With so much doom and gloom on the news, not to mention the stresses and strains of everyday life, it’s easy to feel life’s a burden. Here’s how to lighten up
When was the last time you laughed — really laughed? When was the last time you were silly? If you can’t remember, you’re not alone.
And it’s no wonder you’re in danger of taking life too seriously. These days, we’re fed bad news almost 24/7, and constantly worry about things that may never happen. We get so caught up with our responsibilities, it can be hard to see the lighter side of life.
But if you have lost the ability to simply have fun, how can you rediscover it?
Chartered psychologist Dr Alan Redman says that one of the things that makes us take life too seriously is an overload of information.
He says: ‘All of us have a limited amount of mental space to worry about things, so when there is an increasing volume of “stuff” — whether it be news, world events or social media — there’s only so much thinking you can do.
‘The times we live in, with news access 24/7, can make us feel that we don’t have control, and therefore things can feel impossible to solve.
‘When you add in personal things, such as difficulties in relationships or work, or health problems, it can lead to a sense of powerlessness.’
So if you haven’t laughed in a while, what can you do?
Be more child-like
Children seem to laugh more and be so carefree. Where do adults go wrong?
Dr Alan says: ‘Children’s existence is much more in the moment. They’re not thinking far ahead, and they’re not thinking about the past.
‘Their focus is more on “right now”, and when you’re doing that, you’re far less likely to be worrying.’
Have a good support network
People who take life less seriously tend to have a good social support network.
Dr Alan says: ‘We find it in first responders who see grim and upsetting things.
‘But they are often in a team, and can dispel the tough things they see and do, through group humour.
‘Social support is a powerful vehicle, which can help you see the lighter side of a situation.’
If you feel overwhelmed or overloaded, just stop.
Dr Alan says: ‘Turn off news and social media, particularly before bed. We’re almost trained now to need a constant stream of information.
‘Instead, get outdoors — walk in the woods, listen to birdsong, look around and engage with your surroundings. It sounds simple, but it can help lower stress and blood pressure.’
Many people who try mindfulness find their quality of life improves.
Dr Alan says: ‘The brain likes focusing on one thing at a time. Also, try to sleep well — if you’re sleeping better you’ll have more thinking space the next day.’
Edited by Julie Cook