Everyone feels irritable from time to time and for varying reasons: a night of bad sleep, waiting too long to eat, a stressful day at work or at home, and beyond. But if you find yourself having more bad days than good ones, and you always feel on edge, you’re better off facing your irritability instead of hoping it’ll go away on its own.
While some people might attempt feeling better by indulging in a beer (or two), a piece of chocolate cake, or maybe even a trip to the spa, these quick fixes are only temporary. Irritability is likely to come back if you don’t look at the big picture of why you feel the way you do and explore various ways to feel balanced again. This is why taking a holistic approach may be the most effective way to reduce constant irritability and stress.
A holistic approach takes a broader view of why you’re irritable to come up with various strategies that will positively impact your mental health, physical health, and emotional health in the short and long-term. Explore the following eight holistic ways you can reduce constant irritability.
1. Acknowledge Your Feelings
When you’re feeling irritable, you may be tempted to distract yourself, deny your irritability, or blame the people around you. But these approaches are less effective at reducing your irritability than simply acknowledging how you feel. According to a 2007 brain imaging study, UCLA psychologists found that when people verbalized feelings like sadness or anger, the intensity of these feelings decreased.1
2. Understand the Source
It’s easy to blame a night of lost sleep, a skipped meal, or your tantruming toddler for your irritability, but if you feel on edge all the time, maybe there’s a pattern that needs to be addressed. Do you have a habit of going to bed too late? Do you tend to work through your lunch break or snack on sugary treats throughout the day? Do you take on too much at home when it comes to childcare instead of asking for help? While it’s easy to attach irritable feelings to passing external circumstances, it’s crucial that you don’t miss what’s below the surface. Beyond patterns that may need to be addressed in your daily life, it’s important that you accept that stressors will come and go. But no matter what’s going on, you can choose how to respond. Practicing mindfulness or relaxation techniques is a great way to train yourself to react to your circumstances from a place of calmness.
3. Take Some Deep Breaths
When you’re feeling irritable or stressed, your body is likely to go into fight-or-flight mode in which your heart beats faster, your hands tremble, and your breathing becomes shallow. These are all biological stress responses that would have helped our ancestors face prehistoric predators. But now saber-toothed tigers and cave bears have been replaced by work emails and rush hour. Our stress responses need to be cooled down. One way to do this is by taking deep breaths. Deep breathing causes the vagus nerve to tell your nervous system to lower your heart rate, blood pressure, and the stress hormone cortisol. Research shows that taking just ten deep breaths can relax the body and provide a sense of calm.2
4. Do Some Physical Activity
While exercise is great for lowering the risk of heart disease and strengthening your bones and muscles, it can also help you feel more mentally balanced. Research shows that, like deep breathing, regular aerobic activity can calm the body’s fight or flight system.3 However, keep in mind that overtraining or dieting can exacerbate irritability, so be sure you’re not overdoing it and that you continue to eat nutritious meals.
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5. Take a Break
While a child might think of a “time-out” as a punishment for bad behavior, it can actually be a reward for your nervous system. Simply stepping away for a moment–whether it’s your laptop or an argument–can help you recharge so you can return to whatever it was you were doing and start again.
6. Reframe Your Negative Thoughts
Thinking negative thoughts is a great way to fuel your irritability. If you’re waiting in a long line at the supermarket, you might think about what you’d rather be doing, secretly cursing all the people in front of you or the “incompetent” cashier. You might even curse yourself for choosing to come to the supermarket at the worst time. To tackle these negative thoughts, try reframing. Instead of dwelling on your irritability, remind yourself how hard the cashier must be working or how lucky you are to have the means to shop at this store. Whatever inconvenience you face, try to accept the situation and find the positive.
7. Get Help From a Professional
If you find that constant irritability is interfering with your work, relationships, and overall happiness, it may be useful to get help from a therapist. They’ll help you get to the bottom of your irritable feelings and come up with strategies to reduce irritability in your life. They’ll also help you determine if irritability is a sign of a bigger mental health issue like generalized anxiety or depression.
8. Look into Holistic Medications
Another option for reducing irritability is taking medication. While many individuals turn to antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, or stimulants to feel more balanced, many of these pharmaceutical drugs come with harsh side effects like headache, nausea, loss of appetite, and trouble sleeping. While many do find great success in using pharmaceutical drugs, we recommend using a gentler option first and leaving prescription medications as a last resort. One such gentle alternative is homeopathic Brillia, which takes a holistic approach to addressing irritability, anxiety, and restlessness at the source of symptoms. Free from harsh chemicals and harmful side effects, Brillia uses targeted antibodies to the S100B protein, an important regulator of mood. The medication also works best in tandem with healthy lifestyle factors like eating well, getting enough sleep, minimizing screen time, and practicing mindfulness. Brillia helps you feel like yourself again in the most gentle and impactful way possible.