Perhaps you’ve heard the acronym FOMO before. It stands for the Fear Of Missing Out, and refers to the feeling of anxiety we experience when an interesting event may be happening that we are not part of, and is often aroused by posts seen on social media. Even if you haven’t heard of FOMO before, you may have felt it.

We’ve all used social media to distract ourselves when we’re bored or in an uncomfortable social setting. We often use social media to feel connected to others and “not alone” in those moments. But when we unplug, that feeling of connection can quickly go away, leaving us feeling more disconnected than before, and worse about ourselves or our lives.

Social interaction (online and off) can be vital to our mental health. Whether it’s a positive or negative impact is determined by how you use the platforms. Here are some tips on how you can find balance and develop healthy habits around your social media use.

  1. Set boundaries. Easier said than done but set some limits to how often you check social media and when you use it. Try putting your phone away from time to time to be fully present with family and friends, and not looking at your phone before you go to sleep or when you first wake up.
  2. Be intentional. Know why you are logging on (to check the time of the party, to see a friend’s vacation photos, to answer a text, to pass the time while waiting) and stick to that intention.
  3. Don’t compare. Seeing other people broadcast their successes and post magazine-perfect moments of their lives might make your daily life pale in comparison. Remember that these moments aren’t representative of someone’s whole life, and the person posting them is probably struggling with a lot of the same things you are. Instead of comparing lives, look for ways you can get inspired by others.
  4. Take care of you. If you’re feeling down, or catch yourself aimlessly scrolling away, ask: Does this feel good? If no, set your phone aside. If getting notifications is stressing you out, try disabling them so you only see alerts when you sign in manually.

If your online interactions are causing you stress, don’t wait to get help. Your doctor can help you find resources to reduce your stress.

PPO plan participants can also take advantage of phone-based Health Coaching.