How to Overcome Irritability

Many people who suffer from depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders report feeling irritable. It's a sign that you're stressed out and having a hard time coping with stress in healthy ways. Irritability can cause issues at work and in your relationships. Fortunately, you can take steps to reduce your irritability. If your mood significantly impacts your ability to succeed at work and maintain healthy relationships, you might want to get help from a mental health professional, because you might be suffering from something more than irritability.

Getting outdoors and spending time in nature can greatly improve your mood. (Image: Motoyuki Kobayashi/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Step 1

Pay attention to your mood and body recommends Psychology Today. You're more likely to feel irritable when you're bored, not comfortable, physically, tired and hungry. Take care of your physical needs in order to prevent irritability and anger.

Step 2

Exercise to prevent and cope with your emotions. MayoClinic.com reports that you can alleviate anger by going on a walk, jogging, playing sports or doing other physical activities. Try to get in at least 20 minutes of physical activity each day. This will also help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Step 3

Identify your stress by taking the time to write it down each day. Each evening, take a few minutes to write down things that are affecting your mood. For example, you might include the fight with your spouse and the unpaid electric bill. Circle each thing that you have control over, and write down specific steps you can take to fix those things. Try to take small steps each day to deal with the things that are causing you stress.

Step 4

Spend at least 15 minutes each day doing something that you enjoy. You could paint your nails, read a mystery novel or take photographs in your backyard. If you don't give yourself time to be happy during the day, you're more likely to be irritable.

Step 5

Practice relaxation techniques. When you notice your mood changing from calm to irritable or angry, take a ten minute time-out and practice a relaxation technique such as guided meditation. For this technique, close your eyes and imagine that you're at a place that makes you feel safe and happy. Try to engage all of your senses. For instance, if you imagine that you're hiking in the woods, smell the clean air, feel the leaves crunch under your feet, picture the colors of the trees and hear the birds chirping.

Warning

If your irritability turns to destructive anger and you feel like you might hurt yourself or someone else, you should get professional help. Contact a local mental health professional such as a social worker or psychologist or ask your primary care physician for a referral.

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