Image Credit: Getty Images/ mixmike
Woman with MS reading a book and relaxing with coffee and ice cream - glad to be away from the hustle and bustle of a party.

Missing Out Because of MS? Turn FOMO into JOMO

Reading time | 4 mins

Many of us may have heard of FOMO, an acronym for ‘Fear Of Missing Out,’ but have you heard of JOMO? It’s something I came across on social media recently and it really summed up how I now see my life with MS. JOMO is the ‘Joy Of Missing Out.’

How does that work? What joy can there be in missing out? Well, rather than feeling constantly disappointed that I can’t do the things I used to be able to do, I’ve learned to accept it and find joy in doing something different instead. I’m talking about appreciating the smaller things in life.

Burning the candle at both ends

When I was diagnosed with relapsing MS at 28, I was working full-time, had a packed social life and was playing a high level of field hockey. For me, things didn’t change overnight. In fact, I went through a period where I was burning the candle at both ends because FOMO became such a big thing in my head.

I was saying yes to everything, not necessarily because I wanted to do it or thought I could manage it, but because I was scared about relapsing. What if I did and I wouldn’t be able to do these things tomorrow, next week, next month, etc.?

Obviously things came to a head. The nights out dancing were taking their toll, hockey matches were taking longer to recover from, trips to the theatre after finishing a full day of work were wiping me out. I was increasingly unable to fit more than one “thing” into a day.

Something had to change and I knew it had to be my mindset.

Balancing the bucket list

When I was first diagnosed I’d made a bucket list. It was a list of things that I’d always wanted to do and things that I’d been putting off. Most of the things on that list were ‘big’ things: snowboarding, walking the red carpet, learning a new language, creating a vegetable patch in the garden, eating at a Michelin-star restaurant, visiting the Alhambra Palace in Spain, trying out a new fitness class.... the list went on and on.

I realised that all of these things involved physical activity and big time commitment. While I like  thinking big, I realised that I also needed to learn to find joy in the smaller things. I needed to be able to say no to something if I couldn’t manage it, without feeling I was missing out and instead seeing it as an opportunity to do something different.

Today, I have a list of top 5 small things I love doing. If I have to say no to something because of MS, I know I can do one of these instead and still enjoy myself just as much – albeit in a different way.

1. Movie night at home

This might mean I won’t see a movie as soon as it comes out, but there are lots of bonuses when watching a film at home: I can take as many toilet breaks as I need (with MS-related bladder issues that’s always a bonus!), I can have whatever snacks I like, I can wear my comfy pyjamas, and if I drop off to sleep I can always hit the rewind button to catch up where I left off.

2. Taking walks in nature

There’s something about being out in nature that makes me feel happy and uplifted. Breathing in the fresh air and taking in the changing faces of the landscape – or even just people’s gardens – really grounds me. If you check out my Instagram, especially during the summer, you’ll often see me posting photos of flowers, animals and landscapes just because they’ve made me smile.

3. Sitting outside in the sunshine

This can be a bit difficult living in the UK, but when we do have sunny weather I like nothing better than sitting in my garden soaking up the warmth. Sometimes I’ll put on music or read a book. Other times I might just lie there making shapes out of the clouds. Sunlight also provides the added benefit of Vitamin D! What’s not to love?

4. Catching up with a friend on the phone

I’ll be honest: while I love meeting up with people in person, sometimes the thought of having to shower, get dressed (in something other than my pyjamas!) and slap on make-up is enough to make me feel tired before I even get there! Chatting on the phone means I don’t have to do any of that AND we can often spend longer catching up. If I don’t have the energy for a full-blown conversation in one go, I bounce voice messages with friends, which gives me smaller “nuggets of joy” to look forward to throughout the day.

5. Eating ice-cream

I love ice-cream. I’d quite happily eat it in place of actual meals if I thought I could get all my nutrients from it. Even so, we rarely make time to properly enjoy eating our favourite food. I mean taking half an hour out of your day to sit and savour every mouthful. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t do this EVERY time I eat ice-cream, but every so often I’ll make an event of it. Something that is planned and that I can look forward to.

The takeaway

Not everyone will find the same joy that I do in the things I’ve listed above. Different things work for different people after all. The important thing is that we all find some of these ‘smaller things’ in life that brings happiness. Why don’t you make your own list? Next time when your chronic condition prevents you from doing something big, enjoy one of the small things instead and turn FOMO into JOMO!

NPS-IE-NP-00202 February 2021