If you’ve taken a look at your anger triggers, and are still feeling perplexed by where all your anger is coming from, you may need to look at your own health.
As a mom it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself at the best of times, and when you get busy you can really let it slip. 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 grouchy 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 and 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!
Six health checks for grouchy moms:
1. Thyroid – Both hyper and hypo thyroid conditions can cause mood changes. A friend of mine who later discovered she had a thyroid disorder described the run up to her diagnosis as being like having PMS all the time and being perpetually tired.
2. Anemia – A frequent issue amongst new moms, low iron levels 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 you’re brain doesn’t have the resources to maintain control!
Moral of the story – stick with frequent meals involving good fats, complex carbohydrates and protein.
I have this lunch planning printable that may be helpful.
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 all the time or grouchy all the time – don’t ignore it! You might have an underlying health issue that is causing problems and need some help. This is just the tip of the iceberg for staying healthy (for instance gluten makes me terribly grumpy and gives me migraines) – can you think of other things people should look into? What’s your number one health recommendation for moms?
Wishing you health,
For help on practical ways to parent when you’re a tired and grumpy mom, see: