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Feelings Part 2 – Stress and Irritability

Feelings chartSchool starts for our kids here in the Dallas area in just a few days and while for many parents (and kids) this is a good thing, it tends to create stress.

Dealing with the unknown – new teachers, new environments, new schedules and peers – can leave us feeling apprehensive, excited or some of both.

To some degree, the majority of feelings fall into one of the following basic categories:
Mad, Glad, Sad and Afraid.

When I teach about managing emotions, I add another category – Stressed. Stress seems to be a unique combination of some fear, anger or even sadness. For example, we fear of what might happen and experience frustration that we can’t control circumstances, ourselves or someone else.

We become irritable when we have allowed our inner resources to become depleted.

So irritability can show up as a result of not coping with stress effectively.


Here are three quick tools for managing stressors and decreasing irritability:

Understand that Stress is about our perception and interpretations of what is happening around us – the story we tell ourselves.

First, calm your physiological responses through breathing, physical movement or meditation. (Remember that our cognitive processes can’t work effectively under the influence of adrenaline and cortisol – the chemicals responsible for “fight, flight or freeze”).

Second, take a step back and be open to a different, maybe even a more positive perspective by asking yourself, “That’s one way to look at this situation. What are some other possibilities?”

Third, If you’ve been feeling irritable or impatient, where might you be depleted? Engage in some self-compassion and develop a plan for self-care activities that fill you back up.

Brief venting with a trusted friend
A form of creative expression – bake/cook, art, live music, needlework/crafts
Connecting with nature
Escaping with a good book or funny movie
Taking care of your body with water, healthy food & exercise and rest

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