Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Irritability and feeling on edge

2-minute read

If you are feeling unusually irritable or on edge, you may find it useful to talk to your doctor.

A family member or friend may also be able to help.

Here are some tips you may find useful too:

  1. Keep a diary. Rate your levels of anxiety and irritability on a daily basis for at least 2 weeks, and see if you can find a pattern. This will help you work out if there is a trigger for these feelings.
  2. Write a list of all the things that feel important to you. Now rate your levels of anxiety and irritability for each of these. Give the things that cause you little or no anxiety 0, and things that cause you the most anxiety 10. Everything else can be rated in between.
  3. Pay attention to what triggers feelings of irritability or anxiety. Notice if other things make you feel less anxious and more relaxed. Being aware of these ‘triggers’ can be helpful.

Relaxation techniques

Whenever you recognise the early signs of irritation or tension, you might like to try some relaxation techniques to see if they help improve your mood.

  • take a walk, go for a swim, or try another type of physical activity
  • do some breathing exercises
  • listen to music
  • watch television
  • read a book
  • take an exercise class such as yoga or pilates, or try doing it yourself at home
  • take a relaxing bath, or pamper yourself for an hour
  • do something creative, like painting or making something.

Relaxation is a skill that you can learn over time. What works for one person may not work for another, but over time you can discover the things that work to help you unwind and relax.

Where to get help

If you need help, talking to your doctor is a good place to start. If you’d like to find out more or talk to someone else, here are some organisations that can help:

  • MindSpot Clinic (anyone suffering from anxiety or depression) - call 1800 61 44 34.
  • beyondblue (anyone feeling depressed or anxious)- call 1300 22 4636 or chat online.
  • Black Dog Institute (people affected by depression and extreme mood swings) - online help.
  • Lifeline (anyone experiencing a crisis or thinking about suicide) - call 13 11 14 or chat online.
  • Suicide Call Back Service (anyone thinking about suicide) - call 1300 659 467.

Last reviewed: August 2017

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Quick relaxation techniques

Different relaxation techniques appeal to different people. Please try out each technique and rate it out of 10, then choose the one(s) that suit you best.

Read more on Black Dog Institute website

Relaxation exercises

Relaxation techniques can help to relax the mind and body and also manage some of the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Read more on beyondblue website

Manage stress with relaxation - ReachOut Parents

Relaxation techniques can be an effective way to manage stress both in the moment and over the long-term.

Read more on ReachOut.com website

Stress Management | myVMC

Dr Joe Kosterich talks about the things we can do to manage stress, including dealing with the source of stress, relaxation techniques, staying healthy and seeking help.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Alexander technique - myDr.com.au

The Alexander technique - used by many athletes, actors and other performers - may decrease tension, improve posture and breathing, and reduce symptoms such as lower back pain.

Read more on myDr website

Relaxation Therapy - BluePages

Find out if relaxation therapy is likely to help.

Read more on e-hub Web Services - Australian National University (ANU) website

Reiki - BluePages

Find out if reiki is likely to help.

Read more on e-hub Web Services - Australian National University (ANU) website

Massage - Better Health Channel

One of the immediate benefits of massage is a feeling of deep relaxation and calm.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

How to practice mindfulness | Relaxation | ReachOut Australia

Mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment. Practising mindfulness can help you cope with everyday life and deal with tough times.

Read more on ReachOut.com website

Generalised anxiety disorder

Most people feel anxious and worried from time to time when faced with certain situations. For example, it is common to feel tense or worried before exams, speaking in public or going for a job interview. At times, a certain level of anxiety can help people feel alert and focused.

Read more on beyondblue website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo