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

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 2015

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 727 results

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

Progressive muscle relaxation

One of the body’s reactions to fear and anxiety is muscle tension. This can result in feeling “tense”, or relaxation can lead to muscle aches and pains, as well as leaving some people feeling exhausted.

Read more on Centre for Clinical Interventions website

Relaxation training | Australia

Get into relaxation training with this step-by-step guide to progressive muscle relaxation.

Read more on website

Other sources of support

In addition to treatment from a health professional, there are other things people with anxiety and/or depression can do to support their recovery

Read more on beyondblue website

Calming technique

Everyone knows that breathing is an essential part of life, but did you know that breathing plays an essential role in anxiety?

Read more on Centre for Clinical Interventions website

Relaxation Therapy - BluePages

Relaxation therapy refers to a number of techniques designed to teach someone to be able to relax voluntarily. Programs most often include training in special breathing and progressive muscle relaxation exercises designed to reduce physical and mental tension. Massage, watching relaxing videos or listening to special music for relaxation do not constitute relaxation therapy, although they are sometimes included as part of a relaxation therapy program.

Read more on e-hub Mental Health - Australian National University (ANU) 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 website

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

Young Adult Health - Health Topics - Stress and relaxation

Stress is a part of life. It is the bodys way of preparing you for a difficult situation, by releasing hormones into your blood stream that help you respond. If you are feeling stressed a lot of time, it could be a sign that you need some help coping or need to change your lifestyle.

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Types of anxiety

The 6 most common anxiety disorders are: generalised anxiety disorder, social phobia, specific phobias, OCD, PTSD and panic disorder

Read more on beyondblue website

Check your symptoms Find a health service

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information 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

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