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Feeling Irritable? 15 Ways to Feel Less Irritable

by | Feb 1, 2021

Mental health challenges have been on the rise, especially since Covid and all that has transpired since 2020.  Even if you’re not struggling with diagnosable mental health concerns, you may be finding yourself experiencing increased irritability and moodiness.  Not sure about whether your mood has been shifting?  Try asking someone you live with; they’ll be able to tell you.  Or, ask yourself:

  • Do I get easily annoyed or am I quicker to get angry?
  • Do I have a short fuse or feel grouchy quite often?
  • Has anyone told me I’m moody lately?
  • Do people ask me why I’m in a bad mood (and I didn’t even realize I was)?

An even more important question is:

What do I do to get myself out of this irritable, rotten mood when I’m feeling this way?

If you’re feeling irritable, here are some strategies that are worth a try!

15 Ways to Feel Less Irritable

1. Reduce caffeine and alcohol.

Caffeine is a stimulant and can rev you up and alcohol is a depressant that can get you feeling down in the dumps for days after you’ve drunk.  Minimizing these highs and lows will get you feeling more stable and less like you’re living on a roller coaster.

2. Gain perspective.

It’s always a good idea to step back and evaluate an issue or problem (or mood).  It helps to diffuse emotions, gain clarity, and let time do its thing.  Ask yourself if this will matter next week or even next month?  The answer is usually no. 

Another way to get some perspective is to find something to be grateful for.   If you’re irritable with a certain person (for example, your partner or roommate), you get double the points if you can think of something you’re grateful for that’s specific to them!  It’s easy to lose perspective when we’re focusing on what we don’t have rather than on our blessings.

3. Get moving.

Sometimes the irritability can stem from just having too much energy in your body.  Get rid of some negative tension and release it with a walk, bike ride, yoga, or whatever you love doing.  Just get your body moving, releasing those nice endorphins, and watch your irritability melt away.  This is helpful if you had too much caffeine and are feeling anxiously irritable.

4. Get quiet or alone time.

Sometimes, we just need some peace and quiet.  Find a cozy spot, breathe, disconnect, listen to music, take a bubble bath, journal, meditate, whatever you need to do, just do it by yourself.  Even extroverts need some time alone.  If you’re a Christian, this is a great time to pray and ask God to talk to you.  In the silent stillness is when God can sometimes be heard more easily.

5. Figure out if it’s hormonal.

Check with your doctor to see if you’re suffering from PMS, seasonal affective disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, thyroid condition, or menopause/perimenopause.   There are lots of different ways to balance your hormones naturally or with western medicine.  Hormones can and will make you cranky, so let’s not be in denial about this one.  Getting an annual physical is a great way to monitor your body’s performance and vitality.

6. Eat something.

Are you crabby because you forgot to eat?  Did you binge on those potato chips and are now covered in guilt?  Have you had anything nutritious for your body today?  Grab a healthy snack rather than junk food.  The keyword here is healthy!  Those chips or that chocolate bar aren’t going to help your nerves. Save junk food for a pleasurable, happy treat when you’re feeling better instead.

7. Go to bed or take a nap.

Are you just completely worn out from the day, week, month, or even year?  Give yourself permission to go to bed.  Sometimes, we just need to sleep it off.  If it’s the middle of the day, I suggest a 25-minute timer to make sure you don’t sleep too long and get in a worse mood.  A refreshing nap can be a great mood booster and waking with a more positive mindset is encouraging!  Or choose to hit the hay early to feel refreshed for the next day.

Therapist Recommended Reads

Interested in learning more about your mood? Try one of these therapist recommended books for a deeper dive.

8. Step away from your phone.

Your phone can be a numbing mechanism and a distraction from real life but it can wreak havoc on your mental health.  Not to mention the fact that it’s a huge comparison trap and can stir up all kinds of negative moods.  If you’re needing connection, you can’t have quality time with a loved one with a phone stuck up your nose.  You can’t truly decompress while scanning the news, social media, or text messages.  Try leaving your phone in another room, set app limits, or find a creative way to utilize less screen time.

9. Stop complaining out loud.

Once you’ve vented or discussed a problem, move on.  No more complaining.  Repeatedly complaining about something, ruminating, or obsessing is just not constructive and not mood-lifting whatsoever.  Give it to God and trust that He will comfort you and give you the strength you need to endure your challenges.

10. Laugh.

When you don’t want to even smile, force yourself to!  And then laugh!  Watch a funny show or movie, look up a funny joke, or think of your favorite funny memory.  This is an instant irritability eraser!  How can you laugh and be a grump at the same time?  (This works wonders with irritable kids, too!)

11. Ask for a good, long hug.

Ask for a hug that is tight and warm for at least 10 seconds.  This will give your brain enough time to release those chemicals to feel happy, peaceful, and loved.  Bonus points if you ask the person that’s annoying you.  If no one’s around, hug a pet.  Most pets love to be held close and cuddled!

12. Give yourself some grace.

Be loving towards yourself and whoever is annoying you.  Know that this too shall pass and you won’t be annoyed forever.  Forgive yourself for being a grump, apologize to someone if you need to, and be done with it.  Everyone gets in a bad mood; it’s ok.  Give yourself some grace and space to do what you need to do to get your mood up again.

13. Phone a friend.

Friends always seem to know just what to say to make you feel better.  Sometimes just hearing a loved one’s voice can put you at ease.  What’s an even better mood booster is when you can help someone else to feel better by listening and being a supportive presence to them as well!

14. Renew your mind.

Pay attention to what you are thinking.  Distorted thoughts like mind-reading, predicting the future, magnification, or even just using a negative mental filter can destroy a mood quickly.  Recognize these thinking errors and replace them with truth, clarity, and encouraging statements.  Hold your thoughts accountable, after all, you’re the only one who can tell yourself what to think.  And what you think determines how you’re going to feel and react to what life throws at you.

15. Allow your mood to indicate something.

It’s natural to feel all the feels, especially irritable ones.  Allow your feelings to indicate you’re feeling something that needs to be addressed.  However, try not to let your feelings dictate who you are or how you should act. Get curious about your mood but don’t allow it to boss you around.  Process your emotions so that your feelings are less likely to dictate your response.

Important Disclaimer:  If you are feeling depressed or suicidal, this is not irritableness.  Please call 911 or seek professional help if you are feeling this way.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

National Hopeline Network: 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)

What Comes Next?

You’ve read the blogs, tips, and posts with catchy ideas. You’re taking the steps and making progress, but you crave more. You want answers about why habits have formed in your life and how you can take steps to ensure they don’t take hold again.

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About Kristi | View Profile

Kristi Schwegman is a psychotherapist specializing in helping couples develop healthy relationships, whether dating, engaged, or married. She also draws from her Christian-based approach to lead individuals in becoming aware of the limiting beliefs that can get them stuck.

We offer in-person and virtual services – contact us today to learn more!

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