How to shake off grumpiness
January 16, 2018 8:36 PM   Subscribe

I'm grumpy and short-tempered these days. Probable causes are work frustrations and a lack of a social life outside of work. But it may also have to do with some life changes that my mother is facing (unwillingly separating from my father). How do I shake off this feeling, on a day to day basis and for the longterm?

The work frustrations are the most pervasive of all of them. I work at a large company and have been in the same role for a few years, that I thought I would have moved on from by now. I like my immediate co-workers but their working style is pretty different than my own, by design. They have to make decisions quickly, while I look at data more as part of my job. Sometimes I narrowmindedly see their actions as brash and disrespectful, either because they don't keep me in the loop, or are unresponsive. I question myself about whether there is a better way to communicate with them. Beyond this, it's difficult to get a complete answer to questions at work at times. We have shared service centers that popped up a couple of years ago, and despite the promise of reducing work... there is actually a big lack of clarity and poor communication with those teams. The simplest question can lead you on a wild goose chase with people in 5 different timezones. In the long-run, it feels like there's actually more work to do.

Although my days start off well enough, more and more these days I find myself trying to avoid questions so that I don't get bogged down, or spiraling into frustration by the end of the day. I'm an introvert (and if you follow Myers Briggs I'm an INTJ through and through) and am exhausted sometimes by interactions at work (trying to get answers to questions, prioritize what I should be working on, and endless meetings), in addition to the aforementioned issue with my mother.

Regarding my mother, she's separating from my father and isn't shy about sharing her feelings with me and doesn't want advice. More grumpiness ensues.

I don't feel like this is me, at least not who I'd like to be. I'm frustrated and bothered that I feel frustrated and bothered, and wonder why I can't be a bigger person or just let stuff go.

I'd appreciate any advice on how to get ahead of the grumpiness, or deal with it once it happens... day to day, and for the longterm.
posted by watrlily to Work & Money (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Are you getting enough sleep (7+ hours a night), eating relatively well, drinking enough water, getting some mild exercise where you can? The sleep thing is probably the most important. I'm kind of churlish anyway but if I'm sleep-deprived? MAJORLY CRANKY. Even an extra hour of sleep helps my mood tremendously (...she says while typing this comment at midnight on a work night.)
posted by Aquifer at 9:08 PM on January 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Vigorous exercise. If I go to the gym, I'm too tired to be mad at coworkers. I also pace myself better - I'm less likely to make big, structured plans for the day, I just chip away at whatever is urgent and doable - I'm less efficient but also much more chill and able to roll with the unexpected.

It may also help that sore muscles give me an obvious reason for being grumpy and I can attribute bad mood to that rather than everyone being annoying...
posted by momus_window at 9:16 PM on January 16, 2018 [5 favorites]

Best answer: For me, when this has been job-related, it didn't go away fully until I left the job. I was admittedly unhappy with some things in my personal life, but I spent much more time at work than at home, and my work misery completely pervaded my home life. I would start off the day intending to be positive, and end up miserable. Are there any changes you can make to the work environment, or to the way you approach seemingly-unchangeable peers, to lift the negative feelings a little?

Currently, my stress/antagonist is some very-unchangeable things in my home life. For this, the only thing that has really helped, like momus_window says, is exercise. I have taken up various types of yoga, and being so busy focusing on my breathing and the position of my body distracts me completely from being grumpy. I usually go around 6 or 7pm, and I find that if nothing **new** triggers my negative thoughts, this lasts the rest of the evening and into the next morning. I also sleep better, which helps with my mood HUGELY.
posted by assenav at 9:54 PM on January 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Weird Al Yankovic.

I'm not kidding. Yes, exercise and eating well and sleeping enough and self-care and getting out of the crappy situations are all immensely helpful, but when I'm full of angst, silly music, anything in the Dr. Demento oeuvre, helps. (As does listening to whole albums of TV theme songs.) Silliness in musical form offers a great cure, and laughing has been shown to improve blood pressure and decrease anxiety.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 10:19 PM on January 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: All of the above, but also keep in mind that you can't control your emotions, only what you do with them. Notice that you are grumpy, acknowledge that, then try not to beat yourself up about it (being upset with yourself for being grumpy will probably only make you grumpier) - it's okay to be grumpy. Instead focus on stuff like, what do you need to do, eg. what systems can you set up, to keep yourself from taking your grumpy out on bystanders or letting it get in the way of your goals, work performance, friendships, etc.

Grumpiness, i.e. irritability, is a possible depression symptom, too, and low-grade situational depression would be a reasonable response to the circumstances you've outlined. Be compassionate with yourself. Do what you can to build a better work-life balance, see if you can instigate better communication systems at your work, keep in mind that your mother's situation is temporary so that stressor will eventually change, but maybe also read a bit on setting and maintaining boundaries with family so that there is a different dynamic the next time she has a major life stressor. With all of that, set reasonable and attainable goals - you can make requests and suggestions, but ultimately your bosses have to choose to change work systems, and your co-workers and mother have to choose to change their behavior. Maintain compassion for yourself; that (in my experience) is key.
posted by eviemath at 4:02 AM on January 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I could have written this question a few years ago, except sub in an unhappy relationship for your situation with your mother.

A lot of it was solved for me when my job changed. I started pushing for change and making it clear I wasn't happy, and over a year my line manager helped me to move away from the aspects of the work that I hated and towards the parts of my job that I found more invigorating and inspiring, whilst changing my title to something more appropriate, and moving up a level in seniority - as much to get my job done as anything, I didn't think of it as a promotion so much as a necessary enabler to what they were asking me to do (ie. some people will never prioritise answering your questions if they don't see you as important enough).

What I'm saying is, for the longer term, I think you need to deal with the root cause (or at least, the one of the two root causes that you can actively change). In the short term, try to envisage a day when your job makes you happy and you feel good. Will you look back and be proud of having been snappy with that person on the phone, or mean to the shop assistant? I found that kept me away from the grumps a bit when I was in the thick of it like you are now.
posted by greenish at 4:16 AM on January 17, 2018

Best answer: I only have some short term advice.

It's okay to ask your mother not to share as many feelings with you if you don't want to hear it or it's just too much.

A CBT skill: "I'm feeling and ." So you might say to yourself, "I'm grumpy and I'm going to this meeting." "I'm feeling sad and I'm doing this data analysis." The idea is to name your emotion, acknowledge it, and move on to what you have to do at that moment. It's not a long-term solution, but I have found that something about just naming what I am feeling and talking to myself this way can be really helpful.
posted by purple_bird at 9:38 AM on January 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

As a very short-term grump-easer, I recommend creating a Reddit account just for following all the cute animal subreddits and a few other positive ones. This is a go-to solution for my son and me. We almost always come out of it a bit more balanced with the inexplicable grumps diminished and with a little more ability to see the big picture. A visit to /r/CatsWithHats/ will cure many ills. Here are a few others to get you started.
posted by Mo Nickels at 4:42 PM on January 17, 2018

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