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There's A Reason You're Feeling More Irritable Than Usual (And It's Down To Pandemirritation)

There's A Reason You're Feeling More Irritable Than Usual (And It's Down To Pandemirritation)

This year has been tough on everyone - to say the least.

From seemingly endless lockdowns to social distancing, support bubbles and stockpiling, we've collectively been through a *lot* - so it's no surprise that many of us are feeling a little more irritable than usual.

People have dubbed it "pandemirritation", and there is a perfectly reasonable explanation behind it.

Kirsty Peterson, from Clacton, Essex, says she first noticed feeling "increased irritability" towards her friends about two months into lockdown.

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If you're feeling more irritated towards your friends and family than you normally would, there's a reason why (Credit: Pexels)
If you're feeling more irritated towards your friends and family than you normally would, there's a reason why (Credit: Pexels)

The 25-year-old also noticed that she started to become "snappy" with family members. "Small things that I never cared about before like music playing, or people walking into the kitchen whilst I'm trying to cook, or people making small talk and singing have just become incredibly irritating to me," she explains.

"When people try and make jokes, I would usually laugh out of politeness but now I just find them irritating and don't even respond. I can feel myself becoming less tolerable and patient with people and I don't feel like myself."

Women have been sharing their pandemirritation experiences on Twitter too. One woman wrote: "The most annoying thing about living with someone during lockdown but you're either a) getting irritated by them or b) irritating them, is it's impossible to be like "oh I'll go out for the day". Where???"

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Another added: "Spending lockdown with your boyfriend sounds fun only an hour in and he's already annoying me".


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Psychologist Emma Kenny explains that feeling easily irritated is far from unusual during lockdown. "Everyone can experience it and everyone is," she tells Tyla.

"It makes sense that people are going to be more frustrated with those [who] they would usually be more patient and peaceful and peaceful with. Because when you have pressure added to your world, whether that's economic, social, familial, there's going to have an impact on mood."

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"Unfortunately we have had a collision of stress. So, you may be working at home, with children at home, dealing with an economic slump or worried about your health and also separated from your family.

"If you think about each individual level, that can be a stressor. When you add them all together, that can be quite a powerful stressor.

"So, some people would be irritated, and some people would just be downright depressed about all of these things."

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She adds: "If we look at the actual brain itself, there is an area of your brain called the prefrontal cortex. That particular part of the brain is excellent for conversing and understanding and it's terribly impacted on by stress.

"So, the moment that particular area of your brain has adrenaline attack it, which happens, if you think about at the moment, constant traumatisation through the news, that impacts on the area and leads to fear. Then the amygdala takes over and the amygdala is really good for getting you out of the way of a fast moving vehicle but it's really not great at driving you through life."

This can all have an impact on behaviour by making people act in ways that are more "instinctive", such as being snappy and irritated.

Maintaining a healthy diet and sleeping pattern are two of the ways you deal with increased irritability during lockdown (Credit: Pexels)
Maintaining a healthy diet and sleeping pattern are two of the ways you deal with increased irritability during lockdown (Credit: Pexels)

During the first lockdown Kirsty worked from home which meant she was with her family and partner, whom she lives with, all the time. When the government encouraged people to return to work Kirsty returned two days a week. "I did feel much better at the office!" she says.

But since 'Lockdown 2' was announced last month, many of us feel we are back to square one.

"I still feel the same sense of irritation during the second lockdown," Kirsty says. "But this time I also feel very tired and lethargic."

Going forward, Emma says there are ways for people to deal with feeling more irritated than normal, such as meditation, exercising and maintaining a healthy diet and sleep pattern.

"The most important thing to do is always use your emotions as prompts. So when we feel irritated, you need to feel the irritation and go, 'what is this telling me? I need to go and take a minute to calm down, I need to speak to somebody I trust.'

Emma says there are lots of ways to deal with feeling irritated or agitated during lockdown (Credit: Pexels)
Emma says there are lots of ways to deal with feeling irritated or agitated during lockdown (Credit: Pexels)

"Secondly, it's always on the whole related to stress and worry. So you basically are irritated because you have these inner concerns. It's also important to figure out those fears What is it that you're really worried about? What is the baseline fear that's residing underneath that irritability?

"If you sit with the feeling and figure it out, instead of reacting to it, you can get strategic around it and that means that you can pull back from the judgments and are hostile to people around you".

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock

Topics: lockdown, Life, Coronavirus, Health

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Gregory Robinson

Gregory is a journalist working for Tyla. After graduating with a master's degree in journalism, he has worked for both print and online publications and is particularly interested in TV, (pop) music and lifestyle. He loves Madonna, teen dramas from the 90s and prefers tea over coffee. Get in touch gregory.robinson@tyla.com