How to Be Less Irritable

Four Methods:Adopting Healthy HabitsChanging Your MindsetCommunicating with PeopleUnderstanding Your Irritability

When you are feeling irritable, it can cause friction between you and your family, friends, and co-workers. It can also be emotionally draining to feel frequently out of sorts. Whether your irritation is situational or caused by a physical problem, there are steps you can take to feel better. When you are less irritable, you'll notice positive changes in your outlook.

Method 1
Adopting Healthy Habits

  1. Image titled Be Less Irritable Step 1
    Get more exercise. Not only is it great for your physical health, but exercise can actually improve your mood. Exercising frequently can make you feel less stressed, which can lessen the likelihood of you becoming irritable. Hitting the gym is also a great way to blow off steam, if you do find yourself feeling cranky during the day.[1]
    • Get in a routine. Doctors recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise six days a week. Try scheduling your exercise the same way you schedule other appointments. By making it a priority, you'll be more likely to make time each day for some physical activity.
    • Choose an activity that you like. Have you always enjoyed swimming? Find a gym or a nearby park with an indoor pool. If you choose an exercise that feels like fun for you, you'll get added mood boosting benefits.
    • Head outside. Being outdoors can lighten your mood and ease feelings of anxiety. Take a long walk and enjoy exploring a new neighborhood or local hiking trail.
  2. Image titled Be Less Irritable Step 2
    Eat a healthy diet. The foods you eat can have a big impact on your mood. If you eat too much sugar or a lot of processed foods, you will likely experience more symptoms of mood swings, including irritability. Instead, reach for whole foods, especially lots of fruits and veggies. When your body feels better, you will likely be in a better mood.[2]
    • Aim for at least five servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit each day. Leafy greens such as kale have a ton of nutrients that will help your overall health.
    • Berries have a lot of antioxidants which have been shown to increase brain function. When your brain feels good, you're more likely to be in a good mood. Try making a smoothie each morning loaded with raspberries or blueberries.
    • Avoid having too much caffeine. It can make you feel jittery and cause spikes and dips in your energy levels that can leave you feeling cranky.
  3. Image titled Be Less Irritable Step 3
    Rest up. There is a definite correlation between sleep and mood. You probably know that even one night of not enough sleep can cause you to feel stressed and overly emotional. To avoid these changes to your mood, try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night.[3]
    • Get on a sleep schedule. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. This will help your body regulate its internal clock and you will sleep better. This will also help regulate your mood.
    • Power down the electronics before bed. Try to avoid having the tv on or checking your e-mail within an hour of bedtime. The glow from the screen can interfere with your brain's ability to shut itself off.
  4. Image titled Be Less Irritable Step 4
    Avoid excess alcohol. While a glass of wine after work can make you feel relaxed, drinking much more than that can have adverse effects. Research shows that because alcohol lowers inhibitions, it can lead to you saying things that make you sound angry or irritable. For example, if you have several drinks, you are more likely to be very irritated that your partner forgot to do the dishes--and you won't be afraid to make your irritation known. Women should try to limit their alcohol intake to one drink per day, while men should stick to two.[4]
    • Be aware of how alcohol makes you feel. If you know that drinking often leads to you feeling emotional or angry, try to avoid it altogether.
    • Alcohol can also interfere with your sleep. Avoid drinking within 2-3 hours of your bedtime.

Method 2
Changing Your Mindset

  1. Image titled Be Less Irritable Step 5
    Make time for yourself. Feeling irritable might be your mind's way of telling you that you need to take a break. When you feel a mood change coming on, make it a point to step away from the situation and take some time for yourself. This can be as simple as taking a quick walk around the block to calm yourself down.[5]
    • Make it a habit to set some time aside your yourself each day. Maybe you can reserve the last half hour of each day to read a book. Or you could wake up a little early to enjoy having your first cup of coffee in complete silence.
    • When you notice yourself being irritable, give yourself a break. Take some time to listen to music or do a few relaxing yoga stretches.
  2. Image titled Be Less Irritable Step 6
    Practice patience. When you are impatient, you are more likely to feel irritable, overwhelmed, and stressed. Try to practice patience in your everyday life. It's not easy, but it will have positive benefits for your overall mood.[6]
    • Try to slow down. Research shows that by moving at a slower pace, you will feel less hurried, and therefore less impatient. Try to eat more slowly, breathe more slowly, and take time to appreciate your surroundings.
    • Be flexible. It's important to know that things won't always go your way. Be prepared for things to go wrong or take longer than expected. For example, maybe you only scheduled thirty minutes to get your kids dressed and off to school. Try building a little flex time into your schedule. That way, if it takes a little longer than expected, you won't feel like your entire day has been thrown off course.
  3. Image titled Be Less Irritable Step 7
    Meditate. Meditation can having amazing emotional benefits. Reports say that it can cause decreased irritability, greater ability to deal with conflict, and more emotional balance. Try adding meditation to your daily routine. You will see definite changes in your mental health.[7]
    • You can mediate by choosing a quiet, comfortable place to sit. Close your eyes and focus on breathing deeply. You can let your mind drift or focus on a mental image, such as rolling waves or a flickering candle.
    • There are many guided meditations available. Try downloading one to your phone. They are available in many time increments, from two minutes to two hours. Guided sessions are great for those new to mediation.
  4. Image titled Be Less Irritable Step 8
    Let it go. You may feel that you are chronically irritated about something. For example, maybe your child can never seem to remember to make his bed before school. Instead of letting this ruin each and every morning by causing irritation, talk to yourself about reasons to just let it go.[8]
    • This is also known as "dropping the story". Instead of letting the messy room invade your thoughts all day, practice some self-talk. Whenever you think of the unmade bed, remind yourself that your child is sweet, caring, and humorous. Eventually, those will be the thoughts that your brain instinctively focuses on.
  5. Image titled Be Less Irritable Step 9
    Allow for the unexpected. Anxiety is one of the primary reasons we become irritable. Often, unexpected events can cause that anxiety, leading to an overall irritability. Think about what happens to your mood when a traffic accident causes you to be 20 minutes late for work. That unexpected delay can cause ripple effects throughout your whole day. You can't stop the unexpected from happening, but you can definitely take steps to handle surprises better.[9]
    • Take a deep breath. Calming yourself with slow, conscious breathing can help you stay calm and stave off irritability.
    • Allow your anxiety to exist. Don't cause yourself to feel worse by being angry at yourself for being anxious. Instead, acknowledge your emotions, make a plan to fix the situation, and move on. If you're going to be late for work, maybe just acknowledge that you'll have to eat lunch at your desk to make up for lost time.
  6. Image titled Be Less Irritable Step 10
    Surround yourself with positive people. It's possible that you are irritable because you are surrounded by people who are negative. Moods are contagious. If you want to be in a good mood, one of the best things you can do is surround yourself with those people who make you happy and relaxed.[10]
    • You cannot always choose who you spend time with. For example, if you have a negative co-worker, you obviously can't just cut her out of your life. You can, however, make a conscious choice to not allow your own mood to be affected by her negative attitude. You can also limit your interactions with her as much as possible.
    • Think positive thoughts. Throughout the day, take some time to focus on something good. It can be as easy as appreciating the smell of your morning coffee.
  7. Image titled Be Less Irritable Step 11
    Organize your surroundings. If your home is cluttered, chances are your mind is, too. Having disorganization in your daily life can lead to greater stress, which can increase feelings of irritability. Try keeping your environment neater. You'll feel better mentally. [11]
    • Take 10 minutes each evening to do a general straightening-up of your living space. Your mind will feel relaxed as you go to bed, and you'll wake up feeling better prepared to calmly face the day.
    • Try keeping your desk neat. You'll end up feeling calmer at work, and less likely to be crabby.

Method 3
Communicating with People

  1. Image titled Be Less Irritable Step 12
    Set boundaries. Other people are the cause of many day-to-day annoyances. If you work on improving your communication skills, you can help yourself cope with irritating people. By setting boundaries and conveying those boundaries to others, you can limit irritating interactions.[12]
    • Make your feelings clear. For example, if you have a co-worker who regularly asks when you are going to have children and you feel that his questions are an annoying invasion of privacy, you could say "My husband and I are very happy with our lives." Then move on.
    • Say no. We are often irritable when we feel overwhelmed and worn down. This tends to happen when we are too busy. Try saying no when someone asks you to do something that you don't have time for. Say, "Actually, I'm not available to fill in for you at the client dinner this Thursday. I have a lot of my own projects that I need to focus on."
  2. Image titled Be Less Irritable Step 13
    Try new tactics. When you are feeling irritable, there are several steps you can take to avoid taking it out on other people. One of the most effective methods is to take a break, or a time-out. If you're irritable during a meeting, excuse yourself for a minute. Grab a drink of water, take a few deep breaths, and give yourself a minute to process your emotions. This might avoid helping you snap at someone.[13]
    • Try using "I" statements. Instead of getting mad and exploding when you come home to a sink full of dirty dishes, phrase your annoyance productively. Say "I would appreciate having some help cleaning up," or "I feel overwhelmed when I come home to a messy house at the end of a busy day". This way, you are explaining your emotions without using a blame-placing statement.
    • Consider the other person's point of view. Before getting mad, take a minute to think. Did the other person have a hectic day? Is that why the household chores aren't done? Maybe take that into consideration before jumping immediately to irritability.
  3. Image titled Be Less Irritable Step 14
    Ask questions. Sometimes your view of a situation might not consider the whole picture. We have a tendency to assume that other people's actions are focused on us. In reality, they probably have their own reasons that might have nothing to do with you. Try asking some questions to figure out the situation. [14]
    • It can be irritating when your partner doesn't remember to take the trash out. Instead of immediately thinking, "Why doesn't he care about me?", try to assess the situation by saying, "What's the situation with the trash? Were you running late to work this morning?

Method 4
Understanding Your Irritability

  1. Image titled Be Less Irritable Step 15
    Learn the cause. If you find yourself being irritable on a regular basis, you need to determine the reason. Irritability can be a symptom of underlying health issues such as anxiety and depression. In women, hormonal imbalance can lead to irritability.[15]
    • Irritability can also be a symptom of serious illness such as cardiovascular disease or lung disease.
    • Certain medications can also cause irritability. Ask your doctor to help you find the cause of your problem.
  2. Image titled Be Less Irritable Step 16
    Consider treatment. Consult your doctor on the best way to treat your irritability. If it is a symptom of a physical ailment, such as chronic pain, it is time to be more aggressive in treating your illness. Ask your doctor to suggest changes in your medication or lifestyle.[16]
    • If your doctor concludes that your irritability is the result of a mental health issue, such as anxiety or depression, ask him to refer a counselor. Talk therapy can be very effective in helping you deal with these issues.
  3. Image titled Be Less Irritable Step 17
    Make a lifestyle change. If your irritability is not the result of a physical problem, it is likely situational. That means it is caused by something going on in your life: stress at work, or problems in a relationship. Spend some time trying to pinpoint what it is that is making you unhappy. Then take steps to try to make positive changes in that area.[17]
    • If you find that work is one of the major causes of your bad mood, consider making a career change. Make a list of the things you consider most important in a job: pay, creative challenges, security, a positive work environment. Then spend some time brainstorming what sort of career would best suit you.
    • If you are having a problem with a personal relationship, try to communicate your thoughts to the other person. For example, if you find yourself constantly frustrated with your partner, ask to have a conversation about your feelings. Clearing the air can make you feel emotionally better, and can result in positive changes.


  • Try several different methods of relaxation until you find the one that works best for you.
  • If you are grouchy, try to shift your focus. Put on some happy music, or do something relaxing to distract yourself.

Sources and Citations

Show more... (14)

Article Info

Categories: Manners