If only it were a social norm to wear an “I’m feeling irritated today” pin to signal to others when we are not a force to be reckoned with… but then again, most of us would have pins on Mon-Fri…
Feeling annoyed is a natural, frustrating part of the human experience. Many factors can cause irritation, ranging from substances (e.g., caffeine, alcohol, smoking) to burnout from an overly full schedule, to having unrealistic standards for yourself and/or others. Consistent irritability can also be a symptom of anxiety and/or depression.
Here are a few ideas to consider when you feel like punching a wall and crying at the same time:
Take a Break and a Breath – In moments of overwhelm or overstimulation, emotions can take over. Taking a break, even if it’s just for 5 minutes, and taking some deep, soothing breaths can make life’s frustrations feel less intense.
Prioritize Physical Needs – Neglecting your sleep, nutrition, and exercise (any of those 3!) can lead to chronic irritability. Even subtle changes like going to bed a bit sooner, eating an extra piece of fruit, or walking around the block can make a difference.
Stop Blaming Others – Be aware of the stories you’re telling yourself when you feel annoyed so that you can avoid projecting your feelings onto others. Your emotional reactions are based on your own perception of what’s in front of you. Therefore, your emotions are your responsibility. By saying that a certain thing or person is making you feel annoyed, you’re giving away your power. Many aspects of life are out of our control (like the actions of others), so aim to stay focused on how you can fulfill your needs rather than relying on external factors to change.
Determine What You Need – Annoyance is an indicator that something needs to be adjusted, so it can be helpful to reflect on the message behind the feeling. Do you need to write out or vent your thoughts to someone? Do you need to take something off your to-do list (maybe by re-prioritizing your responsibilities or delegating)? Do you need to set a boundary or make a request? Do you need to re-evaluate your expectations? Challenge yourself to choose one healthy action or mindset shift to alleviate some of your irritation each time you feel annoyed.
Finally, when you feel especially irritated, consider giving your social connections a heads-up so that they don’t take anything personally. Again, you are responsible for your own emotional reactions, so this is not a free pass to be hurtful. However, transparent communication can allow the space for you to move through your experience with minimal collateral damage!