We all feel grumpy now and then. Just like when our kids are in a stinky mood, we assess if they're tired, hungry, or overstimulated. There are 6 health checks you should do if you find yourself grumpy all the time.
There have certainly been times when I find myself thinking, “Ugh. Why am I so grumpy?”
And I share in another post about how to take a look at your anger triggers, which is a great place to start in figuring out why you might be feeling grumpy.
Table of contents
Difference Between Anger Triggers and Irritability Causes
When we look at anger triggers, the irritability you're experiencing is something you're usually able to turn around. If you're feeling angry, irritable, and/or pessimistic a lot or most of the time, that's another matter. And it's one that should alert you that you need to address your own health. Feeling grumpy all the time is definitely not a warning signal that you should ignore.
As moms, we easily put “take care of yourself” at the bottom of the to-do list even during the best of times. When life throws you unexpected challenges, your schedule is too busy, or the kids get sick, your own self-care can go from “could be better” to completely neglected.
If you're finding yourself in this grumpy-all-the-time boat, make yourself a priority immediately. Your whole family will be better off for it.
There are a few things you can start taking action on right away if you're feeling unusually irritable and tired.
Ways to Feel Less Irritable
- Get some movement into your daily routine — I know you know this. Movement = endorphins = feeling better. Just find a way to make it happen.
- Eat regular meals — that handful of goldfish and your kids' leftover chicken nuggets isn't going to cut it for your daily nutritional intake. If meal planning and prep feel like too much right now, shoot for just one healthy meal a day and keep some easy snacks on hand that are just for you.
- Sleep! — Put your phone to bed an hour before you plan to go to sleep. Make the choice that an extra hour is better for you than that extra episode on Netflix and get the sleep you need.
- Make a plan — research shows that when we write things down we are way more likely to do them. Write down the steps you'll take to make yourself a priority.
6 Health Checks for Grumpy Moms
We make sure our children get wellness checks and bring them to a physician when we have concerns. But many of us put off doing things like going in for a regular check-up.
For some of us, that means we're overlooking serious health issues or suffering needlessly – feeling grumpy and tired all the time when we could be feeling better with a little TLC. Many treatable health issues can cause exhaustion or irritability.
I asked a health professional about issues that may cause mood changes to gather information for this post, but of course you'll want to do your own research and talk to your own doctor!
Both hyper and hypo thyroid conditions can cause mood changes. A friend of mine who discovered she had a thyroid disorder described the symptoms she experienced before her diagnosis as feeling like having PMS all the time and being perpetually tired. If you're finding it extremely difficult to regulate your moods, noticing changes in your appetite, hair loss, and chronic fatigue, definitely ask to have your thyroid levels checked.
A frequent issue amongst new moms, anemia is caused by low iron levels and can leave you feeling tired and grumpy.
3. Blood Sugar
This goes back to regular healthy meals (though of course, deeper issues such as diabetes would definitely cause irritability.) Swings in blood sugar can be a serious cause of a bad temper.
You know the drill – eat regular meals with protein for lasting energy. It's almost too simple, so a lot of us make it a low priority and try to get by grabbing simple carbohydrates like crackers or chips or sugary foods for a quick fix. The problem is these cause your blood sugar to go through peaks and valleys and this leads to poor concentration and poor self control.
Simple sugars are absorbed so quickly that the body over-reacts and sends out too much insulin – causing low blood sugar. (source)
When I'm tired I CRAVE sugar, so I know it's a tough one, but did you know that your self-control relies heavily on glucose – if your blood sugar is low your brain doesn't have the resources to maintain control!
Moral of the story – stick with frequent meals involving good fats, complex carbohydrates, and protein.
Grab this lunch planning printable to track what you're eating.
4. B Vitamins
B-vitamins are critical for nerve and brain function as well as for converting carbohydrates into energy. You can take a B-complex vitamin and also can ask your doctor about testing for low levels of some B-vitamins if you suspect this might be a problem for you.
Over the past several years, evidence has mounted that B vitamins—B12 and folate in particular—may ward off depression and other mental problems. A Finnish study is only the latest to link B vitamins to maintenance of good mood. – Psychology Today
5. Caffeine Intake
I will be the last one to tell you to stop drinking coffee because I would be a major hypocrite. I love my morning coffee. However, it is worth considering that caffeine can cause irritability, and notice if you need to cut back. Especially on days when you don't have enough sleep and have a long to-do list that is not going to get done, too much caffeine may add to the likelihood that you will snap at your family.
6. Hormonal Cycles
Have you noticed PMS being a major cause of anger or grouchiness? If you notice your temper is linked to your cycles you may want to ask a health practitioner about ideas to help even your hormonal swings. Some gynecologists will have ideas; you might also consider asking a naturopath, acupuncturist, or midwife.
If you feel down or grumpy all the time – don't ignore it! You might have an underlying health issue that is causing problems and you need (and deserve!) to get some help. This is just the tip of the iceberg for staying healthy (for instance gluten makes me terribly grumpy and gives me migraines).
For help on practical ways to parent when you're tired and grumpy see:
I'd love to know if you have other suggestions!
Tell me in the comments if you have other health conditions people should consider looking into or share your number one health recommendation for moms.