User Reviewed

How to Be Laid Back

Three Methods:Relaxing in the MomentSimplifying Your LifeDeveloping Perspective

Many people wish they could be more laid back. If you're overstressed or overcommitted, you may wonder how other people can glide through life with ease. There are several steps you can take to reduce anxiety and adopt a more laid back perspective. Develop coping mechanisms to deal with stress when it occurs, work on simplifying your life, and try to change your perspective.

Method 1
Relaxing in the Moment

  1. Image titled Be Laid Back Step 1
    Take deep breaths. If you want to be more laid back, you need to learn how to cope with anxiety in the moment. If you struggle to stay calm under pressure, simply taking deep breaths can help you slow down, relax, and regroup.
    • Deep diaphragmatic breathing is a powerful means to reduce anxiety. Inhale through your nose, channeling your breath into your stomach. It can be helpful to place your hand on your stomach and make sure it rises when you take in air.[1]
    • Then, hold your breath for a count of four. Exhale through your mouth. While a fairly simple procedure, it's a good start to work towards a more laid back mindset.
  2. Image titled Be Laid Back Step 2
    Deconstruct anxious thoughts. Many times people who want to be more laid back suffer from chronic overthinking. If you're prone to anxious thoughts, take a second to deconstruct any negative thoughts you encounter. Pause when you're feeling anxious and ask yourself a series of questions.
    • What are you worrying about? Is this a realistic worry? Are the possible outcomes you're imagining likely to actually occur?[2]
    • Consider what, realistically, the worst possible outcome is. Is that outcome really insurmountable? Are there ways you could deal with this outcome that wouldn't be so bad?[3]
    • Is there any way you can prepare for what might happen? Is what you're seeing and believing actual truth or just your own perception?[4]
  3. Image titled Be Laid Back Step 3
    Focus on the present moment. Try to keep your thoughts in the present moment. People who are more laid back are able to occupy a single brain space at a time. When you start thinking ahead, and getting nervous or agitated, pause and try to return to the present.
    • It's perfectly okay to make plans and have to-do lists, but you should try to focus on one thing at a time. You might know you need to do the dishes after work, but try not to linger on the dreaded chore. Simply relax and do your job.
    • Mindfulness meditation is a form of meditation in which you focus on aspects of the present moment, such as your breath, your body's sensations, and your environment. Regularly practicing mindfulness meditation can help you stay in the present and feel more laid back overall. There are many free guided mindfulness meditation routines you can find online. These can help you get started with regular meditation.[5]
  4. Image titled Be Laid Back Step 4
    Use calming visualizations. Calming visualizations can also help you unwind in the moment. Picture yourself relaxing in a place you enjoy. Maybe you're resting your feet in the sand on the beach. You could be lying in a hammock in the woods. Try to imagine with all your sensations. How does it feel, taste, smell, sound? Going on a mental vacation to a safe, relaxing environment can help you stay calm under stress.[6]
  5. Image titled Be Laid Back Step 5
    Accept your thoughts are not reality. People who are laid back tend to avoid overthinking. Social interactions, plans, events, and other aspect of life are things they can maneuver with ease. If you're prone to overthinking, and convincing yourself something is wrong in any given situation, make an effort to change. Try to periodically remind yourself your thoughts are not necessarily a reflection of reality.
    • If you perceive something a certain way, you may start imagining your worldview or perspective represents truth. For example, say you made a comment at work you feel have rubbed a coworker the wrong way. You may go from wondering if you bothered your co-worker to imagining her sitting alone, thinking negative thoughts about you. This is not a particularly realistic scenario, but if you're anxiety-prone you may convince yourself your perception represents the reality.[7]
    • In such a scenario, remind yourself your thoughts are not reality. Your co-worker is probably not thinking poorly of you. Even if she was bothered by the comment, it's doubtful she is even still thinking about it. Your thoughts are, by nature, very centered around yourself and your own actions. Other people likely do not think about you as much as you think about yourself. Try to relax and remember this fact on occasion.[8]

Method 2
Simplifying Your Life

  1. Image titled Be Laid Back Step 6
    Prioritize what's important. You may struggle to feel laid back if you're overcommitted. Prioritizing what truly matters to you can help you simplify your life. This will reduce stress and may result in you having a more relaxed, laid back approach to life.
    • Consider how you spend most of your time. Try writing a list of everything you do during the course of a day and roughly how much time that all takes up. How much time are you spending doing what you want? Compare that to how much time you spend on errands, events, and other tasks you feel you have to do.[9]
    • Is there anything you could stand to do less? Are there any events or activities you pack into your life that aren't particularly fulfilling or personally important to you?[10]
    • It's perfectly okay to work at a pace that seems comfortable and reasonable for you. You may think you have to put in overtime hours each week to make more money, but are you really getting to enjoy that money? Try to spend your time more wisely, giving yourself space to rest and relax.[11]
  2. Image titled Be Laid Back Step 7
    Learn to say no. Many people who consider themselves high-strung or overstressed have trouble saying "No." It's important to remember that just because you can do something does not mean you have to do something. An important step to becoming laid back is accepting that it's okay to tell someone "No."
    • It's very difficult to be laid back if you have no time for yourself. Many people feel obligated to say yes when a friend asks a favor or when an organization needs volunteers. There's nothing wrong with wanting to help out, but before agreeing to something pause and ask yourself if you really have time. If you're already suffer from a lack of downtime, sometimes it's okay to give yourself some needed rest and relaxation.[12]
    • You'll actually find it's easier to accomplish things if you commit yourself to less. Needlessly packing your schedule means you're energy will be spread out across 10 different tasks. Instead, pick one or two tasks to focus on and do a really good job. The pressure to be perceived as successful often translates to feeling a need to be busy. Business does not equate success.[13]
    • For example, say your friend is going away with her boyfriend for the weekend. She asks you if you could stop in twice a day to feed her cat from Friday to Monday. You could do it, but it would mean sacrificing much of your own weekend as your friend lives across town. You have a fairly stressful job and weekends are important to you as it's a chance to unwind. Do not feel guilty about telling your friend "No." While you technically could look after her cat, you should not feel obligated to do so simply because you can. It's important for you to have time for yourself, to relax, rest, and have downtime. No one can truly be laid back if they're busy all the time.
  3. Image titled Be Laid Back Step 8
    Enjoy small pleasures. People who are laid back tend to be able to relax and unwind easily. However, when caught up in daily obligations and stress people often struggle to find pleasure and levity. If you open yourself up to embracing small pleasures, you'll find yourself feeling more laid back throughout the day.[14]
    • Try to count the simple pleasures you encounter each day. Begin when you get up in the morning. Even something small can provide great joy. For example, really take a moment to enjoy the taste and smell of your morning coffee. Appreciate the great song that's playing on your iPod on your morning commute.
    • Take time to indulge in pleasures. You might not have time to treat yourself to a lavish dinner out, but maybe make yourself a cocktail when eating at home. If you want to go on a hike this weekend but have a work commitment, take a half hour stroll around your neighborhood instead. Embracing pleasure throughout the day can help you feel more laid back.
  4. Image titled Be Laid Back Step 9
    Let go of your fear of missing out. Oftentimes, we pay a lot of attention to the lives of those around us on social media. This can lead to a fear of missing out. If you want to be more laid back, try to be content with yourself, your friends, your life, your job, and your own experiences.
    • Many people are online for the majority of their days. This fuels a lot of anxiety about missing out. If you're on your phone or your computer constantly, it's only natural you'll develop curiosity about what others are doing. Anxiety about missing out and comparing yourself with others is inevitable. This can lead to feeling high strung and feeling pressure to participate in certain social events or rituals.[15]
    • Make a conscious effort to disengage. This does not necessarily mean deleting your Facebook account and ditching your smart phone. Even short breaks from your phone or computer, about 10 minutes in length every few hours, can help reduce feelings of anxiety over missing out. Get off the computer every few hours and go for a walk with your phone turned off or in your pocket out of sight.[16]

Method 3
Developing Perspective

  1. Image titled Be Laid Back Step 10
    Stop being a perfectionist. Oftentimes, perfectionism is what makes feeling laid back difficult. If you're a perfectionist by nature, try to work against the tendency.
    • Periodically remind yourself no one expects you to be perfect. People will still like you if you make a mistake. Try to work to be less critical of yourself and avoid thinking of life in terms of either success or failure. Your accomplishments are not a reflection of your worth as a person and many perceives failures are only minor setbacks.[17]
    • Perfectionists often have a tendency to compare themselves to others, feeling that they're falling behind or that they have more flaws than others. If you catch yourself comparing yourself to another person, stop. It may be difficult at first so you might have to do something to distract yourself. Go for a walk, for example, or watch something on TV.[18]
    • Try to do a little less each day. This might feel awkward or uncomfortable at first, but you'll be taking a tremendous amount of pressure off yourself longterm. Start small. For example, cut 5 minutes off your daily run or take a little longer at lunch during work.[19]
  2. Image titled Be Laid Back Step 11
    Process your thoughts before reacting. When an event occurs, especially an event that's perceives as stressful, your first thought may be to react. This can lead to acting impulsively and saying or doing things that worsen the situation. Instead of reacting immediately to stress, pause to process. The vast majority of situations do not require an immediate responses. When you experience something stressful, give yourself a few hours to process before reacting. Do something relaxing, like reading a book or watching a movie, to take your mind off the stress before trying to deal with the situation.[20]
  3. Image titled Be Laid Back Step 12
    Accept what you can and cannot control. It can be very difficult to let go of what is beyond your own control. However, if you want to be laid back it's important to be able to live with life's frustrations. Try to make a conscious effort to recognize when a situation is beyond your control and accept the fact.
    • Focus precisely on what you're concerned about in the present moment. For example, say you're stressed because your brother is coming into town. He can sometimes be difficult to get along with and tends to pick fights with other family members.
    • From there, figure out what you can control in the situation. In regards to your brother's visit, you can choose to disengage if he tries to bait you into an argument. You can try to be polite, even if he's being difficult. You cannot, however, reasonably control or change another person's behavior. Therefore, try to let go of any frustrating comments or behavior your brother makes. As you have very little control over it, it's best not to linger.[21]
  4. Image titled Be Laid Back Step 13
    Embrace downtime. It's important to embrace downtime. Downtimes is a necessity in life, not a luxury. You can't be expected to be a laid back person if you're always on the go. Make time in your schedule to spend an hour each day doing something you find relaxing. You could take a bath before bed each night, read a short story after work, watch a movie you've never seen before, or call a long distance friend. If you work at actively embrace downtime, and accept your need for it, you'll feel more laid back in your day-to-day life.
  5. Image titled Be Laid Back Step 14
    Seek therapy, if necessary. Some people struggle to feel laid back due to an underlying mental health condition. If you have an anxiety disorder or are depressed, it can be hard to cope on your own. If you consistently struggle to enjoy life's pleasures and can't let go of worrisome thoughts, make an appointment with a psychiatrist or counselor.
    • You can ask your regular doctor for a referral to a therapist. You can also call your insurance company and ask for a list of mental health providers in your area.
    • If you're a student, you may be entitled to free counseling through your college or university.

Sources and Citations

Show more... (18)

Article Info

Featured Article

Categories: Featured Articles | Eco Youth Styles | Facing Fears and Worries