When we’re under stress, we tend to become cranky and irritable. Stress, often caused by too many demands and not enough “downtime,” is one of the major contributors to aggression or impulsive behaviour. Stress can come on with sudden unexpected events such as the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, a marital conflict or a global pandemic!
Stress can also come on slowly when we are stuck in a difficult situation for a long time. Stress is sneaky. It lies beneath the surface, often unnoticed because we are so preoccupied with whatever it is that is stressing us out.
Stress seems to wipe away all those excellent skills we have. We snap at our kids or make sarcastic remarks to our partner. We say things that we don’t really mean and then feel awful. When that happens, we try harder to be nice and then become indignant when being nice doesn’t work. “I asked you nicely, why don’t you just do it?”
Perhaps coming to terms with the feelings that come up during this time can ease some of the tension. It is natural to feel irritated and annoyed by people you love when you are living under the same roof and possibly spending way too much time together. It makes sense that frustration levels run high when you are working from home and don’t have the time or privacy to do your work. You feel guilty when your kids are spending too much time on screens. And how frustrating is it to constantly remind your kids about social distancing? All of these feelings make sense; the problem is feeling guilty about having them.
When we feel guilty for feeling irritated, annoyed, and frustrated, we shove those feelings down. When that happens, we eventually lose it and then we feel guilty for losing it. To jump out of this cycle, pay attention to those feelings before they pile up.
You have three choices:
1. Speak up and say something. Describe your feelings and needs without throwing the blame ball. “I’m feeling overwhelmed, I need some time, space, help…”
2. Take action. What can you control? Sometimes we just have to do something like drop a task or ask for help.
3. Drop it wholeheartedly. Can you find peace with something that might be out of your control?
Now, take a breath and give yourself some love.