Do you feel irritable, annoyed, or just generally grouchy? Do you find yourself snapping or wanting to snap at everyone around you? Maybe your irritation explodes into anger and you don’t know why you feel so on edge all the time. If so, this blog’s for you!
Those of us who grew up watching the children’s TV show, “Sesame Street” will remember the character called, “Oscar the Grouch.” His mission in life was to be as miserable and grouchy as possible. Even though he was a puppet, the inspiration for his character actually came from rude, grumpy and snarly people the creator ran across in New York.
Now I guess you could say that Oscar has a reason for being grouchy. He’s green, his fur is matted, you can’t see his nose so I’m not sure he has one, and to top it all off he lives in a garbage can. I’d be grumpy too! But what is your excuse for being grouchy? Let’s explore a couple of reasons that might surprise you.
REASONS YOU MIGHT BE IRRITABLE
If the average person was asked to describe someone who was depressed their answer would probably go something like this; someone who seems sad all the time, doesn’t want to interact with others, shows low motivation, and stays in bed a lot. And while those behaviors are common signs of depression, some signs can be more subtle like being more irritable and angry with everyone and everything around them.
Although symptoms such as irritability, anger, hostility are not key to a diagnosis of depression, research has shown that these symptoms are pretty common in depressed people and can be associated with more severe, chronic and long-term depression. Depression can sneak up on you. People are programmed to consider overwhelming sadness as the first sign of depression but in reality the above symptoms can develop over time and can be harder to pinpoint.
Anxiety symptoms are actually symptoms of stress. Now stress responses are our friend if we are in danger and we need to take appropriate actions. But on the other hand, our stress responses can also be a foe if we use them too often or on a constant basis. People with anxiety disorders fall into the later category. They are stuck with that feeling all the time.
The more stressed a body becomes, the less patience it has. The behaviors and physical ramifications related to an individuals anxiety can make normal day-to-day problems seem more difficult and overwhelming leaving them to feel irritable most of the time. Their system is always on high alert. And because their body becomes overly stressed, when a challenge arises, it can seem dramatic and magnified. This then can cause them to react (or overreact) in an amplified manner by lashing out in a sharp way.
Bad moods can happen for any number of reasons, but sometimes, they might not have anything to do with your life circumstances. If you are always feeling on edge or irritated and can’t figure out why, you might want to make an appointment with your doctor. Many medical reasons can cause a shift in your moods and can cause irritability such as hormonal imbalances, hyperthyroidism, sleep issues, chronic pain, diabetes, etc.
I’m not saying that because you have bad moods you have a health issue but if you are frequently irritable it wouldn’t be a bad idea to see your doctor to make sure a health issue is not to blame.
DEALING WITH IRRITABILITY
6 STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO GAIN CONTROL
- Take a deep breath and count to 5. Inhale through your nose, count to 5 and exhale through your mouth slowly. Repeat this 10 times. Sometimes this is all it takes and the moment has passed.
- Assess what made you irritable. Say to yourself, “I’m annoyed because___.” Sometimes vocalizing the issue can help you to look at it logically instead of emotionally. You might even come to the conclusion that it is something trivial that won’t matter to you in a few days or weeks to come.
- Own it. Admit to yourself that you have been irritable and that it makes you feel lousy. Now consider how the people around you feel if they have been on the receiving end of your irritability and didn’t deserve to be treated in that manner.
- Extend grace instead of wrath. You have the power to choose how to react. Instead of cursing at the next car that cuts you off, consider they might be in a hurry because of an emergency.
- Focus on what really matters. In the grand scheme of things just how important are those issues that always seem to be “getting your goat?” Try switching your attention to the more important things in your life that are good and make you happy.
- Take a break. Sometimes you just need a physical break from the situation. Take a short walk, find a quiet corner to gather your emotions, get a cup of coffee, etc. It will give your mind a chance to put things in perspective. And if nothing else, it will protect you from having the opportunity of saying something you might regret later on.
Well, let’s face it. There are going to be things in life that cause you to become irritated at times. It happens to everybody. It is concerning however, if you are experiencing angry outbursts due to things that normally wouldn’t have bothered you in the past. Or, maybe your irritability feels extreme or out of control and you are unsure as to the cause. Also, if it’s significantly impacting your social, occupational, or other areas of functioning it’s probably time to seek out help. It may be due to an underlying mental health condition.
I want you to know that I am here to help. I invite you to call me, Kris Henderson, at 616-516-1570 or make an appointment on line. Once we figure out the cause, we can better find a solution so you can focus on being happy more often than being irritable.