Do you suffer from FOMO?

GP, Dr Darren Green, spoke to Charlotte Kilbane (standing in for Pippa Hudson), about FOMO, the acronym for Fear of Missing Out. It's linked to feelings of fear and anxiety.

We all need to have a sense of belonging, says Dr green, and the explosion of social media has made this a difficult area to navigate. One of the behaviours on the rise, is people's constant need to engage with social media devices like cell phones and tablets.

A Harvard research study on 500 students showed they used their cell phones an average of 200 minutes a day - which means each person checked their phone 15 times per hour.

Dr green says fear of missing out, which is linked to a sense of belonging, is not just a psychological phenomenon. It has a clear neuro-scientific basis as well.

The addictive part of FOMO or social media, is the pleasure you get when you see a light flash on your phone that you just cannot ignore, or a sound that you hear.

Dr Darren Green, GP

Thee neurotransmitters in the brain result in a surge of chemicals like dopamine, and you get a pleasure response.

It's visual, it's auditory, it's sensory, and there is recognition.

Dr Darren Green, GP

And it is not just cell phones and social media, he says. it is that fear of missing out on The Party or The Outfit, The Song, or the arrival of The Guest...

So what are the affects of this behaviour?

Dr green says it often means you hang around longer, so eventually you will suffer from sleep deprivation. This in turn can lead to abusing substances like central nervous stimulants to keep you awake.

All of this puts your physical and emotional and psychological health at risk

Dr green says no one willfully chooses to become addicted to anything.

It occurs when the handbrake of your frontal lobes - the clever parts of your brain - are overridden by the pleasure you are receiving from whatever you are doing.

Dr Darren Green, GP

The more you engage in these behaviours, the more you need.

The stronger your exposure and the more multi sensory inputs you have, the stronger your addiction becomes.

Dr Darren Green, GP

So how do you put the brakes on...?

Dr Green says the first step is awareness that you haev a problem. Once you are aware that you have an obsession and it is intrusive, you can begin to work on reigning it in.

  1. Have dedicated times to use your devices, designated times to check email and log in.

  2. Prioritise the times you want to be present and mindful and actively engage with people around you.

  3. Come to an agreement to all turn phones on silent and face down for a period of time.

  4. Bright lights are detrimental to sleep, especially the lights on technological devices, so change your settings on phones when you go to bed.phone
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