Irritability is a common problem…we all experience it from time to time.
Irritability is defined as a feeling of agitation. Although, some describe “agitation” as a more severe form of irritability.
When you’re irritable, you’re likely to become frustrated or upset easily. You might experience it in response to stressful situations. It may also be a symptom of a mental or physical health condition.
You may have been experiencing more irritability during the lockdown because your normal stress relievers have not been available to you. Gyms have closed down, massages are not available, various forms of entertainment such as concerts, movies, and travel have been taken away. Going out to eat, going to bars, etc. has been less commonplace and we have drastically reduced the number of social engagements/ people that we see on a regular basis. All this together has disrupted our usual ways of coping and may lead to increased irritability.
Alcohol and Coffee are Common Culprits…
If you have been feeling irritable be sure to check how much coffee you are drinking. I quit coffee all together back in 2000 and I have had 1 cup of regular and 1 cup of decaf since, and both times I experienced a great deal of irritability. So cutting back on or eliminating coffee entirely is a great place to start.
Alcohol makes you feel more relaxed at first, but then you will feel more irritable the next day. This irritability is due to the depressant nature of alcohol as well as the work that your body has to go through to eliminate the toxins of alcohol. Eliminating alcohol is a great step towards stabilizing your mood.
Mindfulness Stops Irritability in its Tracks
Realizing how toxic irritability is to others we want to get a handle on this issue. The first step is making a conscious choice to do something different. Stop and think before you react. Be in the moment. Take a deep breath and think about how you want to handle the situation. Use your thinking. Use your inner voice. Remind yourself that the moment will pass, but the damage you do if you speak from this place of irritability could last a very long time. You can always walk into another room, sit down and place your hand on your heart and have a talk with yourself. Calming yourself down and just being in the moment.
When you are in the moment and you focus on your breath you realize that nothing is actually happening right then and there. Lift your head up. A lifted head is a behavioral strategy that helps you feel better right away. Smile. Another way to make yourself feel better. See if there was a different intention by the person who was making you irritable than what you initially thought. Consider alternative solutions and know that you can always come back and talk about something when you are feeling more calm.
Realize that you are in control of your reactions, they are not in control of you.
Make a decision to act differently then stop yourself in your tracks if you are responding in an irritable manner. Once you do respond calmly, give yourself lots of praise to reinforce the behavior and see the positive results of your calmer actions.
When is Irritability a Sign of Something more Serious?
Irritability can be a symptom of anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder or even schizoaffective disorder. For example people who are depressed may not be sad or hopeless, but they may be very irritable. Irritability may be seen as a symptom more often in men because men are trained from an early age to not show their sadness, and tend to cover it up with anger.
Irritability is a sign of something more serious when you can’t control it, when you are unsure of why it is happening and when it is having a significant impact on your relationships. These three signs may signify that you have a mental health condition that needs further treatment.
If you are experiencing greater than normal irritability, be sure to reach out for help. Feel free to reach out to me at the email address below.
With love & blessings,