You’re on edge. Someone says something that bugs you and before you know it, you’ve said something you regret.
We all do it every now and then. But sometimes it feels like you’re snapping at everyone, over things that normally wouldn’t even bother you. You try to stop but it just keeps happening.
It sucks to feel out of control. Snapping at people pushes them away and makes you feel like a jerk. If you find yourself stuck in a black hole of negativity, what can you do?
Take a step back
First, try to take a step back from the situation. Going to another room, removing yourself from a conversation, or going on a walk are all great ways to put some distance between you and the person you’re tempted to snap at.
There are also ways to “take a step back” without going anywhere at all. Try taking deep breaths or counting to ten slowly in your head (seriously—it may sound cheesy, but it works!). Check out the DIY tools and treatment resources on this site for more coping methods.
Think about what’s really bothering you
Once you’ve taken a step back, try to identify the feeling that’s putting you on edge. It could be something as simple as being hungry or tired. Or, maybe something recently happened in your life that has you feeling scared, angry, or stressed out. Mental illness can also make you irritable, so if you haven’t taken one of our mental health screens yet, try that. If mental illness is involved, it may be hard to stop without treating the illness, so try to learn more about how mental illness works and what you can do about it.
Talk to someone
It might help to tell the other person how you’re feeling. Try saying something like, “I’m just feeling really agitated right now. It has nothing to do with you.” Most people will probably understand, and they’ll be relieved that it’s not personal.
If they’re a close friend or family member, you might have a longer conversation about why you’re acting this way. Often those closest to us are the ones we lash out at the most, because we feel comfortable expressing our feelings around them. Talking it out may help prevent resentment between you. They may even be able to help you explore what’s going on in your life that has you in such an irritable mood.