty enhances the emotional experience, which makes it worse.”
So what can you do about quarantine FOMO?
Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate FOMO for a more pleasant quarantine.
One is shifting your social media consumption from a passive experience to an active one. Anik says that can be done by interacting with people on social media rather than just scrolling absentmindedly.
Wolkin recommends engaging in “mindful media” by following accounts that trigger positive emotions and unfollowing ones that cause FOMO. She’s also a “huge fan” of gratitude journals, in which you write down things you’re grateful for.
COVID crisis: Here’s how parents can protect their kids from coronavirus as schools reopen
Looking for a way to combat your quarantine FOMO? Neuropsychologist Jennifer Wolkin says she’s a “huge fan” of gratitude journals, in which you write down things you’re grateful for. (Photo: Getty Images)
“You’re taking the attention away from lack and redirecting it towards a greater sense of abundance,” she says. “It’s hard for the brain to focus on what we thought was a complete lack when we can bring a sense of what we do have into our constant focus.”
Anik also proposed an alternative to FOMO: JOMO, or “the joy of missing out.” She says that can be achieved by finding happiness in the present moment, in whatever you may be doing.
And, of course, remember you are trying your best. These are unprecedented times, and just making it through the day is more than enough.
“It’s more than OK to literally just survive. You don’t have to have a ‘productive pandemic,’ ” Wolkin says. “In some ways, we’re all missing out.”
It’s OK to slow down: Why you don’t have to optimize your coronavirus quarantine
https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/0f42e32787c67e840e95e667e4b8fc2d8fc90f80/c=395-0-971-768/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/GettyImages-470427615.jpg?width=292&height=390&fit=crop” />https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/0f42e32787c67e840e95e667e4b8fc2d8fc90f80/c=395-0-971-768/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/GettyImages-476672362.jpg?width=292&height=390&fit=crop” />https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/28f4fdf8d742d8bee5df79e49eefa7f968d6ec2a/c=396-0-971-767/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/247WallSt.com-247WS-671197-imageForEntry3-4CA.jpg?width=292&height=390&fit=crop” />https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/28f4fdf8d742d8bee5df79e49eefa7f968d6ec2a/c=396-0-971-767/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/247WallSt.com-247WS-671197-imageForEntry4-K9X.jpg?width=292&height=390&fit=crop” />https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/0f42e32787c67e840e95e667e4b8fc2d8fc90f80/c=395-0-971-768/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/247WallSt.com-247WS-671197-imageForEntry5-ogd.jpg?width=292&height=390&fit=crop” />https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/28f4fdf8d742d8bee5df79e49eefa7f968d6ec2a/c=396-0-971-767/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/247WallSt.com-247WS-671197-imageForEntry6-WQh.jpg?width=292&height=390&fit=crop” />https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/28f4fdf8d742d8bee5df79e49eefa7f968d6ec2a/c=396-0-971-767/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/247WallSt.com-247WS-671197-imageForEntry7-Yuu.jpg?width=292&height=390&fit=crop” />
Herb and garlic shrimp. While pre-cooked shrimp, already shelled and deveined, works perfectly well for this dish, it’s even better if you can find fresh raw shrimp and have the patience to peel and devein them yourself. If using raw shrimp, cook for 1-2 minutes longer than directed. Ingredients: 1 stick butter, melted 1 tablespoon olive oil 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped 1/4 cup mixed fresh herbs (e.g., parsley, basil, tarragon, thyme, oregano, marjoram, summer savory) Juice of 1/2 lemon Salt 40 medium cooked, shelled and deveined shrimp LarisaBlinova / Getty Images
https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/0f42e32787c67e840e95e667e4b8fc2d8fc90f80/c=395-0-971-768/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/247WallSt.com-247WS-671197-imageForEntry8-7FW.jpg?width=292&height=390&fit=crop” />https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/28f4fdf8d742d8bee5df79e49eefa7f968d6ec2a/c=396-0-971-767/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/247WallSt.com-247WS-671197-imageForEntry9-LIq.jpg?width=292&height=390&fit=crop” />https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/28f4fdf8d742d8bee5df79e49eefa7f968d6ec2a/c=396-0-971-767/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/imageForEntry10-u3D.jpg?width=292&height=390&fit=crop” />
Provençal fish stew directions: 1. Heat the olive oil over low heat in a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottom pot with a lid, then add onions, celery, garlic and parsley. 2. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until onions are soft and translucent. 3. Stir in anchovies and tomatoes and continue cooking about 10 minutes longer. 4. Add wine, turn heat to high and cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes. 5. Reduce heat to low, add fish to pot, then add just enough water to cover the ingredients. 6. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then turn heat to high again and bring stew to a boil. 7. Reduce heat to low again and cook, partially covered, for about 45 minutes. 8. Serve with rice or crusty bread if you like. jerrydeutsch / Getty Images
https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/0f42e32787c67e840e95e667e4b8fc2d8fc90f80/c=395-0-971-768/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/GettyImages-523058880.jpg?width=292&height=390&fit=crop” />https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/28f4fdf8d742d8bee5df79e49eefa7f968d6ec2a/c=396-0-971-767/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/imageForEntry12-drT.jpg?width=292&height=390&fit=crop” />https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/0f42e32787c67e840e95e667e4b8fc2d8fc90f80/c=395-0-971-768/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/imageForEntry13-j7U.jpg?width=292&height=390&fit=crop” />https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/28f4fdf8d742d8bee5df79e49eefa7f968d6ec2a/c=396-0-971-767/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/imageForEntry14-J79.jpg?width=292&height=390&fit=crop” />
Greek lamb chops baked in foil. A variation on the cooking method called en papillote, meaning cooked in a wrapping of parchment paper, cooking lamb wrapped in foil with vegetables and aromatics leaves it juicy, tender and full of flavor. Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 2. Lay four sheets of aluminum foil, about 12″ x 12″, on a flat surface and brush them on one side with olive oil. 3. Place 1 lamb chop in the middle of each sheet and season generously with salt and pepper. 4. Distribute garlic slices evenly between the 4 chops, top with a layer of zucchini slices and sprinkle oregano evenly over each. 5. Place 1 bay leaf, 1 slice of feta and 1 celery leaf, in that order, on top of each chop. 6. Sprinkle the lemon juice evenly over the tops of each chop. 7. Fold each aluminum sheet into a packet around the lamb, leaving a little room at the top, and crimp the packets tightly shut. 8. Place packets side by side on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour. 9. To serve, carefully cut open packets, being careful of escaping steam, and slide the lamb with its toppings onto plates, discarding bay leaves. 10. Serve with rice or green salad, if you like. grandriver / Getty Images
https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/0f42e32787c67e840e95e667e4b8fc2d8fc90f80/c=395-0-971-768/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/imageForEntry15-LNN.jpg?width=292&height=390&fit=crop” />https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/0f42e32787c67e840e95e667e4b8fc2d8fc90f80/c=395-0-971-768/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/imageForEntry16-G0v.jpg?width=292&height=390&fit=crop” />
Red wine beef stew directions: 1. Preheat broiler. 2. Put stew meat in a single layer in a large oven-proof skillet or roasting pan and season it generously with salt and pepper. 3. Broil, turning pieces once, for about 20 minutes, or until browned on both sides. 4. Meanwhile, melt butter with olive oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottom pot with a lid, then add onion, carrot and mushrooms. 5. Cover pot, increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, while meat browns. 6. Add browned meat to pot along with any pan juices, then add wine and bay leaf. 7. Increase heat to high and bring wine to a boil, then stir once and reduce heat to low. 8. Simmer, covered, for 2½ hours. 9. Uncover, stir in tomato paste and continue cooking for 1/2 hour longer. 10. Serve with rice, buttered noodles or crusty bread, if you like. monkeybusinessimages / Getty Images
https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/0f42e32787c67e840e95e667e4b8fc2d8fc90f80/c=395-0-971-768/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/GettyImages-1162084981.jpg?width=292&height=390&fit=crop” />https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/0f42e32787c67e840e95e667e4b8fc2d8fc90f80/c=395-0-971-768/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/imageForEntry17-umF.jpg?width=292&height=390&fit=crop” />
“Barbecued” pork directions: 1. The night before you plan to cook, combine mustard, salt, pepper, brown sugar, cumin, cayenne pepper and paprika in a bowl and mix together well. 2. With your hands, coat pork butt with spice mixture, making sure to cover all surfaces and pressing mixture into the meat. (Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before and after the process.) 3. Wrap meat in plastic wrap, set it on a plate large enough to hold it and refrigerate overnight or for at least 8 hours. 4. To cook, preheat oven to 225 degrees F. 5. Unwrap the meat and put it, fat side up, into a roasting pan, preferably on a wire rack, and roast it, uncovered, for 5 to 7 hours, or until the exterior forms a dark, crisp “bark” (as it’s known in the barbecue world) and the internal temperature, measured with a meat thermometer, reaches 200 degrees F. 6. Let the meat sit for about 30 minutes, then slice it or shred it with two forks. Add your favorite barbecue sauce, if you like. 7. Serve in sandwiches or tacos, or alongside “white beans Italian style” or some other bean dish. This recipe makes considerably more than 4 servings (it will serve 8 to 12, depending on use), but the meat will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week, and may be frozen if necessary. Tatiana Volgutova / Getty Images
https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/0f42e32787c67e840e95e667e4b8fc2d8fc90f80/c=395-0-971-768/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/GettyImages-666644000.jpg?width=292&height=390&fit=crop” />https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/0f42e32787c67e840e95e667e4b8fc2d8fc90f80/c=395-0-971-768/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/GettyImages-1131959680.jpg?width=292&height=390&fit=crop” />
White beans Italian style directions: 1. Melt butter with olive oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottom pot, then add the sausage, pancetta, onion, celery, garlic, rosemary, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. 2. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until onions are soft and translucent and sausage and pancetta are slightly browned. 3. Drain beans, then add to the pot. 4. Stir once, then cook for 2-3 minutes or until beans are heated through. 5. Adjust seasoning if necessary. 6. Serve as a side dish with “barbecue” pork or other meat, or as a main course accompanied by salad and crusty bread or “better than garlic bread.” travellinglight / Getty Images
https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/0f42e32787c67e840e95e667e4b8fc2d8fc90f80/c=395-0-971-768/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/imageforentry26-bj7.jpg?width=292&height=390&fit=crop” />https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/0f42e32787c67e840e95e667e4b8fc2d8fc90f80/c=395-0-971-768/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/GettyImages-467490983.jpg?width=292&height=390&fit=crop” />https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/28f4fdf8d742d8bee5df79e49eefa7f968d6ec2a/c=396-0-971-767/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/247WallSt.com-247WS-671197-imageforentry7-yds.jpg?width=292&height=390&fit=crop” />https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/28f4fdf8d742d8bee5df79e49eefa7f968d6ec2a/c=396-0-971-767/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/imageForEntry24-Ls5.jpg?width=292&height=390&fit=crop” />
- 1 of 25
- https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/ac688eec997d2fce10372bf71657297ff863814d/c=171-0-1195-768/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/GettyImages-470427615.jpg?width=80&height=60&fit=crop” />2 of 25
- https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/ac688eec997d2fce10372bf71657297ff863814d/c=171-0-1195-768/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/GettyImages-476672362.jpg?width=80&height=60&fit=crop” />3 of 25
- https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/55d9692064c7d12b6a999be76ca208563b88c739/c=172-0-1195-767/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/247WallSt.com-247WS-671197-imageForEntry3-4CA.jpg?width=80&height=60&fit=crop” />4 of 25
- https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/55d9692064c7d12b6a999be76ca208563b88c739/c=172-0-1195-767/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/247WallSt.com-247WS-671197-imageForEntry4-K9X.jpg?width=80&height=60&fit=crop” />5 of 25
- https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/ac688eec997d2fce10372bf71657297ff863814d/c=171-0-1195-768/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/247WallSt.com-247WS-671197-imageForEntry5-ogd.jpg?width=80&height=60&fit=crop” />6 of 25
- https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/55d9692064c7d12b6a999be76ca208563b88c739/c=172-0-1195-767/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/247WallSt.com-247WS-671197-imageForEntry6-WQh.jpg?width=80&height=60&fit=crop” />7 of 25
- https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/55d9692064c7d12b6a999be76ca208563b88c739/c=172-0-1195-767/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/247WallSt.com-247WS-671197-imageForEntry7-Yuu.jpg?width=80&height=60&fit=crop” />8 of 25
- https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/ac688eec997d2fce10372bf71657297ff863814d/c=171-0-1195-768/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/247WallSt.com-247WS-671197-imageForEntry8-7FW.jpg?width=80&height=60&fit=crop” />9 of 25
- https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/55d9692064c7d12b6a999be76ca208563b88c739/c=172-0-1195-767/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/247WallSt.com-247WS-671197-imageForEntry9-LIq.jpg?width=80&height=60&fit=crop” />10 of 25
- https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/55d9692064c7d12b6a999be76ca208563b88c739/c=172-0-1195-767/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/imageForEntry10-u3D.jpg?width=80&height=60&fit=crop” />11 of 25
- https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/ac688eec997d2fce10372bf71657297ff863814d/c=171-0-1195-768/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/GettyImages-523058880.jpg?width=80&height=60&fit=crop” />12 of 25
- https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/55d9692064c7d12b6a999be76ca208563b88c739/c=172-0-1195-767/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/imageForEntry12-drT.jpg?width=80&height=60&fit=crop” />13 of 25
- https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/ac688eec997d2fce10372bf71657297ff863814d/c=171-0-1195-768/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/imageForEntry13-j7U.jpg?width=80&height=60&fit=crop” />14 of 25
- https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/55d9692064c7d12b6a999be76ca208563b88c739/c=172-0-1195-767/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/imageForEntry14-J79.jpg?width=80&height=60&fit=crop” />15 of 25
- https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/ac688eec997d2fce10372bf71657297ff863814d/c=171-0-1195-768/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/imageForEntry15-LNN.jpg?width=80&height=60&fit=crop” />16 of 25
- https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/ac688eec997d2fce10372bf71657297ff863814d/c=171-0-1195-768/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/imageForEntry16-G0v.jpg?width=80&height=60&fit=crop” />17 of 25
- https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/ac688eec997d2fce10372bf71657297ff863814d/c=171-0-1195-768/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/GettyImages-1162084981.jpg?width=80&height=60&fit=crop” />18 of 25
- https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/ac688eec997d2fce10372bf71657297ff863814d/c=171-0-1195-768/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/imageForEntry17-umF.jpg?width=80&height=60&fit=crop” />19 of 25
- https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/ac688eec997d2fce10372bf71657297ff863814d/c=171-0-1195-768/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/GettyImages-666644000.jpg?width=80&height=60&fit=crop” />20 of 25
- https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/ac688eec997d2fce10372bf71657297ff863814d/c=171-0-1195-768/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/GettyImages-1131959680.jpg?width=80&height=60&fit=crop” />21 of 25
- https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/ac688eec997d2fce10372bf71657297ff863814d/c=171-0-1195-768/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/imageforentry26-bj7.jpg?width=80&height=60&fit=crop” />22 of 25
- https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/ac688eec997d2fce10372bf71657297ff863814d/c=171-0-1195-768/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/GettyImages-467490983.jpg?width=80&height=60&fit=crop” />23 of 25
- https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/55d9692064c7d12b6a999be76ca208563b88c739/c=172-0-1195-767/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/247WallSt.com-247WS-671197-imageforentry7-yds.jpg?width=80&height=60&fit=crop” />24 of 25
- https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/55d9692064c7d12b6a999be76ca208563b88c739/c=172-0-1195-767/local/-/media/2020/03/27/USATODAY/usatsports/imageForEntry24-Ls5.jpg?width=80&height=60&fit=crop” />25 of 25
Share your feedback to help improve our site experience!