Thanks to social media, today we face an ever-present highlight reel of other people's happy moments and successes. Understandably, this may leave you feeling sub-par. 

This cycle of compare-and-despair, known as Fear of Missing Out (or FOMO) is not only demoralizing, it's downright unhealthy. Studies suggest that overexposure to social media can have negative mental health effects. Now new research demonstrates it amplifies feelings of inadequacy, irritability, and anxiety related to FOMO. 

For entrepreneurs and small business owners, opportunity FOMO -- fear of missing out when it comes to career and professional development -- is especially toxic. Constantly  questioning and doubting elements of your work life can negatively impact your performance, your sense of job satisfaction, and your work-life happiness.

Just how bad is your comparison-itis? Psychologists have created a 10-item scale to measure the psychological impact of FOMO, "mainly assessing how individuals view themselves and their achievements, how they interact with others, and their level of anxiousness specifically related to their social media usage".

Writing for Psychology Today, Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne rounds up the questions so that you can rate yourself (for fun, this is not meant to diagnose or treat a mental health condition):

The FOMO Scale

1. I fear others have more rewarding experiences than me.

2. I fear my friends have more rewarding experiences than me.

3. I get worried when I find out my friends are having fun without me.

4. I get anxious when I don't know what my friends are up to.

5. It is important that I understand my friends ''in jokes''.

6. Sometimes, I wonder if I spend too much time keeping up with what is going on.

7. It bothers me when I miss an opportunity to meet up with friends.

8. When I have a good time it is important for me to share the details online (e.g. updating status).

9. When I miss out on a planned get-together it bothers me.

10. When I go on vacation, I continue to keep tabs on what my friends are doing.

The average score is two among a sample of 2,000 U.S. adults. Higher scores on the FOMO scale are linked to excessive social media use, suggesting it may be time to put down put your phone or consider a digital detox, researchers say. 

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Published on: Jan 2, 2018