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7 Quick Ways to Stop Being Irritable | Psychology Today
7 Quick Ways to Stop Being Irritable
It's often the little things that set us off. Here's how to keep
cool instead.
Posted Oct 08, 2015
Source: fizkes/Shutterstock
Irritability is something we all experience, but what sets it apart from
other emotional states is the extent to which it pollutes the emotional
atmosphere around us. Indeed, irritability is the carbon monoxide of
emotional pollutants. One person’s irritable mood can release negativity
andstress <https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/stress>-inducing
vibes that negatively impact the entire office, household, or classroom.
When we feel irritable we feel on edge, grumpy, cranky, and sour. Our
tolerance is lower and we are much more likely to be bothered by the
kinds of minor frustrations we ordinarily shrug off. Our reactions to
irritants are also likely to be much more aggressive than usual, leading
us to snap, bark, and chastise those around us. When the boss is
irritable, word quickly spreads around the office to stay out of his or
her way. When mom or dad comes home from work in an irritable state, it
takes all of a few minutes for the kids to exchange knowing glances and
quietly withdraw into their rooms (or put on their earphones).
Irritability is no treat for the person experiencing it, either. Our
stresshormones <https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/hormones>surge
into action and we enter the same fight-or-flight mentality our
ancestors did when they were on bear-watch duty at the clan’s cave
entrance. The slightest movement or noise can make us jump and react as
if we are under attack, with nary a threat in sight.
Most people would happily snap their fingers and rid themselves of this
toxic emotional state if they could. Alas, finger-snapping is not an
effective treatment. But there are 7 key things you can do to bring
yourself down when you’re feeling irritable or on edge.
*1. Figure out the source.*
The best way to reduce irritability is to figure out what’s making you
irritable—and then address it. Identify when you first became irritable
and consider what might have set you off. It’s important to remember
that while your reactions might feel complex at the moment, the issue
that triggered them might be simple.
*2. Reduce caffeine andalcohol
I once worked with a barista at a coffee house who had problems with
irritability. It turns out the real problem was the hourly mochaccino
breaks he was taking. Too much caffeine during the day and too much
alcohol at night are frequent sources of irritability for many people.
So considercutting
*3. It’s often the little things.*
We often dismiss considering things that/shouldn’t/make us irritable
even if they actually/do/. For example, a competitive person might
become irritable when they lose at Words withFriends
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/friends>, but since they know
that’s silly, they ignore the fact that their mother’s triple word score
vaulted her into the lead and triggered their internal sourness. Be
honest with yourself about what’s bothering you: Simply acknowledging
that something is making you irritable is often enough to take the edge off.
*4. Get in touch with your compassion.*
Being compassionate—with/yourself/—can be a powerful way to calm your
churning emotions. Acknowledge (in your head) that you feel really
irritable—and how unpleasant it is. Then imagine getting a hug from
someone who cares about you. Once you feel a little better, use your
compassion to consider how it has made those around you feel, and how
important it is to not take it out on them.
*5. Gain perspective.*
We usually feel irritable about small-to-medium size annoyances—the kind
we probably won’t remember in a few days or weeks. Take a few minutes to
remind yourself of the larger picture—the things that are going well in
your life and the things for which you can begrateful
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/gratitude>, such ashealth
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/health>and employment. But if
you feel too unsettled to do this kind of thinking, give the following a
try. . .
*6. Rid yourself of nervous energy.*
Since irritability activates our fight-or-flight response sets, it might
be a good idea to take a quick walk or run, or, if that’s not possible,
do some quick push-ups or crunches to rid yourself of excess energy that
might be fueling your irritability. Fresh air on a leisurely walk could
do wonders as well. For those who cannot use exercise, the entirely
opposite approach works as well. . .
*7. Get quiet or alone time.*
Find a quiet place to think things through, or to disengage from the
commotion and activity around you. Irritability can be your mind’s way
of alerting you that you need a break, so/take one/. Listen to music, do
some stretching or yoga,meditate
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/meditation>, or take a bubble
bath. When you’re done, take a deep breath and prepare yourself to
re-engage so your system isn’t shocked back into irritability once you
re-enter the fray.
Robert Sterbal
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january 2019 by rsterbal
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