‘It’s like I’m so laidback, I just get anxious about all the stuff I’m laidback about,’ one man next to me on a Tube carriage said recently.
‘Yeah, same, like everything then gets left to the last minute,’ his friend agreed.
Being laidback has its merits.
But when you’re laidback to such a degree it interferes with your life and brings on anxiety later down the line, there might be some work to do.
How can you be laidback and anxious?
Gail Marra, clinical hypnotherapist and author of Health Wealth & Hypnosis, says: ‘We all secretly envy those people who seem to take life in their stride and aren’t phased by anything. We wonder what it must be like to not have a care in the world.
‘The truth is, even those seemingly relaxed individuals can suffer from anxiety, which conflicts with their natural, easy-going personality.
‘Often, the root cause of this anxiety is the fear of things being out of their control.
‘Because the external personality conflicts with the internal challenges, this means that others often don’t see the struggles – whether it be social anxiety, performance anxiety or simply disorganisation.
‘This can leave the individual feeling isolated, misunderstood, and lonely, if they don’t speak up and ask for support.’
Gail says there is a tendency for this type of person to turn to alcohol or other recreational activities for a release, which won’t tackle the problem itself.
When does it become a problem?
Dr Elena Touroni, a consultant psychologist and co-founder of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic, tells us: ‘I would say we can become too laidback when we start to find that this quality interferes with our ability to manage our daily life.
‘For example, we’re so laidback that it starts to impact our performance at work, our relationships, responsibilities at home etc.
‘Life is about balance. Being able to relax and keep a cool head in challenging times is important. But we also don’t want to be so laidback that we underperform and miss out on reaching our potential.
‘Often being laidback like this correlates with an inability to see the long-term consequences of our actions.
‘We might, for example, keep putting something off. Although we may “get away with it” in the short-term, it’s likely to cause us underlying feelings of anxiety and impact our long-term sense of fulfilment and happiness.’
It’s great to not be stressed all the time, and there’s a way to utilise that for the better.
Tips for managing a laidback personality and anxiety
The key is to reduce the anxiety whilst maintaining the person’s naturally calm personality – because that’s a great thing on its own.
Avoid the stress later on
Dr Elena and Gail share their top tips.
- Identify what’s at the root of your avoidance and disorganisation. Are you afraid of failing? When did this attitude start? Once you know why you behave this way you can start taking steps to change it. Therapy can be a great place to start exploring what this is for you.
- Try separating your to-do list into immediate, medium and long-term tasks so that you can prioritise what’s important.
- Start meditating – mindfulness can help train the mind for greater focus. Instead of being pulled away by distractions, we learn how to pause and gently redirect ourselves towards behaving in a way that serves us longer term.
- Creating a plan in advance on how to tackle whatever can act as an anxiety trigger. For example, if disorganisation causes problems, then working out a system or timetable to ensure tasks are completed on time can help.
- Many people say that exercise helps them to focus their mind and enable them to get tasks done. Physical exercise floods the body with adrenaline and dopamine, awakening both the body and mind whilst helping to reduce anxiety
- It’s important to share frustration and concerns surrounding anxiety with trusted family members or friends. This lessens the need to mask the problem and opens up the opportunity to gain support, understanding and perhaps, valuable advice.
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