No one likes to be told they’re high strung. And it can make your blood boil when someone tells you to “just relax.”
But are they on to something?
Typically, when someone is described as “easy going,” it’s a good thing. It means they are a relaxing presence, and that they aren’t easily phased or stressed out. Who wouldn’t want to be like that?
Unfortunately, an easy going demeanor doesn’t come naturally to everyone. In fact, you may find that most people who are easy going actively worked to become that way.
Do you want to be more easy going and relaxed? In this article, I’ve broken down a few of the best strategies you can put into practice today to start cultivating this coveted personality trait.
What does it really mean to be easy going?
One of the tricky things about being easy going is that the word means different things to different people.
When you look at easy going definitions in the dictionary, you see a lot of the same words: relaxed, casual, calm, unworried, tolerant. You may also see a list of things that an easy going person is not; they wouldn’t be easily annoyed or agitated, nor would they be particularly strict.
These easy going definitions do a good job of capturing the essence of the word. But unfortunately, modern usage of the term “easy going” has gotten a little mixed up. In fact, in some cases, people might mistake some seriously toxic personality traits as “easy going.”
So before we go any further, let’s go a little deeper and talk about some of the misconceptions around the true meaning of easy going.
Common misconceptions about truly easy going people
Myth #1: Easy going people are doormats
Being easy going does not mean you say yes to everything. In fact, if you aren’t able to draw boundaries and stop people from walking all over you, you’ll end up feeling resentful and burnt out. Neither of those traits will allow you to be easy going, so remember—even easy going people know where to draw the line and when to say no for their own mental well-being.
Myth #2: Easy going people aren’t reliable
Some people seem to confuse “easy going” with “flaky.” It’s true that an easy going person may be more relaxed about certain things—for example, they may not get upset if you’re 10 minutes late to a coffee date with them, nor will they get too stressed if they are running late themselves. But someone who is “spacey” takes this to a different level—they are so disconnected with the world around them that they are frequently forgetful or sometimes downright inconsiderate.
Here’s the truth: An easy going person can still be organized, punctual, and a strong communicator. In fact, all of these traits can make you even more easy going, because you won’t be stressed about forgetting things or missing important dates.
Myth #3: Easy going people are stoic and unfeeling
It’s easy to conflate “easy going” with “emotionless”—especially if you watch enough movies or TV. Society loves to portray the idea that cool, calm, and collected people are able to completely shut out their emotions, but that notion is complete fiction.
An easy going person will know how to manage their emotions appropriately. They will have healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with stress and anxiety, and they’ll have a support network to help them cope when the going gets tough.
Myth #4: Easy going people are quiet and boring
There are certainly quiet, reflective, introverted people who are easy going. But there are also outgoing, loud, spontaneous, and adventurous people who fit the description.
Easy going means you don’t sweat the small stuff, and that you don’t let little things blow up into unnecessary drama. And despite what reality TV might have you believe, a lack of drama does not equate to a boring life.
What are the benefits of being easy going?
Now that we know what being easy going really means, and what it does not mean, let’s explore why you might want to work on being a more relaxed, chill person.
How can being easy going make your life better?
A life with less anxiety is a happier life
Anxiety is one of those things that no one enjoys, but everyone will have to deal with at some point in their life.
The biggest advantage to being easy going is that unnecessary anxieties are reduced to a minimum. You won’t be as likely to grow frustrated when someone cuts you off in traffic. Easy going people probably won’t dwell as much on that embarrassing thing they did a year ago, or spend time worrying about what people think of them in a social situation.
Being easy going makes it easier to focus on what matters
As you learn to reduce your anxiety around the “small stuff,” you’ll find that it opens you up to being able to focus on things that really matter. Since you’re not worrying about that weird thing your boss said last week or whether anyone noticed your bad hair day, you can put energy toward working on yourself—picking up new hobbies, taking care of your mind and body, or strengthening your relationships.
People see you as reliable and consistent
Hopefully, the reason you want to be more easy going is to improve your own life. But developing this personality trait can also have a knock-on effect on how people perceive you. Easy going people are typically seen as reliable; people trust them, because you can rest assured they won’t fly off the handle or do something completely unexpected.
People like people who are easy going. Finding ways to be more relaxed and roll with the punches could help strengthen the relationships you have, and perhaps even make it easier to find friends as an adult.
How to become more easy going and less high strung
So, you get the benefits of being easy going. Now how do you actually start becoming more easy going? It will take time, but here are some practical things you can start doing to become a more relaxed person over time.
1. Take time to figure out what is making you high strung
This is by far the most important action you can take on this list. To become easy going, you must first discover what it is that’s keeping you from feeling relaxed.
Anxiety is one of the most common issues among adults in the US, and it can be caused by any number of things. Work, relationships, and big life events like weddings or moving, can all cause anxiety. In some cases, anxiety is purley situational, and once your stressful situation improves, the anxiety will ease.
If your anxiety isn’t from a temporary situation, though, it may need a little more work before it begins to ease. If you’re struggling to pinpoint the cause of your anxiety, consider calling on the help of a professional. A mental health counselor can spend time with you to discover the source of your anxiety and provide you with strategies or treatments to alleviate the problem.
We have some resources here that may be helpful as well. These articles help address some of the most common sources of anxiety for young adults:
2. Take care of your mind and body
I’m sure you’ve heard this before, so I won’t dwell on it too long, but the fact remains—if you aren’t taking good care of your body and mind, it’s going to be next to impossible to become easy going.
Anxiety and sleep have an interesting relationship. According to the Sleep Foundation, going without enough sleep is likely to cause issues with anxiety and worry. And on the flip side, when you’re anxious, it’s harder to sleep—starting a vicious cycle.
If you frequently find yourself cutting back on your hours of sleep, taking steps to fix that problem will help you become more easy going. This may mean going to bed earlier or sleeping in later when you can, or doing some relaxation and meditation to help you prepare for sleep.
The same goes for the things you’re putting into your body. It’s impossible to feel fully relaxed if you haven’t eaten enough, or have eaten things that don’t make you feel great. Staying hydrated will also work wonders. These are small, simple things you can do to help you feel your best, and when you do, you’ll find it’s much easier to manage your anxiety and start to feel more relaxed.
3. Don’t bottle up your emotions
This may sound strange, but to become more easy going, you also need to become more emotional. Or at least, you need to find a way to become more in touch with your emotions and true feelings.
This is a lot easier said than done, especially if you haven’t spent much time actively thinking about how you manage your emotions. But if you aren’t able to express yourself in ways that are healthy and productive, then eventually your emotions will find their own way out. This could look like angry outbursts or general irritability—and those traits are definitely not part of the easy going repertoire.
Once again, a mental health counselor can go a long way toward helping you discover methods for managing your emotions appropriately. You can also look into mindfulness, a practice designed to help you become more aware of your own self. Healthline has a great list of mindfulness apps to get started, if you’re interested.
4. Cultivate a positive outlook
It can be easy to walk through life with a pessimistic viewpoint. Many people subscribe to the idea that being pessimistic means you’re never disappointed when things don’t turn out how you want.
While pessimism can be healthy sometimes, it can also lead to you having an overall negative outlook on life. And excessive negativity will keep you from achieving your goal of becoming easy going and relaxed.
I am not saying you need to be chipper and always looking for a silver lining. In fact, toxic positivity can also hold you back from being easy going. But allowing yourself to be more positive in general will likely help you feel more relaxed.
Once again, mindfulness is your friend here. When you find yourself feeling particularly pessimistic or irritable, pause and take a step back. Take a few deep breaths and ask yourself, “Why am I feeling this way?” Consider writing down a list of positive things that you are grateful for every day, and when things are really starting to bum you out, find a way to take time for yourself and do something you truly enjoy.
Eventually, if you practice mindful awareness and self care, you’ll find that you naturally become more positive and easy going.
5. Surround yourself with positive people (and ditch the toxicity)
And that’s how it should be! So far all of my tips have focused on self-reflective strategies, but let’s face it—it’s hard to be easy going if you are constantly dealing with negative, high-strung, or anxiety-inducing people.
Start by thinking about the people in your life who may be causing you anxiety and stress. Of course, relationships always have their ups and downs, but if you find someone is consistently bringing you negativity, it may be time to consider changing your relationship with them.
You don’t have to cut toxic people out of your life entirely. In some cases, this may be impossible if there are toxic behaviors within your family or colleagues. But you can at least try to limit your contact with them, or consider drawing boundaries that will keep their negativity away from you.
For example, let’s say you have a colleague who always likes to gossip and spread rumors, and you realize their behavior is causing you a lot of stress. The next time they try to throw shade about someone in the office, you can politely but firmly say, “I’ve decided I don’t really want to talk about people who aren’t in the room.” They may act shocked or offended when you do this, but stand your ground. Setting healthy boundaries can be challenging, but they help you reduce anxiety and become more chill in the long run.
6. Step outside your comfort zone and try new things
For my last tip on how to be more easy going, I’ve got something fun: Try something new. You can start small, by tasting a unique food or visiting a different part of your town. Or you can go big—finally sign up for that skydiving course, or rent a car and take that solo cross-country road trip.
Being adventurous and open-minded to new experiences will help you become more easy going. Remember that positivity is one of the best ways to be more relaxed; if you have an open mind about things that are unfamiliar to you, you’ll avoid falling back on negative perceptions and assumptions.
Think about the easy going people you know. They are the kinds of people who aren’t likely to fuss about trying something new or doing something out of the ordinary. Instead, they keep an open mind—because that’s what being easy going is all about.
Remember, above all else, being easy going is about reducing the amount of anxiety in your life. It can take some hard work and it won’t happen overnight, but if you’ve made it this far in the article, you’re already on your way.