Feeling Tired & Anxious? Me too.
This article is a reflection on how my low energy and mood over the last month has resulted in a mental struggle and frustration. I try to understand it, explain it and come up with solutions to get out of the slump.
I’ve been feeling really low lately. Low energy physically and mentally. It’s been frustrating and hard because I don’t want to feel low, I don’t like feeling lacklustre, fed up, sad or lost. I want to feel empowered, self-assured and happy.
The truth is that I get super bored of feeling low and even though I believe you can do the mindset work to visualise things that make you feel happier, lighter or more empowered, I also know that it’s hard to do when you’re feeling exhausted and unmotivated.
At first I noticed that I was feeling frustrated and a little anxious about feeling low and the more I delved into it I saw that some of the frustration and anxiety was coming from a an internal monologue that was essentially telling me it’s a bad thing to feel this way.
So in essence I was telling myself that I wasn’t good enough because I was feeling low. Which is a very judgemental and unaccepting view of myself and the way I was feeling, which obviously doesn’t help anything because it just adds an extra layer of crap to work through.
So I decided to show myself love, compassion and acceptance even though I was feeling low…but then I just started getting bored and losing patience with feeling this way.
I found myself asking, what’s the perfect mixture of love, acceptance and patience but also motivation to help move you forwards and get you out of a funk?
For me it’s tricky because there’s so much I want to do with my work and as any self-employed person will know, no-one else is gonna do it for you. If I don’t do the work it’s not like there’s someone else to cover my shift, it just doesn’t get done, which means I need to motivate myself.
It’s not that I feel like I HAVE to move at a certain pace, or hit certain goals like right now! It’s that I actually want to, so when I feel low I get frustrated because I want to keep going, I just don’t have the energy to motivate me and the frustration makes it hard to apply the love, acceptance and patience that I know I need.
I don’t expect or particularly want to feel ecstatically happy and energised all the time. I do think that you can feel a happiness in an inner peace type of way even when you’re feeling low and that comes from being accepting of yourself and not judging yourself for feeling a certain way. I do believe that to be true. But, for me at least, there comes a point where I just start to feel stagnant and that’s where I’ve been all this week.
I can get too much in my own head sometimes, I think most of us can to be honest, especially when we’re feeling low. I think it’s a mixture of pressure to meet certain expectations of how we believe we should feel or what we believe we should be doing. That pressure leads very easily into self-judgment and criticism which just enhances the initial feelings of fatigue or sadness.
It is ok to feel sad, there’s absolutely no shame in experiencing that emotion. But what about when you’re kinda done with feeling it? What about when you want to get your mojo back and move out of the slump?
I have suspected for some time that I really need a break and I’ve been dreaming of a holiday to rest and recharge. I thought that maybe this was the source of my feeling low and that it had manifested itself into a sadness and anxiety, not just a feeling of tiredness. But honestly, I didn’t really know what was causing my slump. Was I feeling low because I was tired or was I tired because I was feeling low? Like a chicken and the egg situation.
But then on Saturday I had one of the greatest afternoon naps of my life! Seriously, it was so good that there should be a book written about it which later gets made into a movie staring Meryl Streep.
I felt the happiest I’d felt for weeks after I woke up from that nap and I realised a few things…
1) When you’re body is tired your mind becomes tired and that can affect your mental and emotional wellbeing.
2) Humans are not always the most logical of creatures because rather than take time to rest when feeling mental burnout, we often just spend that time judging and berating ourselves for not having the energy or the stamina we think we need to have in order to be a successful, strong or a good enough person. This just exhausts us more by adding stress, anxiety and guilt into the mix.
3) It’s really hard to gain clarity on your thoughts and feelings when you’re exhausted because your brain is all fuzzy.
4) When I’m in this state of fatigue and anxiety, fear sees it’s opportunity to creep in and my internal monologue becomes very unhelpful.
It seems so obvious that what needs to be done is for me to rest and recharge (which is what I’ll be doing next week on my holiday to Berlin YAY!) but honestly, as mentioned above in point 2, logic doesn’t always win over fear, anxiety, expectations and frustration.
There does need to be a balance between striving to be the best version of yourself and feeling like you have to live up to certain expectations in order to be good enough or successful enough.
The definition between these two points can easily become blurred because those expectations of success are so engrained in us and our society that it can be difficult to know if it’s something we truly want for ourselves or if it’s something we’ve been taught we should want.
You could say that what we truly want, what’s authentic to us will illicit a feeling of joy and excitement and will energise us with ambition and a sense of alignment to who we truly are. Whereas the expectations we’ve learned we should live up to will feel heavy and misaligned.
But, when you’re energy is low near enough everything feels heavy. The truth is, even that which we really do want and feel super connected to can and will feel hard and like a slog sometimes.
There can be flow and ease, but I can also feel flow and ease when I’m doing the washing up. It doesn’t mean that it’s my destiny to dedicate my life to doing it. The point is, it can all feel great sometimes and it can all feel hard sometimes.
The best way to tell the difference is to take care of your energy in any way you can, so that you avoid falling into points 1 - 4 listed above.
Whether you set aside regular breaks throughout your day where you’re only job is to not think about or do anything relating to anything other than something you really want to do, rest, fun, yoga, whatever. Even just a few ten minute sessions throughout your day dedicated to recharging.
I also find that when I’m this state of fatigue and anxiety it helps to remind myself not to take things too seriously. To remember that I’m safe and ok in this moment and whatever comes in the future, I’ll handle it. Also, I remind myself to just have fun. Fun by the way doesn’t have to be some big thing, it can be a nap or chatting to a friend or watching something that makes me laugh on tv.
Lastly and probably most important and effective is to commit acts of kindness. There has been research done into the positive effects that random acts of kindness have on our overall happiness and energy levels. It takes you out of yourself and makes you feel connected to other people, animals or the environment.
Ultimately, I just need to remind myself to get out of my head, take a step back and see a different perspective. What about you, what are your go to ways for dealing with feeling low? Tell me in the comments :)