Ever have days when you feel irritated and annoyed at almost everything—and everyone? I hate feeling irritated and annoyed, so when I have days like this, I become even more irritable and more annoyed, the irritability feeding on itself and growing ever stronger in a vicious, seemingly endless, circle. I dealt with this very thing this morning, actually, but I was able to turn my mood around. If you hate finding yourself irritated and annoyed, read on for ways to deal with it.
After hitting snooze on the alarm clock for the third (or fourth; probably fourth) time this morning, I stretched, muscles stiff and sore from doing soccer drills with my son for a couple of hours in the cold yesterday, and headed upstairs for my morning ritual of peaceful movement. What I do—elliptical, treadmill, or yoga—varies, but my ritual always involves some sort of exercise, movement, to start my day off positively. Movement, in the quiet of the early morning, reduces stress and anxiety, helps me focus, and energizes. This morning, I enjoyed this ritual as always, and as I did yoga, I felt good and ready to proceed with my day.
Today, however, my ritual wasn’t as effective as it usually is. Suddenly and without any discernible reason, as a continued to prepare for the day, I felt it. The irritability insidiously worked its way into my mind and body. It threw me off. I knew I was off when I couldn’t think of a thing to say to my husband. I almost never find myself at a loss for words, but there I was. Silent. That annoyed me, and it made me irritated with my husband. Certainly he could take responsibility for a conversation, couldn’t he? Why must I always be the one to initiate and maintain conversation? My irritability and annoyance grew.
This morning, everything was off. I checked e-mails, had a host of top-priority messages, and was annoyed by every single one of them (gladly, this is way out of character). In the car, the radio DJs seemed off to me, and instead of enjoying their banter, I was irritated by the entire show. The noise of the radio—the DJs, the screeching music, the commercials—grated on my nerves. Traffic was heavier than usual. I was more impatient than usual. I had an appointment for an oil change, and people were in my way. My irritability increased with each passing minute. When I had the urge to slam into the car in front of me just to get it to move ahead, I realized that I needed to reset. Now. I had to deal with this horrible impatience and annoyance before I started some sort of incident.
I use the below steps when I need to turn my mood around, and when I used them today, they worked wonders.
How to Deal with Irritability and Annoyance
- Notice and accept. Tune into your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations. Accept them as temporary byproducts of the irritability and annoyance; don’t buy into them or let them make you think they’re a permanent part of your day.
- Remember who you are. What about yourself makes you proud? How do you want to be in this moment? Why do you hate being irritated, and why do you want to stop being annoyed. I pride myself in being calm and peaceful, positive in even difficult situations. I wasn’t being true to myself this morning, and I wanted to get back to who I really am.
- Consider your choices. We can’t always control what’s going on around us, and we certainly can’t control other people, but we can control our own reactions to the world around us and within us. I could have cursed at the radio, gestured rudely at other drivers, honked my horn, and generally acted in ways that only fueled my irritability. Or, I could have turned off the radio, taken a detour, stretched a bit to get rid of tension, and used the opportunity to practice deep breathing. We’re never truly without choices. In your current situation, what are your choices?
- Act. What can you do to purposefully turn your mood around? I realized that I was annoyed at the idea of being late for the appointment. No matter what I did, I wouldn’t be on time. Because the traffic was stopped anyway (otherwise I wouldn’t have done this), I chose to take action by calling the service center to let them know of my situation. Doing so didn’t change the situation, but it did give me some control over my personal outcome, which decreased my annoyance.
- Connect. Connecting with others, especially if you can share a little laughter, goes a long way toward decreasing irritability. The person I spoke with at the service center was incredibly nice, and he added a little humor to the situation. Talking to him made me less irritable. In the past, I’ve connected to decrease irritability by going to a store, coffee shop, etc. and fully talking to someone there. This works despite social anxiety, and it actually has the added bonus of being a safe exercise in reducing social anxiety.
We’re human, imperfect people living imperfect lives. We experience all sorts of moods. But we’re not slaves to our moods, passive beings powerless to change our moods and our outlook. It’s normal to be irritable and annoyed. But it’s very possible to deal with it and turn your mood around.
Do you have tips for turning your mood around? Scroll to the bottom and comment!
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