13 steps to look after yourself if you are sensitive or an empath

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Are you sensitive or an empath?

If you’ve come to the conclusion that you are sensitive https://jonathanvitalliving.com/12-signs-you-are-a-sensitive-person/ or an empath https://jonathanvitalliving.com/12-signs-you-are-an-empath/ you may be feeling some relief that you can finally put a ‘label’ on how you’ve been experiencing life. Personally, I’m not one for labelling and carrying that around with me, I don’t believe we should ever pigeon hole ourselves, human beings are very complex individuals; however, finding a name for something that we haven’t been able to properly identify and then know that other people are experiencing the same thing, allows us to have a foundation from which to gain understanding and ultimately healing. We’re no longer ‘alone’ in this and neither are we crazy – and there are solutions to help with how we’re feeling.

In this article all the points will be relevant whether you are highly sensitive or an empath; indeed there are many similarities between both emotional conditions and you may be a little uncertain which you are. The main difference is that an empath will literally absorb someone else’s emotions as their own, and even – mostly unconsciously – will seek out other people’s emotional experiences and dramas to absorb them, for example, always making themselves available to help or get involved with someone’s crisis. Both a highly sensitive person and an empath will tend to mirror language and body language, giving their own energy towards making that person feel comfortable.

The key in order to protect yourself from being buffeted from pillar to post in an ever increasing world of drama and emotional overspill, is finding balance and re-centring yourself. Some of these points will help everyone, some of them you will need to adapt to yourself and find what works best for you because at the end of the day we are all individuals and not one size fits all.

13 steps to look after yourself

  1. Allow time to decompress: Because you’ve been absorbing the energies from the people and the environment around you, your emotions and mental processes can quickly become overwhelmed leaving you tired and drained. In order to counteract this, take calming mini-breaks during the day. Stretch, walk, get outside from some fresh air. Take time out to be alone. If you can’t get outside go sit in the toilet for five minutes to be by yourself. Over the course of your week schedule in longer breaks, weekly walks alone in nature, longer meditation sessions, time to read, time to play and be creative – with no pressure to achieve or create anything.
  2. Set a time limit: Work out what your time limit is in a social/group gathering before you start to feel drained. If it’s two hours, ensure you are able to leave and not dependent on anyone else to leave when you need to. It is incredibly easy to become quickly exhausted when surrounded with lots of people and their differing energies. At parties, group gatherings etc be on the sides rather than right in the middle. In restaurants and at the theatre try to be seated towards the side and not in the throng so you don’t absorb energy from every direction.
  3. Avoid crowded places: Avoid places such as shopping centres/pubs/clubs/busy restaurants as much as possible. If unavoidable, limit your time. I personally also find museums and art galleries where there is a lot of emotional and energetic content – not just from people but from the objects and art – very draining. After touring the Louvre in Paris once for over two hours, I felt drained and light headed, almost like I was going to faint. I tend to avoid museums and galleries now and if I do go I limit myself to an hour maximum.
  4. Learn to say no: It’s really difficult to do at first, but absolutely necessary to say no sometimes. You needn’t explain why you are saying no, there is need to be confrontational, just simply say ‘no’. Learn to define your boundaries – is it something you want to do? Then do it. Is it something that will leave you feeling drained after a while? Set a time limit. Is it something you really would rather not do? Don’t do it. If you feel tired and it’s not energising – put it off. Learn to go within in and ask yourself if its something you need to do and if it isn’t, say no.
  5. Learn what your emotional de-stressers are: Do you turn to alcohol? Comfort food? Sugar? Do you have caffeine if tired and low energy? How about pain medication? Illicit drugs? What are you using to dampen down your emotional responses? What are your coping mechanisms – are they healthy for you in the long run or are they potentially damaging and addictive. Start to replace them with healthier means of support. Learn your boundaries and monitor those, which will negate a lot of the need for these emotional crutches; replace sweet foods, chocolate, and fatty foods with pieces of fruit and a handful of nuts, drink green tea rather than coffee, instead of reaching straight for something numbing like alcohol or drugs, sit down quietly for five minutes with the eyes closed and meditate first. You may still want to reach for that drink or relaxant afterwards but over time the desire will start to recede and you will find yourself being able to mange much more effectively.
  6. Breathe: Breath is a wonderful way to connect back within and be more present in mind and body. Slow deep breathing will make you feel more present, more connected to your ‘real-self’ rather than to the emotions and energies of someone else. It is something you can do in the moment and will not bring any undue attention. It will also help you to emotionally and mentally detach allowing you to be in touch with your feelings.
  7. Eat regularly: it’s important to remain grounded in the body and to regulate blood sugar. Ensure you fill up on healthy nutritious food  – never skip mealtimes. Fasting is not a good idea if you are very sensitive. Drink plenty of water and always remain hydrated.
  8. Avoid: If there are films, TV shows and literature which affect your emotions negatively – avoid them. Also try and limit your news consumption – if you can’t avoid the news altogether and feel you need to keep updated, limit your exposure to just once a day. Avoid all drama! You do not need to be aware of all the suffering happening in the world – it is not your responsibility. You are already acutely aware of others’ pain – do not go looking for more.
  9. Be creative: move your body, dance, practice yoga. Sing (you don’t have to be as good as Celine Dion) it’s just for you and a wonderful emotional release. Listen to uplifting music, watch something funny, read a favourite book. Paint, draw – do anything you like – it will help you shake off the bondage of energy which doesn’t belong to you.
  10. Nature: Being outside in nature is wonderfully nurturing and soothing for you. Be around animals and nature as much as you can. If you don’t or can’t have a pet, spend time with a friend’s pet – if that’s not possible look into animal sitting services. You could always help out at an animal sanctuary, or even just get out into the park amongst the birds and squirrels. If you don’t have a garden, make sure you have greenery at home in the form of real living plants and flowers.
  11. Protect yourself: Energetically protecting myself is something I do every day before I leave my home. It is also something I will do several times during the day especially if I’m travelling around or mixing with large groups of people. It is very effective against absorbing energy from other people and your surroundings, and is also very effective in maintaining your own energy balance thus preventing you from feeling drained and tired. There are many ways in which to do this, you could imagine that you are wearing a cloak that covers you entirely and that you ‘zip’ yourself into – I like to imagine myself wearing a deep blue cloak (blue is my favourite colour and I find it very soothing and healing). I also like to imagine myself surrounded in a bubble of golden light. If I’m in a situation where I feel that one person in particular is draining my energy and I can’t physically remove myself, I will imagine a ‘barrier’ between myself and that person; if I feel they are purposefully sending me negative energy, I will imagine a mirror between myself and them reflecting back their bad vibes. I always feel instantaneous relief when I do that and if the person has been looking at me, I’ll notice that they then turn away and can’t meet my gaze.
  12. Crystals: Have and carry crystals with you – they are amazingly grounding and connect you back to the earth of which they are from. Just touching them can make you feel present and re-centred. Having a ‘touchstone’ (a small crystal or smooth stone) that you carry around with you in your pocket or in a little pouch is a wonderful way of bringing yourself back into your body if you are not feeling very present.
  13. Conflict: Rather than trying to avoid conflict all together, learn some tools to deal with conflict – do avoid it where possible (without repressing yourself and taking on unacceptable behaviour from someone else) and find some strategies so it is not overwhelming – there are plenty of courses and books available on how to manage conflict.

It’s important to look after yourself physically and emotionally. Learn your personal triggers and do what is necessary to mitigate any unwanted effects. What do you personally need to recharge your batteries – figure that out and continue to practice it.

I hope this article has given you some ideas that you can begin to incorporate right now to help you find the balance and emotional stability in your life that you deserve.

Much love –

Jonathan