FOMO, which is a real thing, backed by science and even added to the Oxford dictionary in 2013, is the acronym for the ‘fear of missing out’ – a feeling of anxiety around the possibility of not being included in something fun or exciting elsewhere that other people are experiencing – even if that’s just the other side of the table at the Christmas party as our work colleagues clink shots of jaeger bombs in celebration of a few days off work, or sipping on a cup of tea while everyone else hugs mugs of mulled wine over a showing of Home Alone. The rest of the year is one thing, but for many of us, Christmas can be a time when old habits or traditions bring up huge feelings of missing out when we can’t have that glass of baileys on Christmas eve or bucks fizz while opening presents on Christmas morning (my personal *past* traditions).
Make new traditions
Research* found in 2013 that feelings of FOMO are linked to feeling disconnected from others and discontent with our own life. So, instead of focusing on what we’re missing out on, and what we aren’t doing that others are, create a more positive outlook by starting a new tradition. Perhaps you can find something unique for you that allows you to participate alongside old traditions and connect back into the celebrations like a glass of creamy homemade chocolate milk alongside your partner’s glass of baileys. Or perhaps you’d like to make a whole new tradition for everyone to join in that’s not centred around alcohol, like a work outing to the local pop-up ice-skating rink.
In the tougher moments, stop, take a breath and bring you awareness away from all the external factors – people sipping their drinks, people laughing or dancing, and away from any stories you might have attached to them – ‘look at her dancing, she’s so free, she’s having so much fun because she’s had a drink’, or ‘It’s Christmas, everyone’s celebrating, I’m missing out’. Draw your focus inwards, maybe even close your eyes to help you. Scan up and down your body for a moment. What sensations are there? Focus on how great it feels to be in your body right now; clear-headed, in control, whatever it is that being alcohol free provides you. Perhaps a sense of weightlessness if you’ve lost weight, or clearness in your skin. Maybe it’s even a feeling of alignment or pride in living a life authentic to you and what you need.
Find an incentive
I’d argue that there isn’t a better incentive for going alcohol free, than these incredible before and after photos. Look ahead and visualise the first week of January, when most people feel sluggish, downcast, bloated and regretful of all the over-indulgence, craving a detox, and now imagine yourself, clear-skinned, energised and light-hearted, ready to face the New Year. Check out our blog What a different sobriety makes for more motivation.
Embrace your JOMO
If you can’t join them, then go create your own joy! JOMO is the ‘joy of missing out’ – it’s a simple mindset shift that creates a new focus on the joy of all the things you can do now that you couldn’t do when you were drinking, like planning a fresh and clear-headed run in nature before the world wakes up the morning after your work Christmas drinks, or having a conversation with your boss over the office Christmas dinner without the anxiety the next day. Even helping someone on your way home from the pub on Christmas eve, or spending the money you’ve saved on alcohol on a special present for a loved one – or yourself! Use JOMO to remind yourself of all the gifts an alcohol-free life gives you.
*Published in Computers in Human Behaviour