Are you tired of feeling like a tightly wound spring, ready to snap at the slightest opportunity?
Do you envy those carefree people who seem to breeze through life without a care in the world?
Do your friends or colleagues regularly tell you to “loosen up” or describe you as being “uptight?”
In today’s fast-paced, chaotic world, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Our jobs and personal lives are constantly pushing us to do more, be more, and achieve more. On top of the tremendous amounts of pressure we already feel, there is a lot of turmoil happening all over the world in rapid succession.
Every corner of the earth seems to be experiencing one calamity or another. Tensions are at an all-time high. Everyone is on edge. We’re wound tight, just bracing for what’s going to happen next.
We have many reasons to feel uptight or on edge. However, living in a constant state of tension and anxiety is not only unpleasant, it is also detrimental to our health and well-being.
If you feel anxious or tense in situations where other people seem calm and collected, keep reading for tips on how to be less uptight and more relaxed in your daily life.
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What does it mean to be uptight?
Someone who is described as “being uptight” is typically excessively anxious, tense, and rigid in their thinking and behavior. They struggle to relax or loosen up, usually out of fear of losing control. An uptight person is also overly critical (of others and themselves) and has perfectionist tendencies.
They can have difficulty handling change or unexpected events. Uptight people try to plan and organize everything in advance to avoid any potential surprises. Often they have trouble with social situations and feel uncomfortable in unfamiliar settings or with new people.
There are some common attributes that uptight people tend to share. They often:
- lack flexibility or adaptability
- overanalyze or ruminate on minor details
- have difficulty relaxing or enjoying leisure time
- fear making mistakes
- take things too seriously
- experience high levels of stress and anxiety
- feel irritated and annoyed
- have unexplained physical issues (headaches, back/shoulder pain, skin issues, high blood pressure, etc.)
Ultimately, the characteristics of an uptight person revolve around their fear of uncertainty, their need for control, and their deep insecurities. Because of these issues, they can’t relax. They are alert at all times, guarding against uncertainty and chaos.
Why am I so uptight?
You probably have one, some, or many of the characteristics listed above if you’ve ever been described as being “wound tight” or “uptight.” And if you’re like most uptight people, you’re likely struggling with the description and wondering why you are that way.
What changed you from the carefree person you were before? What’s got you so wound up that you just can’t relax?
There could be many reasons you’re uptight. It could be the result of your genetics. Research has shown that certain personality traits, such as neuroticism (a personality trait where people experience negative emotions more quickly than others), can be inherited.
You might be uptight because you were exposed to societal pressures that value productivity and perfectionism. This has led you to feel as though you always need to be “on” and performing at your best.
It may be a learned behavior passed down from your parents or other influential figures in your life. Did you grow up in an environment that placed a high value on achievement?
Perhaps you experienced some childhood trauma or bullying that left you feeling unsafe or vulnerable. This may have contributed to your need to control your surroundings, in a bid to cope with your past trauma.
Being uptight can be a symptom of an underlying mental health condition, such as anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or depression. Current stressors, such as work pressures, relationship problems, or financial stress, can also cause you to be uptight.
As you can see, being uptight is something that can be learned or inherited. It’s a behavior that we can acquire in childhood or adulthood. And it’s something that can happen to anyone.
17 Ways To Be Less Uptight
Luckily, being uptight is not a permanent state of mind. There are steps you can take to break free from this pattern of behavior and live a more relaxed, enjoyable life.
If you’re tired of feeling uptight and want to learn how to be less high strung, you’ve come to the right place. Below, we explore the tips and techniques you can use to loosen up and live life to the fullest.
1. Learn to take a joke.
Taking a joke is a challenge when you’re uptight. Jokes can feel like a personal attack or make you feel embarrassed or uncomfortable. However, learning to take a joke is a valuable skill. It can help you to develop meaningful relationships, lighten up, and reduce your stress.
If you are someone who struggles with taking a joke, recognize that jokes are not supposed to be taken seriously. Try to find the humor in the joke and learn to laugh at yourself. Learn to appreciate the lighter side of life.
Don’t see laughing at jokes as a waste of time. It can have a big impact on your mood and well-being. When you laugh, your body releases endorphins, which help your body regulate your blood pressure and fight off stress hormones.
Learning to take a joke will take time and effort. But with practice, you can learn how to see the humor in jokes and life.
2. Relax your need for control.
An area people who are uptight struggle with is their need to control themselves, situations, and others. But because life is largely out of our control, this leads to feelings of stress, frustration, and tension. All of which negatively impact our mental and physical health.
Therefore, learning how to stop trying to control everything will lead to a more relaxed and fulfilling life.
To relax your need for control, recognize that not everything can be controlled or planned. Identify areas where you tend to be controlling and try to loosen up. If you are controlling at work, practice delegating some of your responsibilities. Try trusting your colleagues to make decisions.
Challenge negative thoughts that contribute to your controlling behavior. And try to adopt a more positive, flexible mindset by accepting that letting go of control can lead to a more positive outcome than what you could have imagined.
Finally, take time to relax and enjoy the present moment. Stop worrying about what might happen in the future. Enjoy what’s happening now.
3. Embrace uncertainty.
For uptight people, uncertainty can be a big source of stress and anxiety. After all, it’s why they try so hard to control themselves, other people, and situations. They’re trying to reduce the consequences that come from the unknown.
However, embracing uncertainty can lead to personal growth, increased creativity, and a more fulfilling life.
As an uptight person, one thing you need to realize is that uncertainty is a natural part of life. Nothing stays the same forever. You can’t predict the future, nor guard against change. Sometimes, uncertainty can lead to positive outcomes that you would have never predicted.
Since you can’t fight against uncertainty, you need to embrace it. To do this, you must learn how to deal with the unknown. You need to be willing to step outside your comfort zone. Try new experiences. Learn to take risks.
You could start small by trying a new hobby that you never would have considered before. Do something that helps you let go of the need for certainty and control. Try something that forces you to trust that things will work out in the end.
Focus on the present moment, instead of worrying about what might happen in the future. With time and practice, you can learn to embrace uncertainty and lead a more fulfilling life.
4. Relax your standards.
We all know that high standards are hard to achieve. Sometimes, they give us the motivation to try harder. But for the most part, they lead to feelings of stress and frustration, especially when the standards are unattainable or unrealistic.
We constantly feel disappointed when we or other people fail to meet our high standards. This causes us to lash out or beat ourselves up. It negatively affects our mental health and our relationships.
Learning how to relax those high standards is essential for uptight people who want to lead a more relaxed and fulfilling life. The first step is to recognize that perfection is unattainable and that making mistakes is a natural part of life.
Then try to adopt a more flexible and realistic mindset. Accept that people are human beings trying to do their best, yourself included. Focus on their progress and not on their inability to reach perfection.
With that mindset, don’t be too hard on yourself or others. Practice being kind. Take time to relax and enjoy life, instead of constantly striving for an unattainable ideal.
5. Just relax.
For many uptight people, the idea of simply relaxing can be challenging. It can feel as if they’re wasting time or money. They probably have 101 things on their to-do list. There’s no free time to lie around.
Self-care? That’s for wimps or people who’ve got money to waste, in their opinion. They’d rather get things done.
Practicing self-care is essential for maintaining good mental and physical health. Self-care also helps to reduce stress and anxiety.
You need to accept that taking time for yourself is not a waste of time or money. With all your responsibilities, and the way you run around, you deserve rest and self-care. Taking care of yourself is an investment in your well-being. It can help you be more productive and effective in different areas of your life.
The best part of rest, relaxation, and self-care is that it can be as short or long as you want it to be. It can also be as cheap or expensive as your budget allows. The main thing is to do what you need to to take care of your mental and physical well-being.
One way to start is to identify activities that you enjoy, such as reading, taking a bath, or going for a walk. You could try relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga to help you unwind and better manage your stress level.
Then make time in your schedule, and set boundaries with work and other obligations to ensure that you prioritize self-care. Put them as appointments in your calendar, if you need to. Just make sure nothing short of an emergency stops you from taking time out for yourself.
Self-care looks different for everyone. Find what works for you. Learn to prioritize self-care and lead a more relaxed and fulfilling life.
6. Take a break.
Sometimes you need a break. You can’t just keep pushing through stressful situations. You may need to take a step back from some people because they’re problematic or toxic.
When you’re in a stressful situation or dealing with problematic people, it’s important to take a break and give yourself time to decompress. Taking a break can help you reduce stress, anxiety, and tension. It can help you regain focus and clarity.
You could take a break by going outside and getting some fresh air. A change of scenery is often incredibly helpful in clearing your mind and reducing stress.
Another option is to do some light exercises to get your heart rate up. You could try running in place or doing some pushups for 30 seconds. This burst of physical activity can help to release tension and give you a sense of relief.
Taking a break is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength and self-awareness.
7. Get regular sleep.
Often we underestimate how important sleep is to our physical and mental health. Even when we know that we get cranky and are less productive when we’re not well-rested.
Have you ever considered that a lack of adequate or quality sleep might be making you uptight? When you’re not rested, you have less patience to deal with the unexpected. You’re unable to handle uncertainty. People need to act exactly the way you think they should because you’re too tired to handle any sort of deviation.
If you know you’ve not been getting enough sleep, and you’ve been described as uptight, you not only need to increase the number of hours you sleep but also the quality of your sleep. Try establishing a regular sleep schedule, where you go to bed at the same time every night, even on the weekends.
Take it a step further by creating a relaxing bedtime routine, so you look forward to unwinding for bed. Make your bedroom conducive to sleep. Invest in a quality mattress, good pillows, and bedsheets. Limit your exposure to screens before bedtime. Also, avoid caffeine and alcohol in the afternoon and evening.
Quality sleep is essential for recharging your body and mind, reducing stress and anxiety, and improving overall health and well-being.
8. Exercise regularly.
Regular exercise is not just good for people who are trying to lose weight or get healthy. It’s also beneficial for maintaining good mental health. Uptight people will find that it helps them manage and deal with stress and anxiety.
Exercise helps reduce tension and improve overall mood because endorphins, serotonin, and norphenylephrine are released in your brain when you exercise. They are your body’s natural mood boosters, helping relieve pain, reduce stress, and improve your sense of well-being.
While 30-60 minutes of intense exercise is best to reap the benefits of those mood-boosting neurotransmitters, uptight people can also benefit from relaxing exercises, such as yoga. With yoga, you’re not just stretching your body, you’re also incorporating deep breathing exercises.
Regular exercise can help increase self-confidence and self-esteem. It also helps to provide a sense of control in one’s life, which uptight people desperately want.
9. Declutter your life.
Decluttering your space, including your house, workspace, and life can have significant benefits for uptight people. Getting rid of things that no longer serve you physically, mentally, or emotionally can help to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, finding it difficult to focus, or feeling unusually under pressure, look around your environment. Clutter might be contributing to your negative feelings.
Studies have shown that decluttering can lead to significant improvements in mental well-being, including reduced stress levels and increased feelings of productivity and overall well-being.
A study by the UCLA Center on Everyday Lives and Families found that women who described their homes as cluttered had higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, than those who described their homes as restful.
By simplifying and decluttering your physical space and life, you can create a more peaceful and balanced environment and experience a greater sense of calm and control in your life.
10. Learn how to laugh.
Finding humor in life is incredibly important for everyone. But it’s especially important for uptight people because they are so serious about everything.
Laughter is a natural stress reliever. Research even shows that laughter has significant benefits for mental health.
A study found that laughter therapy was effective in reducing anxiety and depression in elderly patients. Another study found that laughter yoga had a positive effect on students’ general health, improved the signs of physical and sleep disorders, lowered anxiety and depression, and promoted social function.
Look for ways to incorporate more laughter into your life. You could try watching comedies, spending time with friends and family, or checking out some laughter yoga.
Even if it doesn’t make you less uptight, spending the evening laughing will inevitably improve your mental health and reduce your stress.
11. Try something new every week.
One of the characteristics of an uptight person is their need for control. They need to always be in control of themselves, other people, and situations. Trying something new every week can be incredibly useful to help them get used to not being in control.
When you try something new, you step out of your comfort zone. It helps you to embrace uncertainty and the unknown. You learn how to adapt to change. And it’s all because you’re opening yourself up to experiences.
A positive aspect of trying something new is that it can give you a sense of excitement and novelty, which can boost your mood and reduce your stress levels.
Start incorporating new experiences into your life by making a list of new things you want to try. It doesn’t need to be big or life-changing. It can be as small as trying a new flavor of coffee or an alternative route to work. Build up to experiences that are a little more uncomfortable.
Then set aside time in your schedule to do the activity. You can also ask friends or family to join you in your new experiences. It will allow you to bond with each other.
Incorporating new experiences into your life can help you learn to let go of your need for control and find joy in the unexpected.
Journaling is a powerful tool for anyone, whether you’re uptight or not. By writing down your thoughts and feelings, you can gain a better awareness of your actions and behaviors. It can help you identify patterns and potential triggers for your stress and anxiety.
For uptight people, journaling can help them see how their behavior is affecting them, physically and mentally, and how it’s affecting their relationships. People who are wound tight can use journaling to process their emotions so they can work through difficult situations. This will give them a sense of catharsis and closure.
Additionally, journaling gives uptight people a space to explore their values and beliefs. They can figure out if the situation they’re obsessing over is really worth the attention and energy they’re putting into it. A gratitude journal can help them see all the things in their life they have to be grateful for.
Making a habit of journaling regularly can help uptight people gain valuable insights into their thought processes and behaviors. This will enable them to make positive changes and improve their mental well-being.
Deep breathing exercises can be an effective way for uptight people to relax and better manage stress when they are under pressure. Focusing on taking slow, deep breaths helps slow your heart rate and reduces feelings of anxiety and tension.
Deep breathing exercises can also help you clear your mind and focus on the present moment. When you’re focusing on the present, you can’t regret the past or worry about the future.
Additionally, deep breathing exercises can help improve your overall physical health. When done regularly, you can promote better circulation, reduce inflammation, and lower your blood pressure. With regular practice, deep breathing exercises can help you feel calm and in control.
14. Hang out with easygoing people.
Spending time with easygoing people is a neat trick uptight people can use to learn how to relax and let go of their need for control. By seeing how these individuals navigate life’s challenges without taking things too seriously, uptight people can learn how to do so, too.
The experience will give them a better perspective on their own stress and anxiety. And they may develop some coping skills along the way.
Hanging out with easygoing people can also help uptight people build their social skills and confidence. As they learn to relax and enjoy the company of others, they stop worrying about perfection or being in complete control.
Being around people who are naturally relaxed and carefree can help uptight people cultivate a more positive outlook on life. It can assist them in recognizing that even when things don’t go according to plan, everything can still work out just fine in the end.
15. Embrace mistakes.
It’s important to remember that everyone makes mistakes—it’s part of the human experience. As such, embracing mistakes is an important lesson that everyone should learn. Especially people who are uptight.
Rather than feeling shame or frustration over a mistake, uptight people need to strive to embrace it. They should see the process of making a mistake as an opportunity for growth and learning. By understanding their mistakes, they can understand their weaknesses and areas that need improvement.
When uptight people learn from their mistakes, they become more resilient and better equipped to handle similar challenges and stressors in the future. Accepting their mistakes as part of the journey of life helps them to be more confident, self-aware, and compassionate.
16. Listen to your emotions.
Uptight people easily suppress their emotions. They push them aside, ignoring them, to maintain self-control.
As an uptight person, you need to listen to your emotions and allow yourself to feel them…even the negative ones. Ignoring your emotions can lead to long-term effects on your mental and physical health.
When you feel and process your emotions, you can gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your needs. It can help you identify your emotional triggers, learn healthy coping mechanisms, and get a great sense of self-awareness.
17. Celebrate your accomplishments.
Uptight people are often overly critical of themselves and look down on their own accomplishments. But whether big or small, they must recognize and celebrate their achievements.
Celebrating achievements can boost your self-confidence and fill you with a sense of accomplishment and pride. Take the time to acknowledge your progress and growth. Use your accomplishments as motivation to continue moving forward.
When you learn to appreciate your efforts, you start to recognize your value.
A Less Uptight Life Awaits
Learning how to be less uptight can significantly improve your quality of life. It can help you let go of your need for control, embrace uncertainty, and find joy in the present moment. You can learn to relax, take care of yourself, and recognize your accomplishments.
As a result, your life will be filled with ease, enjoyment, and satisfaction. You will be able to form deeper connections with others because you’re not as critical of them or their “shortcomings.” You’ll be able to navigate challenges with greater resilience and adaptability.
Ultimately, by learning how to loosen up, you’ll be able to find greater peace, happiness, and fulfillment.