Everyone gets grouchy sometimes and that’s totally normal, especially when you’re extremely tired or hungry, or you’re stuck in traffic, or some jerk steals your thunder at work. In some situations, like a traffic jam during your commute, there’s nothing you can do to change the circumstances. But there are things we do that negatively affect our mood that we can control. And some of them we might not even be aware of.
These are some ways you may be making yourself more irritable and what to do about it.
- Not going outside all day - If you work from home this is especially easy to do and your mood takes a hit when you’re inside all day. Not getting natural light messes with our natural circadian rhythm, so spend some time outside every day, ideally for 45 minutes in the morning.
- Skipping lunch - Some days we get busy and put off eating, even when we feel hungry. But the National Council for Mental Wellbeing explains, “It is well known that eating patterns can cause mood swings. Blood sugar fluctuations and nutritional imbalances are often to blame.” So set a timer or put it in your calendar, just make sure you eat before you get hangry.
- Being overly responsive to our phones - We’re all guilty of this, in fact one study finds that Americans across all age groups check their phones an average of 46 times a day. And all those distractions take our attention and focus, which can leave us frustrated with ourselves for wasting time. So, try to resist checking every ding and buzz and put your phone on “do not disturb” when that’s not enough.
- Reading or watching emotionally draining things before bed - Doomscrolling social media or watching true crime shows can leave some folks feeling unsettled and that can keep them from getting to sleep. If that’s you, try cutting yourself off from anything disturbing a few hours before bedtime so your brain can calm down before it’s time to snooze.
- Drinking too close to bedtime - Alcohol may help you fall asleep, but it doesn’t help you sleep better, in fact it reduces REM sleep, which is the most restorative. And being tired can definitely make you cranky. That’s why it’s better to have your cocktail after work and not near bedtime.