“How to overcome anxiety?” is a common question we may all have asked at some point in our lives.  

Feeling anxious or worried often can significantly affect how you function daily. You may end up overthinking and have difficulty finding joy.  

However, anxiety is widespread. Anxiety is a common condition and can affect both kids and adults. 

The symptoms of anxiety can manifest in completely different ways for everyone. While some people may have more common signs, such as increased heartbeat, others may have muscle pain or digestive issues.  

The good news is that anxiety can be managed. Psychologists in Singapore may provide scientific tools to help relax your mind and body.  

In this article, we share psychological techniques to overcome anxiety and explore some anxiety counselling options.  

How to Overcome Anxiety?

If your anxiety is sporadic and affecting your daily functioning and interpersonal relationships, some simple and quick coping methods can help you control the situation. 

In this section, we share 3 easy skills that you can learn to recognise and manage your anxiety.  

1. Identify Your Triggers

When you begin to identify what triggers negative emotions, you can easily manage them.  

Online psychologists in Singapore can help you with this step. However, we also share some tips you can adapt to identify triggers on your own.  

Anxiety triggers can occur due to factors such as the following: 

  • Pressure from work or academia 
  • Relationship issues such as narcissistic gaslighting 
  • Manifestation of trauma in physical health (eg chronic muscle pain) 
  • Smoking habits or disordered eating 
  • Post-traumatic stress 
  • Crowds or social settings  

Everyone can have different triggers. To identify yours, write down your thoughts after you have an anxiety attack.  

Reflect on what might have caused it. Write the location, people around you at that time, what you were doing, and any other aspects you can remember.  

Reflection can help you identify specific factors that may have triggered your anxiety.  

2. Learn Breathing Techniques

Learning how to breathe may seem simple, but it can play a huge role in overcoming anxiety disorders.  

When anxious, try breathing deeply from your stomach, not your chest. Deep breathing can help calm down your racing thoughts.  

To check if you are breathing deeply, place your palm on your stomach and the other on your chest.  

When you breathe in, your stomach should move more than your chest. This means you’re doing it right. 

Another easy method is the 4-7-8 technique. Breathe slowly through for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and slowly breathe through your mouth for 8 seconds.  

Try to make these breathing exercises a part of your daily routine. Focusing on your breath helps keep you grounded in the present moment.  

A person sitting on couch and deep breathing to overcome anxiety.

3. Journal

Journalling is the habit of tracking or reflecting on your moods, thoughts, and feelings. The frequency of journalling depends on the specific person.  

Some people may journal every single day, while others may journal only when they have an anxiety episode.  

The process of writing down your anxious thoughts and giving your thoughts a ‘physical form’ can help you detach yourself from your emotions. Emotional detachment can also help you calm down if you have generalised anxiety 

Moreover, if you track your mood swings or feelings, you may recognise your triggers and coping methods.  

Some prompts to journal include: 

  • How am I feeling today?  
  • What was the first thing I felt after waking up? 
  • What did I do today? 
  • What do I want to do today? 

Journalling also has several long-term benefits. Research shows that journalling can help reduce anxiety, depression, and emotional distress.  

Anxiety Counselling Options

Severe anxiety can be managed through online counselling in Singapore. Based on the type of your anxiety and the severity, your Therapist may use one or several types of approaches.  

For example, if you have social anxiety, your Therapist may use exposure therapy to help you overcome fear of social situations.  

The two most common types of therapeutic approaches used to treat anxiety include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and psychodynamic therapy.  

1. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

CBT is a structured talk therapy that focuses on the connection between our thoughts, emotions, and actions.  

CBT Therapists believe that changing our negative thought patterns would also change our emotional and behavioural responses.  

Hence, you may learn practical tools to identify and reframe your irrational beliefs and negative thoughts.  

For example, cognitive restructuring is a CBT tool that can help you replace unhelpful, anxious thoughts with something productive.  

Studies consistently show that CBT significantly reduces symptoms of anxiety. Moreover, the benefits of CBT are long-lasting and can even help long after therapy ends.

A client talking to a CBT therapist to overcome anxiety.

2. Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy works on the idea that our unconscious processes influence our thoughts and behaviours. 

By developing a strong therapeutic alliance (ie relationship with your Therapist), you may receive the support to manage anxiety effectively.  

Psychodynamic therapy, while often misconceived as a lengthy process, offers both short-term and long-term interventions. Your Therapist may use a specific tool in psychodynamic therapy based on your anxiety and severity.  

Research also shows that psychodynamic therapy shows positive results in treating and providing support for generalised anxiety disorder.  

You can visit our Singaporean psychologists to find someone who can help you with anxiety disorders.  

Visit each psychologist’s full profile to review what they can help you with! 

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Recent research reveals that the average person spends nearly 147 minutes daily on social media platforms. We all tend to spend a lot of time online, and this engagement makes us acutely conscious of others’ activities.  Due to this online exposure, many social media users suffer from FOMO – the Fear of Missing Out. But what is the meaning of FOMO?

At its core, FOMO is the anxiety that arises when we believe others might be having rewarding experiences from which we are absent.

The digital age exacerbates this angst. Every ping from our devices can trigger a rush of anxiety. A nagging thought that perhaps we are missing something important or exciting.

However, it might come as a surprise to many to know that FOMO is not a modern-day phenomenon. People have been experiencing it forever.

FOMO can lead to excessive reliance on external validation, reduced self-esteem, and even feelings of loneliness. Hence, in this article, we will write in detail about the history of FOMO, its causes, and how to overcome the feeling efficiently.

What Is the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)?

The fear of missing out (FOMO) is a type of anxiety where we tend to overthink or become anxious thinking that we’re missing out on something important or fun that others are experiencing.

Don’t you always think the grass is greener on the other side? That is FOMO. 

FOMO can take several forms, such as:

  • Missing out on a party
  • Career decisions
  • Choosing a field that everyone prefers (eg science)
  • Food choices (eg “Everyone likes fast food, so I’ll have fast food”)

For example, if you doomscrool on Instagram and find out that your friend is on a vacation or eating out in a Japanese restaurant, you might feel left out. 

Your current experience of eating at home may feel less interesting than your friend’s post. Hence, the comparison could lead to anxious thoughts. 

When you have anxiety about various aspects of life, it is known as generalised anxiety disorder (GAD).  

The Underlying Psychology of FOMO

The psychology of FOMO is quite interesting. 

Human beings have an intrinsic need to belong to a community or a person. We seek hope, love, and meaning in communities and social interactions. 

Our social needs are the main reason why we celebrate friendship days, Valentine day, and other social events. 

However, when these social needs are not met, we may develop FOMO, social anxiety, and loneliness. 

More interestingly, our need for a community actually has a history – where belonging to a huge group meant survival. 

Similarly, when we feel lonely, our brain thinks of our sadness as a potential threat. The human brain constantly works to prevent us from getting into ‘trouble’. 

Hence, isolation or simply feeling left out could trigger our ‘fight or flight’ response. (ie controlling the situation or running away from the situation). 

Moreover, feeling left out at times is totally normal and a common experience. The problem comes up when you consistently feel FOMO for a long period of time. 

Persistent FOMO could lead to:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Loneliness
  • Social isolation
  • Chronic stress
  • Less life satisfaction

The History of FOMO

While the term “fear of missing out” or FOMO might seem like a modern invention, its roots are deeply embedded in human nature.

The acronym FOMO first appeared in 2004, coinciding with the advancement of online platforms such as Facebook. These platforms allowed individuals to showcase their lives.

Inadvertently, with increased usage over time, it amplified feelings of exclusion for those not involved in the community.

But the essence of FOMO is not exclusive to the digital age. At its core, it is about the innate human desire for social inclusion. We have always yearned to be part of a group, to feel connected and accepted.

This drive for belongingness is so powerful that it can significantly influence our self-worth. When we sense community approval, our self-esteem gets a boost. Conversely, feeling excluded can lead to a dip in our self-worth.

The acronym’s origin is often attributed to Patrick McGinnis, who penned it in a 2004 article for the Harvard Business School magazine, The Harbus. He highlighted the tendency of individuals to overschedule themselves, driven by this pervasive fear of missing out.

Who Is Most Affected by FOMO?

FOMO predominantly affects teenagers and young adults. People in this age group often spend significant time online. Their immersion in the digital world makes them more susceptible to the anxieties of missing out on experiences their peers are having.

But age is not the sole determinant. Regular social media users, regardless of age, are also prone to FOMO.  Social platforms showcase the best moments of people’s lives, making others feel like they are missing out. Those deeply invested in their social circles tend to gravitate towards these platforms.

Additionally, individuals with social anxiety are also vulnerable. They might sidestep face-to-face interactions, leaning on social media for connection. This reliance can increase their FOMO, as they constantly compare their offline lives to the online highlights of others. This also puts them in a state of conflict, where they find it hard to reach out to people in real life yet start developing desires for connection due to what they observe online.

While FOMO typically affects teenagers and young adults, it can happen to individuals of all ages too.

Symptoms of FOMO

FOMO can manifest in completely different ways. While one person may have FOMO of missing out on a party, someone else could have FOMO due to choosing a less famous career path (eg chefs, poets).

However, recently, a lot of people have FOMO due to social media. We now spend almost the maximum amount of time daily on social media. 

Hence, when we scroll through posts and see that people our age are spending their time on exotic vacations or freelancing, it is common to feel left out and anxious. 

See: Social Media & Mental Health: How Is It Connected?

If you find that one or more of the symptoms below are relatable, you may have FOMO. However, a therapist can help you identify and replace your negative thinking patterns. 

Some of the common signs of FOMO are:

  • You constantly check social media to stay updated, watch how everyone else is living their lives, or feel scared that you might miss out on something fun. 
  • You check your phone multiple times a day. In fact, if you have FOMO, you become so anxious that you check your phone twice in under a minute. 
  • You say ‘yes’ to every invitation, party, or offer to hang out, even if you are busy with something else or have no interest in going out. 
  • You feel jealous or upset when you see or hear about other people’s experiences.
  • You worry or feel anxious that you might miss out on something when you are already trying to enjoy a party or vacation.
  • You find it hard to make decisions because of your fear of ‘choosing the wrong thing’.
  • You feel mentally exhausted after hours and hours of scrolling on social media (ie doom scrolling). Yet, you continue to do the same every single day. 

What Causes the Fear of Missing Out?

Is FOMO a Mental Health Disorder?

FOMO is not a mental health disorder. The DSM-5, which is the primary diagnostic tool used by professionals, does not mention FOMO as an official disorder. 

However, FOMO can affect a person’s mental wellness and cause several other mental health issues. 

For example, if you have FOMO, you may have a higher risk of developing:

  • Chronic anxiety
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Loneliness
  • Chronic stress
  • Anger
  • Lack of self-awareness

Moreover, having FOMO can also affect other aspects of your life, such as:

If you find it hard to differentiate between FOMO and any symptoms of mental health issues, a therapist or a psychologist can help you. 

How Does FOMO Affect Mental Health?

If you have FOMO, it can affect your mental health in several ways. However, the symptoms of FOMO affect everyone differently. 

For example, some people can overcome FOMO and may only suffer from mild anxiety. In contrast, others can develop a mental health condition called generalised anxiety disorder. 

Constantly comparing your life and yourself on social media can lead to several issues, such as:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Feelings of inadequacy
  • Anxiety and depression

If you are preoccupied with other people’s way of living – you may spend hours on your mobile every night. Hence, FOMO can also affect your sleep cycle and cause issues like irritation, lack of concentration, or a lack of appetite. 

Lastly, FOMO can also affect how you interact with your loved ones. You may often ignore your real-life friends or family members and instead feel left out seeing online posts and stories. 

Hence, if you find that FOMO is negatively affecting your life, please seek professional support. 

Managing FOMO

Experiencing FOMO is not uncommon. Often, underlying dissatisfaction with life can lead us to seek comfort in social media. However, increased engagement online can paradoxically intensify these feelings.

Here are some strategies to help you deal with the fear of missing out:

Shifting focus

Therapists may use therapeutic approaches such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) to help you shift your focus from what you’re missing out on to what you already have. 

For example, you can use tools such as cognitive reframing. 

If you think, “My friend is on vacation, and I’m missing out”, -> Try changing your thoughts to, “I’m with my family right now, and I’m enjoying spending time watching movies and being cosy.” 

You can replace the before and after dialogues with the specific situation you are going through. The idea is to replace your anxious thoughts with facts. 

You can try to arrange and filter your online environment. To do so, unfollow all the accounts that trigger you and stick to accounts that provide information or awareness. The shaft in your online pace can help you relax more. 

Maintain a gratitude journal. Focusing on what you have can help you shift your perspective. However, sometimes, it can be hard to think about what we have when we can see what we’re missing. 

Hence, allot a time daily to write one thing you’re grateful for in your life. Your entries can help you when you are feeling left out or overwhelmed. 

Getting a digital detox

Digital detox is a technique where you take a complete break from spending time online. A digital detox could include:

  • Uninstalling apps
  • Setting screen time and limites
  • Locking your apps
  • Avoiding screens all-day
  • Removing all the apps you don’t use anymore

Taking a digital detox can depend on your preferences and outcomes. If you prefer to spend all day without any screen time, uninstalling apps can be more helpful. 

On the other hand, if you simply want to declutter and make your online space more comfortable, you can remove all the apps you don’t need and organise your space. 

Below are some tips that can help you during digital detox:

  • Try to invite your friends over to your place or visit their home during your online detox. 
  • If this is your first time taking a break, set specific times to allow yourself to check your socials. 
  • Turn off all your notifications. If it is a workday, you can keep the notifications for your work apps. However, if it’s a weekend, try to avoid any ringtones or texts. 
  • When you take breaks during the detox to check your apps, try to be mindful of how much time you spend and what you do online. For example, spending your break replying to your friends would make more sense than checking your socials. 
  • During the detox, try to pick up new hobbies or catch up on the ones you are already into. 

Taking a successful digital detox depends on balance. Try not to cut everything off if it’s your first time. Take it slow, and you will eventually feel more relaxed and even look forward to your detox days!

Journaling

Journalling can be a form of self-care, for you to reconnect and better understand yourself.

Journaling is a very common hobby that a lot of people engage in. Journal can take several forms, such as:

  • Writing your thoughts
  • Planning for the day
  • Drawing
  • Bullet journaling
  • Sticking pictures
  • Creating a photo collage

When you start journaling, you will begin to spend less time on special media and spend more time:

  • Reflecting on your experiences
  • Changing your negative thought patterns
  • Become more grateful for what you have

Writing down your thoughts can also help you confront and acknowledge them. If you have FOMO about something, write it down. Research shows that giving your thoughts a physical form (ie words) can help overcome anxious thoughts. 

Over time, you will also learn to identify your triggers and find ways to overcome FOMO. 

Practising gratitude

You can practise gratitude even when you journal or take digital detox days. 

Firstly, you can start this technique by identifying and acknowledging your thoughts and feelings of FOMO. Tell yourself it is okay to want to hang out with everyone or go on vacation. Validate your need to socialise. 

Secondly, write down what you’re grateful for daily. Sipy listing just one small thing can be extremely helpful. For example, you can write that you are grateful to be with your family, you are grateful that you have friends who understand you, and so on. 

You can also call a friend, spend time with yourself, do self-care activities, and practise self-compassion during this method.



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