It’s only 10:00 in the morning and you’ve already left a wake of hurt feelings trailing behind you. You woke up grumpy. You snapped at your kids. Your co-workers are tip-toeing past your office. Heck—even your dog knew to hide under the couch until you left the house. Everyone can have an off day like this now and then. But with you, it’s every day. What is going on? Have you ever asked yourself, Why am I always angry and irritated?
Those of us who grew up watching the TV show, “Sesame Street” as children will remember the character called “Oscar the Grouch.” His mission in life is to be as miserable and grouchy as possible. And, even though he’s 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 always being angry and irritated. After all, look at the poor guy. Firstly, he’s green. Secondly, his fur is matted. Thirdly, you can’t see his nose, so I’m not sure he has one. And last but not least, he lives in a garbage can. I’d be grumpy too! So, unless you too live in a garbage can I’d like to ask you what’s your excuse for being grouchy? Let’s explore a couple of reasons that might surprise you.
REASONS YOU MIGHT BE FEELING ANGRY AND IRRITATED
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 latter 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 individual’s anxiety can make normal day-to-day problems seem more difficult and overwhelming leaving them to feel angry and irritated 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 too sharply. The good news is, there are steps you can take to gain control over these emotions.
GAINING CONTROL IN SIX STEPS
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 conclude 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. Give thought to how your actions make those around you feel, especially when they didn’t deserve to be treated in that way.
Offer mercy instead of indignation.It’s within your power how you decide 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.
Clearly, in life, you may find yourself in the midst of circumstances that will leave you feeling angry and irritated at times. It happens to everybody. However, it is concerning if you are experiencing angry outbursts due to things that normally wouldn’t have bothered you in the past. Or, your irritability feels extreme or out of control, and you are unsure as to the cause. If it’s significantly impacting your social, occupational, or other areas of functioning, it’s probably time to seek out help. And working with an anxiety coach can be a great place to start.
Hi, I’m Kris Henderson, LPC. I want you to know that I am here to help. The easiest way to start taking control of your anxiety is to take the FREE 5-Day Anxiety Detox Challenge. If you would like more personalized support, I invite you to contact me or make an appointment online. Once we figure out the cause, we can better find a solution so you can focus on being happy more often than being irritable.
This article originally appeared on Counseling Solutions of West Michigan