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Written By: DiveThru Team

Reviewed By: Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW


Feeling Irritated: A Guide to Your Emotions

PUBLISHED Dec 23rd, 2020 & UPDATED ON Jan 26th, 2023

When we feel irritated, we aren’t our usual selves. We’re super on edge. We get upset more easily and it’s like the slightest thing can set us off at any moment. It can make us snappy, rude and hard to be around. Other people might avoid us because of how moody we seem, like we’ll snap if they say one word to us. We might find it hard to accomplish simple tasks because we get easily frustrated and wanna give up when there’s the slightest inconvenience. Sound familiar?

It happens to the best of us. Look, we can’t all be happy rays of fucking sunshine every single day! Sometimes, things just get on our nerves and that’s okay. But if we let this emotion control us, we might take it out on others who don’t deserve it. It can also create a lot of problems in so many areas of our lives if we don’t get it under control. But don’t worry, that’s why we’re here! Let’s talk about feeling irritated and how you can cope with this emotion.

A Deeper Look at Feeling Irritated

APA Dictionary defines irritability as: “n. a state of excessive, easily provoked anger, annoyance, or impatience.” Yeppp, that checks out.

Feeling irritable is a normal human emotion that everyone goes through sometimes. It doesn’t make us bad people, though. ‘Cause guess what? We all have bad days! And sometimes, we might just feel like we woke up on the wrong side of the bed. We might want to be left alone to work through this feeling and cool off. There might not be a clear reason we feel irritated, but we’re in a bad mood anyway.

What Contributes?

There are a lot of factors that can contribute to our irritability. Stress can make us super irritable, especially when it’s been built up over time and we’ve tried to suppress it. It could be work-related stress, relationship stress, school stress, you name it. Alllll the stress! Eventually, the stress becomes too much and we lash out at other people, even when we don’t really mean it. If we don’t learn the best ways to manage our stress, our irritability can become out of control! And nobody wants that, especially when it can impact your relationships and make life harder than it needs to be.

Sometimes, the cause of irritability is pretty simple. Are you hungry? Not getting enough sleep? Lacking in the self care department? Those are easy fixes for the most part. It’s important to take the time to find the cause of your irritability so that you can move past it and get back to living your best life! You might think it’s your annoying neighbour who listens to their music too loud, or your mom who texts you constantly with family updates that you don’t wanna hear about. Life is full of small annoyances, and your feelings are totally valid. But check in with yourself and reflect on what the real root of your irritability is, ‘cause you probably have some idea. Like we said, it could be stress. Or you could just be hangry! You know yourself better than anyone. It’s okay to prioritize yourself and look after #1: you.

How Feeling Irritated Shows Up Mentally

Feeling irritated can affect our mental wellbeing in negative ways. Yep, more than just simply feeling annoyed! It ends up being a little poopy party in our minds that goes on forevveerrrr! And by the end of this shitty party, we end up feeling even more irritated than before. Here’s a few signs you could notice:

  • Anger
  • Frustration
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Impatience
  • Fatigue

If these mental symptoms continue, it could be a sign of mental disorders or illness including anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder. Irritability can also be a side effect of some medications. It’s always a good idea to seek medical attention if these symptoms persist and start to seriously harm your mental wellbeing.

How Feeling Irritated Shows Up Physically

When we feel irritated, our body shows signs. You might be trying to hide your irritation from others, and you may or may not be doing a good job at it. BUT what you can’t hide it from is your body. Yep! You heard that right. Here are some you might experience when your irritability is off the charts (and not in a good way):

  • Sweating
  • Increased heart rate
  • Fast breathing
  • Low blood sugar
  • Hormonal changes

But sometimes the irritation isn’t your fault at all. If your irritability is caused by a hormone imbalance, here’s a few more physical signs you may notice:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Hair loss
  • Hot flashes
  • Irregular menstrual cycles or menopause

If these physical signs continue, it’s important to seek medical attention. They could be indicators of larger health issues, so don’t ignore what your body is telling you!

5 Ways to Cope with Feeling Irritated

It can be hard to cope with feeling irritated, but don’t worry. We’re here for you! And we have some simple yet effective coping strategies for you whenever you’re feeling on edge. Try ‘em out!

1. Practice meditation

Meditation is a method that’s been used to relieve stress and improve mental clarity since, like… forever. This practice allows us to slowww down and shift our mindset. If you’re not sure how to meditate, start out with a guided practice. Hey, everyone’s gotta start somewhere!

2. Progressive muscle relaxation

When you’re feeling irritated, it can be hard to calm tf down and reduce your anxiety levels. This is a helpful technique for reducing stress that involves tensing a group of muscles as you breathe in, and then relaxing them while you breathe out. Repeat as needed!

3. Journal

Wanna gain some clarity and insight into your feelings while also releasing some of the stress you’re harbouring? Well, look no further! Writing in a journal is a 10/10 excellent way to better understand your thoughts and reframe the negative ones.

4. Reach out for support

Sometimes when we feel crabby, the last thing we want to do is be around other people. But having someone to listen to us and validate how we’re feeling makes all the difference! So go ahead and have a lil’ vent sesh with someone you can count on.

5. Find a positive distraction

When you’re feeling irritated, it can be helpful to focus on something else for a bit. Watch an episode of a show that never fails to make you laugh. Clean out your closet. Listen to a podcast or playlist of your favourite songs. Paint, do a puzzle, whatever you like! Choose something you know will be a guaranteed stress-reliever and mood-booster.

That’s all for now, friend! It might seem hard when you’re having an off day, but we know you can get through this feeling like a champ.

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