How to Chill Out: 3 Habits That Help Me

by Henrik Edberg

Image by notsogoodphotography (license).

.“If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.”
George F. Burns

One very helpful life skill is to be able to chill out. To be calm in negative situations and not overreact about all kinds of things. Or invent big, big problems in your mind – or create them in your world as you drag other people in through arguments – by making mountains out of molehills.

By being able to chill out when needed to you will:

  • Have a lot less stress, worry and pointless conflicts with other people.
  • Waste less of your time, energy and thoughts on things that aren’t really that useful.
  • Attract what you are. To be able to draw people who are more relaxed and positive about life into your life then you have to be that person yourself. People like to hang out with people who are similar to them (because it’s comfortable, because it brings more fun and success, because people have 24 hours in a day and so choices need to be made). Being someone that can be cool and relaxed about things is a positive and attractive social quality for any kind of relationship.

So how do you do it?

Well, here are three good habits that help me to chill out instead of overreacting and becoming angry, frustrated, fearful or worried about small and medium-sized stuff – and oftentimes even the big issues – in life.

Ask yourself if this even really matters.

By asking yourself the wrong questions you can make any little thing into a huge problem. By asking yourself better questions you can see things from a more helpful perspective.

  • Who cares? Very simple. Asking yourself this makes you realize that no, this isn’t a big deal to fuss or worry about.
  • Will this matter 5 years from now? Or even 5 weeks from now? One of my absolute favorite question combos. It is very useful in many situations and is often all I need to change my mood and mind. If you ask yourself these questions you will discover that if you put something into a more healthy perspective then few things matter that much.

Get a life.

I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago when I wrote about how to not let your smart phone take over your attention and life. It’s a tip and habit that works well to help you respond in a more relaxed way to various situations too.

Because if you find yourself sitting around too much and not having enough to do then it’s very easy to get stuck in negative thought loops and go into a downward spiral. Simply by filling life with more fun activities and people I have found that I have become a lot more relaxed and less prone to overreacting about the little things.

I have found that when you have good and exciting things going on then you don’t magnify small things to create drama in your life. Because you have very little time to do so and you have more important and fun things to do so issues tend to retain their correct size rather than growing into mountains.

So spend less time analyzing life and more time living and exploring it in whatever way you’d like. By doing so you are also often confronted with having to expand your comfort zone and perhaps face a fear. This leads to better self-confidence and less fretting about if you can handle things that may come up.

What would someone else do?

This is a good way to find a new, more useful and sometimes more playful perspective. You simply ask yourself what someone else would do in your situation.

Maybe you ask yourself:

  • What would Winnie the Pooh do?
  • What would James Bond do?
  • What would mom or dad do?
  • What would [insert name of your calm and wise friend] do?

The point is to play around and find a new perspective and drag yourself out of your current negative, stressed and confused headspace and see things in another light. Just doing that can often help you to calm down, realize that this isn’t a huge deal and help you to think a bit outside of your own box and find a solution that you can apply.

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Lee-Anne April 6, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Thanks Henrik, for the sharing this valuable insight, in this appraochable forum. This is something comes up in conversation with my parents , who I love; however thay spend much energy on spinning scenarios that are not relevant. Even they who are approcahing 70, can learn from these wonderful tidbits!

Henrik Edberg April 10, 2012 at 10:43 am

Thank you! Yes, spending energy on spinning scenarios that are seldom very relevant is something I have also seen adult people of all ages do.

Tiffani April 6, 2012 at 6:23 pm

I love the part of “Get a life”…it’s SO true and while it’s funny to hear or say that phrase, it’s really true. Having fun, doing things, you are engaged with other people, rather than just a computer screen or the smartphone. Once you’re engaged, you feel a lot more positive about yourself and other things that you do. I have to remember that, thank you for reminding me.

Henrik Edberg April 10, 2012 at 10:23 am

You’re very welcome! :)

Dennis - selfhelpURLs April 7, 2012 at 4:38 am

What would someone else do?

I never thought and never done this before. Never know that by knowing what other people is doing will actually drag me out from negative zone. Will see what’s the results if I happen to try this. Thanks for the tips! :)


Henrik Edberg April 10, 2012 at 10:25 am

Yes, it’s a bit of an odd thing to do but often works really well to change my perspective and thoughts. I hope it will be useful for you too.

Tathata April 7, 2012 at 8:01 am

What a fantastic list! So well said!

So now my question is this… what do you do when you’re so chilled out that you don’t even care anymore, that nothing interests you, and nothing seems to have much importance?

Henrik Edberg April 7, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Thank you! As for your question, I don’t know the answer for that. I certainly haven’t reached such a place by using these tips. I have just become better at chilling out and focusing on the the most important things in my life. :)

Tathata April 7, 2012 at 11:47 pm

I have been thinking about it a lot.
I will post about it if I find something :)

Greg O'Donnell April 7, 2012 at 8:23 pm

The biggest impediment to leading a stress free life for most, is debt. People have focused on consuming to look successful versus going out and being successful.

Warren Buffet has said that the best investment you can make is in your self, via courses in ones field, more education etc.

We all need to go out and find a way to improve our lot by actually doing something versus trying to buy it at the store and show our friends.

There are opportunities today for everyone to improve with online training, ebooks, free books, podcasts, youtube, ehow etc.

The next step is to go out and try it, work at it, and improve.

Gregory O’Donnell

Henrik Edberg April 10, 2012 at 10:38 am

Good points, thank you for adding them!

Sean April 9, 2012 at 4:49 am

This sounds totally unrelated, but two things that improve my mood and make me wonder why I was stressed out about something the previous day or week is this: get enough sleep, and drink lots of water.

Henrik Edberg April 10, 2012 at 10:39 am

I totally agree about the sleep. When I do not get enough of it I tend to become more stressed about small things and I think more negative thoughts in general.

Marien Perez April 9, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Here’s what works for me:

Exercise. Ideally outdoors. Go for a run. Get on your bike. Go somewhere nice. If you can, go where you are surrounded by nature, it’s got a special soothing effect.

When you exercise you release endorphins. These are “feel good” chemicals that function as neurotransmitters. They are produced during exercise, but also when you eat spicy food. They resemble the opiates in their abilities enhance relaxation and a feeling of well-being.

Henrik Edberg April 10, 2012 at 10:40 am

Good tip, exercise is a great and very reliable way to release inner tensions and stress.

Kaia April 9, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Dear Henrik,

I’m writing this to tell you how grateful I am to have found this blog and to thank you so much for improving my life.

I ran across the blog by accident in November and since then my life has improved immensely. I renewed and tightened up my friendships, I gained a lot of new friends, I became ambitious and driven again after years of doing nothing and feeling pessimistic about my life, I realized that my old goals didn’t suit me so much anymore and discovered new ones, I became more productive and basically improved every aspect of my life a lot.

So, just dropping by to thank you a lot and tell you to keep up the good work! :)

Henrik Edberg April 10, 2012 at 10:22 am

Wow, that is just wonderful to hear. Thank you so much for sharing this, you really brightened up my very rainy morning here. :)

Chuck Bluestein April 9, 2012 at 10:11 pm

As far as needing something to do, people need a physical activity or exercise to stay healthy. One exercise that has the regular benefits of exercise and extra stress reducing benefits is yoga. It can be done any time at home or you can go to a studio do it.

Tylesha Juliano April 10, 2012 at 3:09 am

Fabulous insight! What is it that causes us to default to a negative mind set I wonder? We think the worst of situations and people with little to no information or thought. Hmm?

Rad April 10, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Lately, I’ve been trying to pull myself out of a downward spiral. Asking myself “will this matter in 5 years?” is something I’ve been doing coincidentally even before I stumbled upon this article. Thanks for these great tips!

The Furries @ The Happy Club April 11, 2012 at 2:25 pm

We also think that it is increadibly important (but oh so hard) to
JUST BE from time to time.

Humans seem to remember how to do it on vacations but at other times… Very few can, or give themselves time and opportunity to, JUST BE.

What do we mean by JUST BE?

To be able to sit, or lie, or whatever and do nothing in particulat but JUST BEING.

But, the more you train and do it, the easier it becomes.

So fight those ants in your pants human!

Jeff Tyun April 22, 2012 at 10:19 pm

As Mark Twain once said…
“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that. The really great make you feel that you too can become great.”
Positive people help you grasp your dreams. Negative people seize them from you. Positivity and optimism are contagious and unfortunately, so are negativity and pessimism. I used to work with a lot of people who have, to put it nicely, negative attitudes.
Everyday being around them I feel like I’ve aged and grown bitter to the world just by being around these people. These are the type of people that drag you down; I found it very difficult to maintain a positive and happy outlook when you’re enclosed by pessimists and people who look for the worst.
I actually wrote a full article on my blog , please feel free to check it out my other inspirational articles.

Beth Hughes May 2, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Thank you for your tips,after years of thinking the negitive i’m now slowly trying to bring in the positive to my life and just retraining myself and know it will take time so thank you again for your positive advice.

Muhammad Tahir May 10, 2012 at 6:51 am

I am a recent follower of your blog. Where was I before? Thank you, I also share your work with my friends and on my blog as well.

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