Read This When You’re Feeling Irritable: A Science-Backed Guide

Read This When You’re Feeling Irritable: A Science-Backed Guide

Oct 24, 2023

Oct 24, 2023

When Irritability Strikes: A Science-Backed Guide to Regaining Equilibrium

We've all been there—caught in a cycle of irritability that feels as though it's hijacking our mood and actions. While it's natural to experience these moments, science offers us some helpful tools for managing them more effectively.

1. The Power of Deep Breathing: More Than Just Woo-Woo

Taking deep, controlled breaths isn't just a wellness trend; it's rooted in biology. When you breathe deeply, it activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which counters the fight-or-flight response, helping you feel more relaxed. So when irritability strikes, practice the 4-7-8 technique: inhale through the nose for 4 seconds, hold the breath for 7 seconds, and exhale through the mouth for 8 seconds.

2. Identifying the Cause: A Lesson in Emotional Intelligence

Understanding the root of your irritability isn't just therapeutic; it's scientifically valid. Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and understand your emotions and their triggers. Perhaps low blood sugar, lack of sleep, or even overstimulation could be the culprit. Knowing the 'why' can inform the 'how' of your solutions.

3. The Psychology of Movement: Mind-Body Connection

Research shows that physical activity releases endorphins, the body's natural mood lifters. Even a short 10-minute walk can alleviate feelings of irritability and elevate your emotional state. It's not just about "working it off"—it's about activating a physiological response that supports your mental well-being.

4. Assertive Communication: A Tool for Relational Well-Being

If someone in your circle is contributing to your irritability, consider using assertive communication techniques. Grounded in psychological research, assertive communication focuses on expressing your feelings clearly and respectfully. It's not just about venting; it's about establishing boundaries and mutual understanding.

5. Self-Compassion: Not Just a Buzzword, but a Science-backed Approach

Kristin Neff, a pioneering researcher in the field of self-compassion, argues that treating ourselves kindly enhances emotional resilience. When you're irritable, remind yourself that it's a human experience, not a character flaw. Self-compassion correlates with lower levels of stress and greater emotional stability.

References:

Ciarrochi, J., Deane, F. P., & Anderson, S. (2002). Emotional intelligence moderates the relationship between stress and mental health. Personality and individual differences32(2), 197-209.

Lam, L., Mak, A., & Lee, S. (2016). Physical exercise to calm your ‘nerves’. Physical exercise interventions for mental health, 79-95.

Neff, K. (2003). Self-compassion: An alternative conceptualization of a healthy attitude toward oneself. Self and identity2(2), 85-101.

Speed, B. C., Goldstein, B. L., & Goldfried, M. R. (2018). Assertiveness training: A forgotten evidence‐based treatment. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice25(1), e12216.

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Disclaimer

This website serves informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional psychological advice. Engaging with the content here does not establish a doctor-patient relationship with Holly Batchelder, PhD. For any specific concerns, consult a qualified healthcare provider. Electronic communications with Holly Batchelder, PhD, are not considered privileged doctor-patient interactions. Holly Batchelder, PhD, PLLC © Copyright. All Rights Reserved.

© Holly Batchelder, PhD PLLC

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Serving PSYPACT states via telehealth

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

Disclaimer

This website serves informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional psychological advice. Engaging with the content here does not establish a doctor-patient relationship with Holly Batchelder, PhD. For any specific concerns, consult a qualified healthcare provider. Electronic communications with Holly Batchelder, PhD, are not considered privileged doctor-patient interactions. Holly Batchelder, PhD, PLLC © Copyright. All Rights Reserved.

© Holly Batchelder, PhD PLLC