How To Lighten Up & Stop Taking Everything So Seriously

How To Lighten Up & Stop Taking Everything So Seriously ©iStock/mapodile

Here’s something mad to consider: even when things in life are serious, they can generally be handled better by not taking them so seriously. Wild. That’s not to say that there aren’t difficult problems that arise and will test your strength and patience, but regardless of what you’re up against, you need to take a deep breath. It’s time to let go of our need to cling to the dramatic woe is me vibe and just lighten up a bit. Easier said than done, of course, but here are some tips.

  1. Think about the worst case scenario. No, really, usually it’s not as bad as you think. Say you’re stressing about making rent on time – the real worst case scenario is probably borrowing some money from the ‘rents, not getting kicked out onto the streets and losing your entire livelihood by the second of the month.
  2. Smile more. So cheesy, I know, but science has proven that smiling about nothing can boost your mood, so you might as well do it. Smile at yourself every time you look in the mirror if smiling at every stranger you pass is too much for you.
  3. Look for the humor in the crappy stuff. You can either get super angry that you’re stuck in traffic, or you can think about how bizarre it is that thousands of people around you are also just sitting there stuck in their cars and one lady even got out of her car to sunbathe on the roof of hers. It’s totally weird.
  4. Be in the moment. Don’t let tomorrow’s to-do list take over your brain during your happy hour gathering today. Fun things are supposed to be fun.
  5. Get stuff done. How much time do we spend worrying about things that we can actually handle? Pay your bills, call your dad back, take your vitamins, and start that work project today instead of the night before it’s due. Once it’s done, there’s no way you can worry about it.
  6. Don’t take on other people’s problems. Be there for your friends, of course, but don’t internalize their stress. They come to you because they need a sounding board and some solid ground, not another stress case.
  7. Stop watching the news. Or stop watching it so closely, anyway. Of course there’s stuff you need to know about the world, but the most recent real-life horror story five states over might not be one of them.
  8. Keep your perspective. Your maid of honor duties might be driving you nuts but think a little broader here – your friend has been waiting for this celebration of love her entire life and you’ve been asked to be one the most important people in it. That’s a good thing!
  9. Give up perfectionism. That pound you gained this week is 100 percent not visible to anyone else, and even if it was, it’s not their business. When you ease up on the ridiculous amounts of pressure you put on yourself, you might find that you naturally do your best at everything, anyway.
  10. Spend some time outside. There’s nothing like being awed by nature to realize that you’re not the center of the universe or anywhere close to it.
  11. Take care of your body. Anxiety flourishes in inflamed, overfed, under-slept, overworked bodies. Turn around unhealthy habits one by one and notice how things magically start to get easier.
  12. Stop trying to please everyone. It’s literally (literally) impossible to please everyone, so don’t even start. If you’re being a nice person and doing your personal best as much as you can, that’s pretty much all that you can do.
  13. Reflect on where you’ve come from. Many of the things you have today were merely your dreams at one point, so let that sink in for a minute before you go cursing the injustices of the world. To your 13-year-old self, you’re a huge success.
Kate Ferguson is a Los Angeles local and freelance writer for a variety of blog and magazine genres. When she's not writing, the UC Davis graduate is focused on pursuits of the entertainment industry, spin class, and hot sauce. Look for article links, updates, (and the occasional joke) on Twitter @KateFerg or @WriterKateFerg, or check out her personal blog