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Is JOMO the New FOMO—Or Are We All Just Depressed?

Dr Jessica Yu

Written by Jessica Yu, Ph.D.

Published 12/08/2023

It’s the most wonderful—and stressful—time of the year. For many, the holiday season brings pressure to eagerly engage in all things festive, whether that be decorating our homes, baking cookies for our neighbors, heading to the skating rink, or finding the right festive wear to don for the many holiday parties we’ve been invited to. 

Truthfully, we do these things because we find delight in them, but also because we have FOMO, fear of missing out. When we hear our family and friends talk about all of the festive fun they’re having, or when we see their jolly moments go up on Instagram, we feel compelled to partake in and document our own special moments.

But all of the FOMO can take a toll on our mental and physical health. Research on FOMO has found that it is associated with mental health concerns such as depression, problematic substance use, and feelings of loneliness, as well as physical health concerns such as poor sleep and eating habits.

This research, as well as the fact that I am an introvert who struggles with FOMO-related burnout around this time of year, is what makes the concept of JOMO (joy of missing out) so alluring.

JOMO, which is being talked about all over social media, is the opposite of FOMO. It is about intentionally missing out, embracing solitude, and being far from the center of activity. It is about saying “no” more often and reveling in peace and quiet. And it can be just as exhilarating as being part of the action.

For those who become overwhelmed by all of the to-dos and invitations that come our way during the holidays, JOMO can be a great and healthy coping mechanism. It can help us be more thoughtful about the time we have and how we want to spend it.

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It can help us practice mindfulness as it enables us to spend less time moving from one thing to another and more time in the present moment. And it can give us the time we need to rest our minds and bodies.

But you might be wondering, is too much JOMO a bad thing? And the answer is, it can be, especially if JOMO comes from a place of anxiety, sadness, apathy, or low motivation. 

For example, if you struggle with social anxiety and want to say “no” to a holiday party invitation because you’re worried about how you’ll look or sound to others, you might want to consider saying “yes.” Doing so will help you see that people aren’t out to criticize you as much as you think they are, and it may help you build your social confidence. 

Or, if you feel compelled to stay in and hide under the covers because you’re feeling low and unmotivated to go out, think about doing the opposite. When people feel depressed, they tend to do less. And when they do less, they tend to feel more depressed. Challenging yourself to do more is known as behavioral activation to psychologists, and can help short-circuit this vicious cycle.

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So, should you listen to your FOMO or your JOMO? Before gravitating toward either, take stock of how you’re doing. Are you feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or down?

Are you excited about partaking in whatever holiday event you’ve been invited to? Do you have more energy to give or could you benefit from some downtime? The answers to these types of questions can help you decide.

And whatever you do, look for some balance. Find the things that bring you energy, joy, and/or meaning, and do them. Reconsider the things that drain you, that you simply don’t have time for, or that you know you really won’t enjoy. Happy holidays! 

2 Sources

  1. Gupta, M., & Sharma, A. (2021). Fear of missing out: A brief overview of origin, theoretical underpinnings and relationship with mental health. World journal of clinical cases, 9(19), 4881–4889. https://doi.org/10.12998/wjcc.v9.i19.4881
  2. Society of Clinical Psychology. (2022). Diagnosis: Depression. Treatment: Behavioral Activation for Depression. Division 12. https://div12.org/treatment/behavioral-activation-for-depression/
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