Generally speaking, with anxiety, it can be hard to mentally get past something like our inability to control our own energy levels. We lay plans for the future, not quite knowing which version of ourselves will be exacting those plans.
Ultimately, it comes down to the mentality that, no matter how much we want to control every aspect of our existence, a lot of time with anxiety, it’s merely about playing the cards you’ve been dealt to the best of your ability.
In this episode, Allison, who has dealt with issues around energy longer, talks to Chris about his recent up and down energy levels, and they eventually get to a place of peace about the whole thing. We can only hope the same for you!
I’m Anxious About Energy Levels Because…
- It’s something which is often out of our control, though how we deal with is it is very much in our control.
- There’s a tendency to want to be a perfectionist, and “perfect people” don’t have to deal with fatigue. But, of course, “perfect people” also don’t exist.
- Each day can be different with energy, and a lack of consistency can be frustrating.
- Chris is used to having the energy of 16 rabbits, and some days he feels like he’s only harnessing the power of one tired hare.
3 Tips If You Have Anxiety About Energy Levels
- Remember that you’re often comparing yourself to others, and thinking about how difficult your own struggles are, when everybody faces struggles.
- Accept where you’re at. If you’re tired, think first about how you can rest, not about how you can pump yourself with caffeine etc.
- Understand that, as with so much else with anxiety, energy tends to have cycles. You’ll have peaks and valleys, but the track is to try to never get too high or too low.
IAA 47: I’m Anxious About Energy Levels
Episode Description: Allison and Chris first ensure that listeners know that they’re talking about “energy levels,” as it relates to human beings, and not the energy sector, and then dive into the complicated world of maintaining a baseline of energy as someone with anxiety.
The truth is that, with anxiety, sometimes our best laid plans are flipped on their head when we wake up and realize that, unfortunately, it feels as if we’ve been tranquilized. They talk in-depth about the important of accepting ourselves as we are, as opposed to as we wish we were – and how, truthfully, they fail at that more than they’d like.
Allison also kind of becomes a farmer, or at least uses quite a bit of farm imagery. You’ll see what we mean.
Speakers: Christopher Mitchell & Allison Green
Christopher Mitchell 0:01
Welcome to I’m Anxious About, a podcast or two friends commiserate about our respective anxieties on a new topic each week. I’m Christopher Mitchell…
Allison Green 0:10
And I’m Allison Green. And today we are anxious about energy levels.
So we couldn’t really pick the best title for this episode. And we weren’t sure if we’re like, Okay, if it’s “I’m Anxious About Energy,” people are either gonna think that we’re talking about fossil fuel and oil, or they’re gonna think we’re talking about like spirits and New Age crystals and whatnot. And it’s neither.
We’re talking about just sort of navigating the own ebbs and flows of our energy and how we wake up feeling each day and throughout the day, and what we try to do with that, and we’ll be speaking from the perspective of the intersections of our own mental health struggles, I being someone with some ADHD tendencies, but tend more towards depression, Chris, having ADHD, and just sort of seeing where the energy levels fluctuate and how we deal with that as it relates to anxiety. So that wouldn’t all fit though in an episode title. So we just settled with “energy levels.”
Christopher Mitchell 1:43
The character count, it was like “you’re 1000 characters over, so we couldn’t include that whole tangent.”
Allison Green 1:49
Yeah, we tried and then Podbean shut down our account.
Christopher Mitchell 1:52
That’s true. Yeah, they did. And now we’re back up on pirate servers. Now I’m just kidding. We went with energy levels, but I think it’s good to clarify that so that people know what we’re chatting about. And this feels like an especially timely episode, I think, because I don’t know, I can only speak for myself and I will speak for myself during our check in at the beginning, when just talking about how I’ve never had more ups and downs with energy, or I never could rely less on how I might feel tomorrow morning from an energy perspective, which can make things a bit difficult, you know?
For somebody like myself, as I try to write lists for the next day, you know, it’s somewhat complicated when you’re like, “I don’t know whether I’m going to wake up and feel, you know, 84 without meds or 19 and caffeinated. And so there’s always that roll of the dice. Only those two options, by the way, Allisson, and there’s no, there’s just no in between. It’s just those two options.
Allison Green 2:49
Yeah, of course. I mean, I get that. Yeah, I believe that
Christopher Mitchell 2:56
Part of this episode, we’ll be talking about the in between, though, because of course, there’s more to it than that. But I guess before we get too deep into it, we ought to check in so people know where our energy levels are right now. So I shall ask you, Allison, on a scale of one to waking up from a nap and not knowing where or who you are. Where are you at?
Allison Green 3:19
That is such an unsettling feeling. And like, it’s worse when you wake up at like six or seven, and you look at your phone, and you look outside at the sky, and you’re like, “I don’t know if it’s am or pm and it could well be either.” At least that’s how I nap I’m like out and it’s like someone just knocked me over the head in a cartoon. And it could be an hour,or could be the next day, you don’t know – roll the dice.
I’m fairly anxious today, I would say a six. Mostly just physical sensations of anxiety that I’m kind of chalking up to changing location and just the effect that that’s had on my body. So, you know, people with anxiety really love to jump to conclusions, and especially as it relates to physical sensations in their body. And so when I was living in Sofia, there was a lot of smog in the winter. And I was waking up every day with like a sore throat which sucked but like, I could at least count on the fact that a sore throat was not a “call an ambulance sound the alarms prepare my funeral arrangements.” I knew that that was just like, “Oh, this is just how I feel every morning when I wake up in Sofia.”
Now I’m in California and I’m having spring allergies. But of course you know, my brain is going like a mile a minute being like, “you feel you feel that slight twinge in your chest. Oh, oh. Oh, you got you got the Rona, got the Ron”a and it’s just been trying to talk to myself and be like, “okay, Alison, you got your test done. You’re negative. You really haven’t been doing anything risky. All your precautionary measures have been good till now. They’re probably still good, you’re probably fine.
But I think my brain just you know, is kind of combining the changes I feel in my body with the, you know, change in location and the change in like sort of perceived danger because I’ve been watching the US on the news and being like, “Oh my god, it looks like a Corona hellscape.” And then I get to where I am in California and things are really well organized here. I’m actually really impressed with all of like the local businesses and how well they’ve adapted and how well the local population has adapted to staying safe. Like everyone is so respectful of like mask mandates and whatnot, complete 180 from Bulgaria. And so it’s been nice to see that but I think my senses are still kind of heightened to like this heightened level of perceived danger. So anything I feel in my body, I’m like, “something’s wrong.” Like an animal who like thinks that they hear like a slight rustle in the bushes. I kind of have that sort of heightened instinct almost right now. I’m just trying to be like, “okay, body, it’s normal to have some congestion in your chest during the spring if you have allergies.” So just trying to sort of talk to myself and be like, human beings coughed before there was Coronavirus.
Christopher Mitchell 6:21
I’m picturing you as this, like deer in the forest. A leaf falls from anywhere and you’re like…
Allison Green 6:27
yeah, just off, just off. Yeah, that’s pretty much me right now, actually. So it’s fairly accurate. What about you, Chris, on a scale of one to waking up from a nap having no idea where or who or even when you are?
Christopher Mitchell 6:40
Well, firstly, I think you know I don’t nap. And that’s partially to do with this weird FOMO that I have with missing out on things. I get scared that I’m going to fall asleep and miss a day or like…It’s strange. We’ll have to do an episode about this at some point. But you know, I haven’t napped in…
Allison Green 6:57
I’m anxious about naps, too. So…
Christopher Mitchell 6:59
Okay. All right. Well, let’s let’s add that to our list. I mean, that’s a good one. We can definitely talk about that. But anyway, where am I at today? Probably, like a four or five. I’ll say probably five, to be honest with you. And it’s just largely to do with the fact that this is a very timely episode, because you talked a lot about those physical sensations. And I’m just, you know, literally, I’m just really feeling my energy levels are just kind of depleted right now.
I think, you know, the arrival of spring and sunshine is glorious, I went to do the really exciting task earlier of going to get cat litter from the car in the garage, to bring back up for Kotu, my cat, and I went outside for a second and I was like, “you know, this is glorious.” When you’re outside, you’re like, “Oh, you know, I really think I’m just sort of climatizing to the fact that this long and horrid winter might finally be over. And my energy levels catching up.
But I think you know, I’ve mentioned this over the last couple weeks, I’m putting in a lot of hours on a couple projects that are almost completed. And I think, you know, I’m just kind of spearing that last energy towards that. And I think it’s been a little bit frustrating for me to wake up in the morning sometimes, but I know I have a lot that I feel I need to get done. And I just don’t feel like I have the energy reserves to do it. And I have the tendency to get just downright angry at myself, like really frustrated in this like bizarre sense. Like “you knew what you had to do today, you wrote the list for today, why aren’t you feeling 100%?”
And of course, that’s ridiculous, right? Because it’s not as if I have total control over how I feel all the time. Nor is it reasonable to expect myself to be operating 100% all the time. So, you know, I wish I could underline that for myself a little bit better. But right now, I’m just kind of working through that. And I think I’m it just wouldn’t be fair to the podcast if I didn’y openly mention that. And then I think the other thing too is when I do wake up and I don’t feel like I have that energy, I’ll get to work. And usually I can kind of work through it. And that’s great. But, you know, sometimes you work through it, and you end up more tired and you get frustrated at yourself. It seems like there’s no way that I’m able to really be good at not ending with me just really pissed off at myself -which is ridiculous.
Because like if Bri was facing the same thing, of course, I would be like, “Hey, why don’t you just like lie down for a second relax?” but then in my case, I still could be a lot kinder to myself, I think. And sometimes I feel like I’m really good at the whole setting reasonable expectations for myself. I’ve at least I’ve gotten better at that. And then some days, I just feel like – I’m just like almost like, just impatient. “Why don’t you feel better? you should feel better! You’re tired!: Anyways, I’m facing more of the physical symptoms of anxiety than I faced in the past, which you know, may have something to do with the fact that I’ve been locked up for a year. But anyways, that’s some of the stuff I wanted to talk through. I don’t want the intro to be the entire episode. But I think that’s a fair lead into the things we’re gonna be talking about today. I will say probably not an accident that we chose this topic for today.
Allison Green 9:56
Definitely not. No. And I think that’s a good thing. I 100% feel you. And I think the physical sensations of anxiety are extremely tiring. And if you’re feeling that, it can kind of create like a feedback loop, where you start to get tired, because, you know, they’re just like these tiny little things -your heart beating faster, your breathing, inhaling faster, your muscles being slightly tensed. All these like little tiny changes. It’s almost like you’re exercising a little bit all the time, kind of and, but like getting nothing done.
But like, you know, I think it’s fair to think of that, about the fact that anxiety does take up your energy, right? And if you have a particularly anxious day, I call them like anxiety hangovers, where if I have a really heightened anxiety day, the next day, I’m often exhausted and dedicated to like recovering from that anxiety day. Because it was just, I just need that kind of day of sort of buffer between that and trying to sort of regain whatever is my benchmark of normality, so to speak. So I think it is perfectly normal to have anxiety tie in with energy levels. And then of course, your judgments about your energy levels can also feed the anxiety. So it can go both ways and create feedback loops. So it’s just a real fun circle that once you get in, you get hyper fixated on.”
Christopher Mitchell 11:24
Like, I can give you a hyper specific example, I was literally reading notes before we recorded (I always write some notes just to get those notes out of my head and kind of get my head around what I hope to say because I try to make sure we’re not just totally wasting people’s time.) And literally, like, I did a classic move where I was like feeling pretty exhausted on Saturday, but I was like, “You know what, like, I want to just get moving. So, instead of doing something reasonable, I decided to do like a two hour workout with like, kettlebells, and all kinds of stuff. So my forearms are like, a little bit sore. And I’m writing notes to prepare for this podcast, and my forearms are like still sore and tense. And by the end of each paragraph I’m writing, I’m literally just like, “Wow, look at you Chris, real piece of shit – your arm hurts from writing notes, you know.” And the problem is that the feedback loop you’re talking about, it’s just like, because of the physical sensations. It’s this constant reminder. And you have to really work towards not having that equal an instant output. Like, “I’m terrible. I’m bad.” Like, “this is shit, I should feel terrible.” so on so forth. Like even this morning, I woke up and just decided to do some like stretching to try and get some some energy back and stuff. And that was pretty helpful. And it worked for me yesterday. And I think that was good. But you know, I just think I also lacked patience in some regard to where I want to be better, like, quote unquote, better immediately.
I want my energy back, I want this, that and the other. And I think I’m happy I am where I am. As far as understanding myself well enough to know that like, you kind of have to press pause and realize, you can’t play the role of the hands out child like, “gimme, gimme, gimme, I want this, I want that I want this, and I’m not this, I’m not that” and kind of take yourself for where you are.
But that’s been a real struggle for me, just in my own journey with anxiety is just to understand, like, some days I wake up, and I need to just respect where I am, as opposed to, you know, pushing myself to where I want to go. It’s kind of like I’m overriding my own Google Maps and and I’m driving 100 kilometers farther than where I should be going that day. I think it would be better sometimes if I just had a little bit more respect for where I was at, as opposed to just immediately hitting the override button. And this is something I’ve been dealing with like for years and years and years. That is my tendency is. We’ve talked about this before, and this relates to energy where I’ll like, I’ll just push to the point where it’s not like the day before, I might face burnout. and like “time to take a break.” It’s just like, “Oh, no, now I’ve burnt out.” So I need to take a couple days to like, get my head back on straight. Yeah. Yeah. So anyways, that working towards maybe, yeah, listening to yourself a little bit more and being more preventative about these sorts of things.
Allison Green 14:04
Yeah, I just had like the most asinine realization that the words rest, and restore and restoration and restorative are all linked, like etymologically, which should be quite obvious to literally anyone who can recognize that the first four letters are the same of all of those words. But I didn’t really think about the really important role that rest plays – and replenishing and just refilling – those are all synonyms. Our energy levels, and just making sure we’re able to be present in our current day and more purposeful and more driven towards our goals rather than just kind of distracted by shiny objects.
I know that when I haven’t rested enough, it takes me longer to get the same result as when I’ve rested enough. And if I sit down and work kind of intentionally and purposefully, I can usually accomplish what I want to and far less time and far less anguish than when I just pushed myself forward for the sake of saying I can clock these many hours with this much work. And learning to work with that has been really key to my energy levels.
You know, I’m someone with depression, and a rather mild form of it, but definitely one that needs to be like monitored and often treated with medication. And so for me, my energy levels are really unpredictable. And some days, I know, I just need to give in. Usually, it’s like three or four days sometimes to just rest. And it’s like, I’m just really burned out, I just had some particularly challenging days, or just kind of reaching a valley in my energy levels, I’ve found it so helpful to just be like, “resting for days is not going to kill me.” And for me, of course, it’s easy to say that because I create my own schedule, I know it can be really hard when you don’t create your own schedule. And I often struggled with this when I was teaching, because obviously, you can’t set your own schedule with that. And it’s not something you can show up to halfway mentally. It’s a job where you need to be there with your brain as much as your body. And even if your brain wants to check out you can’t really fully let your brain check out. It just doesn’t really happen. You override yourself in that regard.
Christopher Mitchell 16:33
Oh, yeah, it’s hard not to mention, there’s a whole culture in education where you basically, unless you’re holding on for life, you are going into school, right? Because it causes a commotion. And so you have the situation, if you called in and you’re like, “I’m feeling rather fatigued today. I think I’m out.” They’d be like, “ummmmm. You know, I mean, obviously, that’ just not a built in excuse for a teacher, for sure.
Allison Green 17:01
Yeah. And there’s such a weird kind perverse kind of grind culture with being a teacher where like, you’re supposed to be almost run ragged. And it’s almost a contest to see, like whose day is latest at school, and who preps their lessons the hardest, and who does the most unpaid labor. And for me, that was just something that was really – I just didn’t opt in to all of that. I was like, “I know what I need to do. I know what hours I’ll do it in. And I’ve got it.” But at first, I would really push myself and it was like I was working, you know, 12 hours a day, and it was exhausting. I had zero energy.
Christopher Mitchell 17:42
It’s not sustainable right?
Allison Green 17:43
It’s not! That’s exactly what I realized. And I realized that, because I was working in special education at the time, it was more important to be rested, and emotionally available and emotionally flexible then it was to be extremely prepared, because at any minute, you know, one kid could just like fly off into a meltdown. And then all my preparations wouldn’t even matter. Anyway, it mattered more that I was adaptable and available emotionally and physically and had the energy to just, you know, have that patience.
And maybe some people could do both, but I kind of had to pick. And not to say that I wouldn’t prepare. But I definitely erred on the side of being like, it’s more important for me to be a good person than to be doing A+ planning and preparation at all times. Then I reached a certain level of knowing how to keep things going, and I could kind of ad lib a little more, which I think is an important part of teaching as well.
But this is not an education podcast. This is a mental health podcast. So going back to it, I think season has a lot to do with energy. And it can be really hard, especially during the winter. I haven’t been diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder. But I do notice my depression tends to be a little bit cyclical and tends to get worse in the winter. I mentioned in our Daylight Savings Time Episode, which I can’t recall the number of the top of my head. But we’ll put that in the show notes. I talked about how that’s kind of like the mark for me of when I kind of can expect that real energy drop when I suddenly lose that hour of the day in an already diminishing time. It’s really a struggle. So for me, kind of just accepting that winter is a period of rest and not so much growth, but it’s still essential to everything.
Like I don’t know for some reason I’m thinking about grapevinez – maybe it’s because I’m in California and I’m like looking at a hill, and there’s no grapes on it, but like there could be and I’m thinking about you know how these roots. They do the harvest in the fall, then the roots just kind of chill, you know. And then in the spring people do whatever they need to do their grafting or whatever thing for the process of regrowth. And I think that that’s kind of a metaphor in a way, for lwhat human beings should be doing, but often don’t do because our culture doesn’t really like to be like, “hey, it’s winter, so y’all can chill for a bit.” In fact, it’s kind of a cruel joke that in the Northern Hemisphere, at least, you know? New Year’s resolutions just happen in the middle of the darkest fuckin time, literally. Yeah, just like 10 days or whatever, after the equinox, the longest night of the year, you’re suddenly supposed to have all this energy to be like, “I’m a perfect person. Now look at me.” And I think that’s just strange phenomenon that we expect of ourselves. And it’s probably no wonder.
I wonder if you did like a cross study. With people in northern hemisphere versus southern hemisphere who’s better able to keep their resolutions? I wonder if there would be any impact? statisticians?
Christopher Mitchell 21:08
Let us know. Yeah, yeah, I was gonna say all the listeners who are statisticians, let us know, I’d want to like to say that I just checked in for anyone who does want to listen and it was IAA 29. That was the daylight savings time episode. Thank you. You’re welcome. And I was gonna chime in. But did you want to continue on? Did you have any further points? I wanted to be Canadian there. And just make sure I was apologizing before even entering that discussion.
Allison Green 21:32
You’re always sufficiently Canadian.
Christopher Mitchell 21:34
I appreciate that. So firstly, seasonal affective disorder, there is no more appropriate acronym on the planet. SAD, right? I mean, like, that’s just very appropriate. And I think that I’ve never had to personally face that as much as I’ve had to face that this year. I just found it difficult to. I tried to go out and walk each day, which I’ve talked about many times, and people are probably like, “we get it, Chris you enjoy walking.” But for me, it’s just a part of the routine. And I noticed when I go outside when there’s nice weather, I’m getting some energy that I’m not getting elsewhere. And I think there’s just something innately human and physiological about the idea of…there’s some sort of hope that I associate with spring weather.
And there’s something built into my being a human where I’m associating some aspect of winter with survival, and getting through it. And I think that was easier to stomach when I was doing things outdoors and seeing people. I didn’t really get to enjoy any of the good aspects of winter this year, because I was kind of tucked away indoors. And I just noticed my energy levels suffering. And I just found like, yeah, as I had mentioned earlier, I just was not at all accepting of that, in a way. Like I just tried to battle through that. And that didn’t go well, either.
And I think there’s a sense in which sometimes, if you, you wake up with it, and you just understand you don’t have full energy levels, like, maybe it’s okay to take a different approach today. And I do think I’ve tried that a little bit more. But my main issue around energy levels is that I’m just often not able to say like, “Okay, my energy is low.” And that means my energy is low.
It’s actually more like I think my energy is low, and so I think I have some aggressive disease, you know? I immediately go to like the nth degree, where it’s this notion of like, this symptom, which I think perhaps other people might be more able to say like, “Well, perhaps the fact that you’re tired is due to the fact that you work pretty intensely for a week, it’s the middle of winter, and you’re a human being the intersection of those three things.”
But instead, my brain will go to like, “well, or maybe it’s the first sign of insert, whatever.”And you know, what, like, I’ve gotten better with that stuff. Like, I just refuse to Google symptoms now. Because the third bullet point on whatever you’re googling is always like, make sure you go to the doctor right away for this because you’re probably dying. And like, it’s just, it’s never been helpful. This is why we have medical professionals, so that we don’t have to get carried away by Google doctor. And again, like, I think I’ve come a distance as far as health anxiety is concerned. But this is where it’s helpful to have Bri in my life because she’s a very logical woman. And so, you know, like, I kind of will be like, after I wake up and I wanted lots of energy and you know, like, “I just can’t believe how tired I am.” It’s she’s like, “well, I can based on the last week you had.” And I’m like, lying on the couch. telling my parents I love them, you know, like, it’s just…
Allison Green 24:41
That was always Tulio’srole with me. I would always constantly have him feel my forehead to see if I had a fever. And I run cold. I’m a good degree or two under the norm, just like as my resting body temperature. And so he’s always like “No, you’re colder than I am.” Oh, okay, I can relax now. Thank you human thermometer. You could just buy a thermometer, but you know, when you got someone’s hand, it’s like, you know, and it is just nice to just have someone else check in and just be like, “okay, now you’re not dying, you need to stop freaking out.” And that can be helpful to have because we can really go places. I’m like, if I seem slightly out of sorts this episode, it’s because I’m still kind of going places. My six is rising to a seven, as I’m like, “Oh, my God. Oh, my God, I feel a twinge.” You know, there’s their leaves falling in the forest. And this deer is darting around. Yeah, I’m like, as I talk, and I’m like, Oh, my gosh, I have like a slight slight tickle in the throat. Better write a Last Will and testament.
Christopher Mitchell 25:54
But this is why we did IAA… can’t remember the episode maybe like 18, or something like that, I should just have the list out. But anyways, I’m Anxious About Health, where we had our guest on who was fantastic, Rebecca. Having her there as that sort of barrier for her to be the star of the show allowed us to kind of go in the background, because I know health is something we both get anxious about. And, you know, it’s just something I’ve had to contend with. But it used to be that I was just gonna hit the panic button and be like, “oh, gosh, this is going on.”
Now I’ve realized that there’s actually a huge benefit in giving a couple of days to see how things pan out. Because, you know, oftentimes, “I’m feeling this way right now. And I’ve got to call a doctor up, I’ve got to do this, go do that, you know, I’ve got to deal with this right now. So I can move on with things.” But in actuality, 98% of the time, within three days, the symptoms that you were freaking out about have subsided in some way. So I have at the very least given myself that opportunity to just wait for a moment before I hit the panic button. And I would also say that I tie some of this to this realization that if I’m not careful, I’m pretty much always thinking to myself, “if only I was feeling more like this, or if only I was feeling more like that.”
And that could be that I wish I was feeling a little bit more upbeat, or I wish I was a little bit calmer. So I could go to sleep, or I wish I was insert whatever adjective you want there. But that’s also a dangerous game to play, because we’re never going to attain perfect human mode, right? Like, there’s literally always a moment I could say, “I wish I felt more like this. I wish I felt more like that.” And realistically, unless, of course, there’s like a, you know, a genuine medical concern, for the most part, for the symptoms related to anxiety, It’s mostly just about having a sort of like a kindness or like, I know, you mentioned the word grace a lot towards yourself in that process.
And just like understanding like, “Okay, well, this is a symptom, that’s very common with anxiety. And since I’m not perfect, I’m just going to accept that this is where I’m at, and do the best I can.” And something I’ve like tried to do as it relates to energy levels is like….
I’m never been particularly good at it, and I’ve talked about this before, as well. But like, I’m never particularly good at being like, “I’m going to treat myself to a movie or whatever.” But if I’m feeling really low energy, for example, you know, maybe that’s a great opportunity to say to myself, “hey, like, why don’t you lie down and watch that movie that you have like that you’ve been wanting to watch forever,” and then it becomes like this event.
And of course, you know, me, I have that movie on a to do list on my phone on like a shows and movies to watch list. So I get to check that off and get that feeling good. And then it becomes a sort of successful event. And conversely, like, if I have excess energy, like, why not use as an excuse to go for a bike ride that I haven’t done in forever, or like – tether wherever I’m at to some event that whether I’m high or low energy celebrates where I’m at. I think that is the strategy for me, as opposed to like, just sort of burying my hand head in my hands and being like, “wow, look, I’m so tired and like I feel a little achy and sore today.Probably the best approach is for me to kind of walk back and forth and hate myself and feel like a piece of shit. Like I think that will help you do that.”
Allison Green 29:15
Yeah, definitely the cure for any ailment.
Christopher Mitchell 29:18
That always helps. Right? Yeah, that’s that approach.
Allison Green 29:21
Yeah, doctor recommended. It’s like, you know, instead of Tylenol. Obviously, I definitely struggle with kind of accepting where I’m at. And I don’t know something kind of happened in the last year and a half where I developed periods of like really intense fatigue. So I can’t really call it chronic because it’s not actually chronic. It’s not every day, but It’s like “intermittent chronic fatigue,” which is an oxymoron.
But you know, just like days where it’s like the whole day I’m exhausted. I wake up exhausted. My legs feel super heavy. I feel like I’m like walking through mud all day long or I say that it feels like my legs are in a different timezone than my body – like half my body has jetlag, and half of my body is okay. And it cretes this really weird fog and, you know, sensation and whatnot. And I’ve seen some doctors and you know, a lot of the time, if it’s something kind of more in your head, or there’s not really like a particular physical indicator, it’s really hard for doctors to kind of know what to do.
And so I haven’t really had any successful answers, I’ve kind of just chalked it up to like my body being like, “hey, it’s rest time,” you know, and I just listen. But it was really hard. When that first started happening to me, about a year and a half ago, maybe about six months before the pandemic, it freaked me out so much to suddenly have, just like my energy level cut to such a small percentage of what it would be normally. And it was in a different way than when I’d have a period of more acute depression.
I was very aware that there was something physical that was different, like something in my brain that was causing fatigue, just some sort of different chemical misfire, or whatnot. It wasn’t the same depression fatigue, because it was localized in like a particular part of my body. And it also came with some mental fatigue. And it was really hard for me to, like, accept that. And I just wanted to just say, like, “I’m an invalid,” all day long. I don’t know if that word is like, not cool to use anymore. But that was just how I was like thinking about myself the whole time, was just like, “oh, like, I’m
Christopher Mitchell 31:40
Allison Green 31:41
I’ve lost, I’m useless.” I was just thinking about myself is in a very “victim mindset.” And it wasn’t a good place to be. And it really took me a while to understand just how to interact with myself, and how to generate some kindness towards myself when I was in those periods, because there really wasn’t anything I could do to like, cure it. And I tried all sorts of things.
I was like, maybe I’m not exercising enough until like, I tried to push myself on a hike. And I just hit a wall so fast. It was like, “Okay, I’m done. Now. I’m seriously done.” I still remember that hike that I tried to do while I was having that and just never feeling more done with anything in my life. And then that hike that I tried to do while I was having fatigue. I was just like, “absolutely not.” My dog was like racing up the stairs. happy as a clam, like ready to keep going. I was like, “I’m sorry, buddy, we’re going back in the car. We’re going down – down the hill or mountain, not downtown.” But yeah, it’s been hard to accept. I’m sorry. I have a beast at the door being like, “excuse me, why wasn’t I invited to the podcasting session?” And it’s my dad’s French Bulldog, and I’m like, “it’s because you snort constantly and people are gonna think I have pig in the background.” But he’s now currently throwing all 30 pounds of himself at my door. So excuse me, if that comes through on the recording or picks up some weird, snuffling sounds.
Christopher Mitchell 33:16
I would think it’d be pretty cool. Honestly, if you told me all of a sudden you’re like, “I’ve got to be honest. I have a pet pig.” I’d be like “that’s pretty exceptional. I’d be excited by it.”
Allison Green 33:25
Yeah, I love pigs. I wish I had a pet pig. I love goats, too, goats are like, right up there – top three favorite animals, I’d say. And yeah, my aunt actually raised those goats. And I’m gonna get to see her baby goats soon once I am able to go up there. So I’m excited about baby goats. Let’s stop talking about my farm…getting off track. So yeah, finally after a year and a half of dealing with this without really like any explanation, I think I finally reached a place of like, acceptance and understanding. But it involves quite a bit of letting go of the sort of fixed ideas that I had of this is how productive I should be. This is how successful I should be. This is when I should be successful. This is what success looks like. This is what being productive looks like I kind of had to be like, okay, those don’t serve you.
And they’re just tools that you’re using to make yourself feel bad about yourself, shaming myself for not doing what I used to be able to do when my energy levels weren’t so much a question when they were more stable. There’s no benefit to doing that. It just worsens everything. Rather than like now what I try to do is when I feel great, I try to really embrace it and lnot work too hard because then sometimes what I would do is, I’d get fatigued, I’d have a good day and then I’d work my ass off and sit at a desk for like 12 hours and try to work really hard to make up for all the days I didn’t work. And then the next day, I’d be exhausted again. So now I try to sort of ease.
Now I know that when I start to get that sort of second wind, like I’m kind of emerging out of that period of fatigue. It’s a fake out. My body is like testing the waters to be like, “Is it safe? Is it safe to come out? And how about if I like hit the ground running, trying to knock out 12 hours of work?” Body’s like, “it’s not safe, go back in the hole.” Now in the groundhog, apparently I was a deer and now I’m a groundhog. I’m just all the woodland critters today.
Christopher Mitchell 35:47
Lots of animals. Lots of animals furing this, which is good, for the most part. We try and regularly bring animals into our show, whether it makes sense or not. But that’s just the way it is. So one thing I did want to mention, just listening to you talk there is like when you mentioned, the notion of “Oh, I should have more energy, or I should feel like this. I should feel like that,” often times like, and maybe I can only speak for myself in this regard, but I do think what’s somewhat common is like, we’re comparing ourselves to like some perfect human that doesn’t exist, right? You get into this funk, right? Where you feel like today you are the ONLY low energy person on the planet and everybody else… like you look out the window, and someone’s skipping down the street with balloons and a lollipop and you’re like, “Wow, look at their life,” you know, but you just sort of make the assumption.
It’s like midwinter. You’re like, I still don’t understand this person out in shorts doing this. But anyways, you get this picture in your head of this… like, you know…I’m “less than” and everyone else is doing all right, when really, you know, the reality is like, everybody’s, you know, struggling through their own shit really. And quite frankly, there’s like a really significant portion of the world that suffering through something, which is probably a lot more intense than low energy.
So that sort of perspective can be helpful in sort of realizing like, on the one hand, I’m comparing myself to this perfect individual that doesn’t exist. And like, if that is your point of comparison, you’re always going to feel this sense of shame. And you’re not enough because you’re comparing yourself to some unreasonable standard that doesn’t exist. And then the other side of things, too, is like, I think trying to have that perspective that like, there’s all kinds of people who are suffering with things that are greater than that. But you know, at the same time, too, it’s so much easier said than done, sometimes it’s so easy to get stuck into that rabbit hole of like, this is how I feel and like it can really be like a bit of a narcissistic trap, right? Where you can’t even really focus on extracurricular activities.
You’re just like, “I’m going to sit here and like, bemoan where I’m at.” And you know, I’m not sure that’s terribly helpful, either. But I think we probably covered many of the bases that we were hoping to cover with this whole energy conversation. And I had to say that way, because why not? I’ll pass it back to if you’d like to chat about anything further, before we get into some sort of more the tip side of things.
Allison Green 38:16
Yeah. So this will be a bit of a tip and a bit of a ending point. But I do just sort of want to say that. Often we compare ourselves to like, just other people’s like finished products, and like whatever like benchmarks of success, people are putting out, right? And we don’t necessarily give ourselves credit for like, the energy that we’re investing into working through our own demons and our own Not, not closet demons. Don’t worry, Chris. I’m not going down that road again.
Yeah, but we don’t we almost don’t view the emotional work we do as like actual labor worth anything, you know? And so maybe you’re looking at someone who, you know, maybe they did like a million things in the last week, and you’re like, “what the hell? How did you get all that done”? But they didn’t maybe they didn’t think about themselves at all. Maybe they ran themselves ragged, and were exhausted. Maybe they haven’t even stopped and had a moment to think. And maybe they were anxious the whole week and couldn’t tell anyone.
Yeah, I guess what I’m just trying to say is that as we go through the ebbs and flows of our ability of our energy of our disorders and finding places to work and find meaning in sort of the ebbs and flows of those currents. We need to also be mindful that we don’t just compare product to product because that’s not necessarily an apples to apples comparison because someone might not be working on things that you’re working on. work that you do on yourself is really valuable. And it’s the time you can spend best because what doesn’t matter? Even if you have like Jeff Bezos level of money, if you still talk to yourself, like you’re a piece of shit, you know? I mean, like, even if you’re like that level of success, if you hate yourself, then like, what’s the point? So I just want to say that the internal work you’re doing, even if it takes you away from producing things, it’s a good use of your energy. That so, it’s kind of tangential. It’s kind of just like, I don’t know, I don’t know if it relates, but I thought it was important.
Christopher Mitchell 40:37
Yeah, yeah. No, it’s the idea of like, you’re comparing your progress to everyone else’s perfect, right? Yeah. And I think that makes total sense. And I also like the idea that this is a bit of a side tangent, but I listened to oh my gosh, it’s a Jason Segel. Who’s the guy who’s in like, all those, like Forgetting Sarah Marshall? Do you know that guy? Am I gonna lose you? I think is Jason Segel.
Allison Green 41:02
Jason Segel? I’m not really sure.
Christopher Mitchell 41:04
Okay, I’m probably failing right now my duty in life?
I think Yeah, it is. I should really trust myself before doubting myself. I was like, “I’m so wrong here.” Anyway. So anyways, he was on Dax Shepphard’s podcast, I believe it was. And he was talking about like the kind of some of the same things you’re talking about, like how the key was, he basically was like, thinking to himself through the whole time that he was getting towards being like a wealthy actor, whatever he was thinking to himself, like, I’ll put in the work, because on the other side of this, I’m just going to be tremendously happy, you know. And then he got to the other side of it, where he’d had all the things he wanted, and all the money and he was like, I was absolutely miserable.
And I just think that that ties into your point of being like – and maybe the point of this episode is like just accepting where you’re at, like, there isn’t a point where you cross the finish line, and you’re like, “and happiness is attained.” The way that we try to find happiness is probably through the everyday struggle, and through the fog that we have to experience each day. And so I just think it’s important to remember, I mean, like, whatever energy level you’re at, wherever you’re at, just trying to embrace that, I think, is probably the most helpful approach.
The reason I bring that up, like Jason Segal, of course that was a monetary thing where he thought he would get to this place and be like, “success,” but like, you know, for me, maybe I wake up with low energy or whatever. And my over the rainbow thing is like, if only I had the energy to get there, right? And then maybe you get the energy to get there.
But then I’m yearning for something else, I have the energy and I wish I had money. And then I get money. And I wish I had this and, and like if you’re not careful, you literally just substitute whatever you were yearning for that day for something else. And that’sI’m not speaking from a place of attainment here or enlightenment. It’s a daily battle for me to work through. And some days, it works great. And some days, it just doesn’t like, you know, yesterday, for example, it just…a drab day, I just had just worked on getting through it. And I had some bright spots in the day that felt overall pretty down. And that’s success. For me, that’s fine, right? Like, I’m not going to bemoan myself, or I’m not going to hate myself for having a dark day in the first place. So that’s kind of a large tangent, where if I had a whiteboard, I think a lot of words were written, a lot of things circled in the class might be confused, but I think it works. Overall. Are there any other sort of things in the tips and advice sort of segment that you want to talk about before we shift into some back patting – the classic way that we finish every single episode.
Allison Green 43:40
Yeah, I think I just want to reiterate the importance of working with yourself, not against yourself and allowing yourself those moments of rest. If your body’s like pretty much literally screaming for it. They’re important. So listen to your body, listen to your mind, they have important things to tell you. And they’re likely going to tell you that you need to rest when you don’t want to rest, but you should listen. Because it’s really important to everything you do in life – to how you show up for yourself or how you show up for your work and every single aspect. It all ties together.
So just kind of respect that natural ebb and flow – allow there to be periods of winter in your life and your day. And just kind of go through that rest remembering that you know, spring is coming and you’ll have energy to spare from spring and summer. Sorry, I don’t know why I became a farmer this episode.
Christopher Mitchell 44:42
“When it’s harvest time, I just know to listen to myself and really embrace”
Allison Green 44:47
Is that like you’re Irish potato farmer? I’m not sure what that was.
Christopher Mitchell 44:51
Yeah, I don’t know. I think it’s important, we probably move on quickly from that and apologize.
Allison Green 44:57
To all our beloved subscribers from Ireland, yes.
Christopher Mitchell 45:02
I have Irish heritage and lineage…you know, my family goes back to Ireland, which is probably why should I apologize for whatever that was.
Allison Green 45:14
Yeah, don’t even try to have me do Scottish. I’m deeply Scottish on my mom’s side, but like way back, and my Scottish accent would make a Scot strip me of my claims to any sort of heritage. They’d be like, No, no. Yeah, let’s leave accents.
Christopher Mitchell 47:16
So we always end our episodes by patting ourselves on the back, because that seems like a nice way to end episodes on anxiety. Is there something that you are patting yourself on the back for in the past, let’s say week, or since we last recorded, that you would like to share with our kind and wondrous audience?
Allison Green 47:39
Yes, I have just been making movement on just, you know, particular tasks that I need to do to kind of restart my life back in the States. You know, it’s like, when you come back from abroad, after many periods, as I’m sure you recall, from coming back from Turkey, it’s almost like you’re an alien dropped in your own land, and you’re just like, “Oh, you know, like, I might as well be dead. I have no phone plan. I have no, you know, no driver’s license, you know, you’re you’re just very cut off from society in many ways.”
And it can be kind of alienating to rejoin society, when you know that you’re not an outsider, you’re like an insider kind of coming home. So it feels doubly bizarre that there are all these strange barriers that you kind of have to re enter, getting myself on an insurance plan and getting a phone plan and all these things. And I was kind of letting it intimidate me and put me into a state of status, and an action. And I’ve been making progress on it. I asked my dad for some help. And just like getting around, physically, you know, because public transportation in California is just not a thing, really. At least the places I need to go and where I live and whatnot. And my dad’s been super kick ass at helping me kind of re get things started.
Christopher Mitchell 49:11
As long as we don’t go back to farm metaphors. I think we’re good.
Allison Green 49:17
Yeah, we’re done with those. I just want to give a little shout out to him. Even though I’m pretty sure he doesn’t listen anymore. I think he listened to like one or two, and was like, “Okay, good job. Cool.” He’s been really helpful at helping me get a couple things back going again. And I’ve been asking for that help and receptive to that help and acting on the help. So like, it’s like a two way thing. And so I’m just proud of myself for doing things like making my appointment at the DMV, and getting my phone and whatnot. Just these little things that would have probably tripped me up and taken me a lot longer to do otherwise. So yeah, that’s it. What about you, Chris, what are you patting yourself on the back for this week?
Christopher Mitchell 50:03
My answer is really simple, actually. And that’s just that yesterday was a day that I came out of nowhere – just like kind of blindsided me, but it just wasn’t the day I thought it was gonna be it was. I think I just was probably overwhelmed in my body, let me know that and I got through it. And I think I ended the day at peace with myself after kind of like a bit of a turbulent day, which is going to happen sometimes. And I accepted that that’s just the way kind of things go, especially during this time. And I’m just patting myself on the back for giving today a chance.
I think the difficulty with anxiety sometimes is tha..it’s difficult the day after you kind of have maybe a tougher day…that you would want to not wake up and see that day as a continuation, or the day as like a you’re going to do everything to combat the day that was before. But I think there is a certain power and just being like “I just took today for what it was going to be.”
And I think it was, you know, much better than yesterday was and I can appreciate that I’m patting myself on the back for giving today a legitimate chance. And I think that’s enough. That’s all I can really ask myself, especially during this time, which is just you know – it’s I’m not alone in this being like a difficult time, you know, we’re at the tail end of a long period of time. And one would hope moving into a bit of a different period with still some time to go. But I have not found it the easiest, but I’ve done my best.
The day after day has been difficult to actually give the day a legitimate chance. So that’s what I’m patting myself on the back for. All right. So since you’re in California, and I’m in Toronto, sometimes tech difficulties happen and just having to the very end, but we are resuming. And I think I got all that I wanted to say out about I think I’m done with the padding of my own back, my back feels pretty well padded. So I’m pretty good. And yeah, really I just hope that this episode, in some way was helpful for at the very least helping other people realize that you know, there probably isn’t a normal when it comes to energy levels. You just kind of wake up each day and take yourself where you are for the most part.
Allison Green 52:21
Yeah, exactly. The only benchmark you should measure yourself against is yourself but in a way of understanding and not self flagellation. We are firmly against self flagellation, even if you do apparently like that word and use it in almost every episode, at least me.
Christopher Mitchell 52:40
Do you think there’s any podcast online that uses that word more than we do? Probably not. Right?
Allison Green 52:46
No, absolutely not. I think we’re number one, in that regard. In that regard, only probably don’t think we’re number one on the apple chart. But anyway, thank you so much for listening. And we hope that you are having a great week. And we will see you next week with a new topic that of course, we’ll still be anxious about indeed. Thank you, everyone.
Christopher Mitchell 53:12
Take care everyone. Bye