Whether due to stress, hormonal imbalance, or other major life changes, irritability, and anxiety are natural responses to disruptions in everyday life. But when they become a chronic problem - often accompanied by headaches, and sometimes by depression - it's time to make a change. Read on to find out where to begin to start kicking irritability out of your life.
Week 1: Understand Your Personality
Irritability and anxiety affect everyone differently, and therefore everyone has their own unique solution. The first step in the right direction is to figure out what sets off these emotions, and that is often based on personality. Introverts typically become more irritable in hectic, crowded situations that offer too much stimulus, whereas extroverts can feel more anxious with too much quiet around them.
Spend this week taking some quality time for yourself as well as with calm, positive people to see which makes you feel more relaxed. Of course, since many people fall somewhere in the middle on the introvert-extrovert spectrum, a combination of the two might be best.
Week 2: Set a Bedtime
Once you've learned a bit more about yourself during waking hours, it's time to make sure you have enough energy to get the most out of your newfound knowledge. Sleep deprivation is a major cause of irritability and anxiety, and it is particularly worse for menopausal women experiencing hot flashes and night sweats. You need enough time to recharge and start the day fresh.
It's recommended that adults get seven to eight hours of sleep every night, so count back from when you have to wake up in the morning, and make it a priority to hit the hay by that hour. Keeping the bedroom calm, cool, and technology-free can help you reach that goal.
Week 3: Get Your Diet on Track
Salmon helps with cognition; whole grains, fruits, and vegetables help you control sugar levels.To continue that refreshed feeling throughout the day, it's equally important to get the right nutrients in your diet. Luckily, a few simple updates to your everyday meals could be all you need to combat irritability. Trade red meats for fish like salmon that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids to help cognition and feel on top of your game. Additionally, whole grains and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables help you avoid anxiety-inducing sugar crashes that drain tolerance on the spot.
Bonus: there's no need to skip dessert, as pure dark chocolate raises serotonin levels, though candy bars don't count.
Week 4: Start an Exercise Routine
By now, you're starting to feel like yourself again and are on your way to a healthy, energetic lifestyle. To gain even further stress-busting benefits, it's really helpful to start a regular exercise routine, encouraging blood flow to the brain and releasing endorphins along the way. If you discovered in Week 1 that you're an extrovert, aerobic workouts could provide the catharsis you need after a long work week. For introverts, low-impact routines like yoga are great, as they focus on relaxation and breathing techniques to calm down.
It's not always easy to make permanent changes in habit, especially when other aspects of life pull in all directions. However, small, progressive alterations can help you reach your goals effectively in no time. By following this weekly plan, you'll be on your way to the good mood you deserve.
- National Health Service UK. (2012). How to Fall Asleep. Retrieved August 20th, 2013 from http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/insomnia/Pages/bedtimeritual.aspx
- Freyd, M. (1924). Introverts and Extroverts. Psychological Review, Vol 31 (1) January Issue, pp 74-87. Retrieved online August 20, 2013 from http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/rev/31/1/74/