Are You An Empath?
“Empaths have hyper-perceptive nervous and energetic systems that allow them to feel the energies and emotions of others as if they were their own”
Empaths are highly sensitive and some are also very intuitive. Their nervous system is finely tuned and sensitive. For this reason, they tend to pick up subtle traces of energy which other people can’t.
When empaths learn how to manage their abilities, they can live a very humanly rich life. However, when not trained or supported, they may be prone to anxiety, stress, depression, and burnout.
I’m a highly intuitive empath and it has taken me a long while to accept my nature. I used to wish I had an on/off button because I used to feel so overwhelmed and alienated.
I did not understand or know how to regulate and manage my energy. I was afraid to even talk about energy itself. I was afraid other people, including my colleagues, would find me bonkers.
Over the last few years, I have done progress in accepting who I am. I accept others may find me bonkers and I tell myself it is none of my business what other people think. Tough exercise but it gets easier.
Most people do not know some of what they see in fictional movies is actually very real. Telepathy, remote viewing and visions are somewhat common among intuitive empaths.
This post is not about the abilities of intuitive empaths though. I will leave that chapter for another time. Here we are focusing on how empaths can deal with overload and overstimulation.
Why is Self Care Important for Empaths
Empaths capture and process information beyond the five senses. As a result, they can find themselves overstimulated. If not careful, that can lead to many struggles with their well-being and overall health.
Let’s try to give you a better idea of what living as an empath is like. Imagine the following scenario. You go to the beach and you forget to put on sunblock. You spend hours under the sun and you get a burn.
Or imagine you are baking something in the oven and you forget to use a towel to remove the tray. You get a burn and the skin becomes raw and sore. For a couple of days, it will be oversensitized.
Anything that touches that area will create a great deal of pain and an intense reaction. That is how an empath operates when overstimulated and out of balance.
Daily living can be very difficult for an empath. More so if they grew up unaware and with little to no support for their empath nature. Many bring difficult and traumatic experiences from childhood.
As if this wasn’t enough, empaths can pick up energy at a distance. It’s like when wild animals sense a natural catastrophe is brewing. They start migrating before it happens and no one even guesses it.
Lack of preparedness and the social stigma of being different can cause a huge strain on empaths. Many empaths try to reduce their strain by turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Some of these include:
- risky behaviours
- suicide attempt
It is essential for empaths to be equipped with good strategies. Otherwise, empaths can spend most of their time drained, unwell, and stuck in self-abandoning behaviours.
How to Maintain Self Care
Self-care is one of the best strategies empaths can invest in. It has also surely become a very popular topic. For that reason, I’d like to make a few points about it before I share some of my own self-care habits.
Self-care needs to be systematized into your daily routine. There is nothing wrong with taking time for pampering and yoga when you remember it. However, self-care can’t be a one-time or once-a-month kind of commitment.
Your daily routine needs to breathe self-care. To make it happen you need to find out what activities are a good fit for you. Then you need to know how they will integrate your already existing routine.
The environment also plays an important role. You need to be creative and find ways to tweak it. That alone has a strong impact on how much your new well-being design will be successful.
I know this can sound overwhelming. Thinking of self-care as applying a face mask once every blue moon seems easier. We both know, however, that’s only a bandaid.
That’s why working with a professional or seeking a mentor can be a good investment in yourself. A professional or mentor who knows empaths will help you create a sustainable and efficient plan.
Activities For Self Care
Now let’s have a look into my three favourite self-care activities. I will also share how I turned them into self-care habits.
Short Walks Throughout the Day
At the moment, my health does not allow me to walk long distances for great periods of time. Understanding this was my reality required me a great deal of acceptance.
I know walking is good and necessary to stay physically healthy. Not being able to walk as I once did first made me angry and restless. Then I realised I had to change my perception of self-care.
Walking is good for health and well-being. However, we also need to make it work for us, not against us. Self-care habits are only as good as they fit our needs and reality.
Today, I walk 15 to 20 minutes, two or three times a day. I use these moments as short breaks from work. They allow me to add movement to my day without triggering my autoimmune system.
Adjusting this self-care practice to my needs and present health condition has allowed me to maintain and benefit from it. I get my daily dose of steps and my creative flow regenerates itself.
Tuning In, Especially When It Gets Yucky
There are times when my boundaries are not so clear, or self-care is lacking. That’s when I as an empath start having problems. It’s a shortcut for overstimulation and confusion.
It is important to cultivate the awareness and the intention to tune in. More so before any action driven by strong emotions. We tend to react immediately but, if we are not grounded and conscious, impulsiveness can hurt.
We are not always fully in control of ourselves. This is reason enough to go within before saying or doing anything. It is your responsibility to do so.
I used to be a very impulsive person by design and I can tell this takes practice, patience, and trial and error. However, it can prevent a great deal of unnecessary drama and even pain.
Nonviolent communication has given me perspective and tools to work on this. Learning and incorporating it has been an act of self-care. It helps and protects my emotional and mental health.
Time to Create and Play
Last but not least, creativity and playfulness are self-care essentials for many empaths. Both allow us to connect with our inner child and tap into a stream of consciousness that is flowy in nature.
For me, immersing myself in creative projects is a way to disconnect from the energies that are around me. It allows me to stay centred in my own energy field.
Creativity in particular also offers a channel for self-expression and processing. More often than not, I get a lot of clarity after a freestyle drawing or expressive writing session.
Play also helps us balance our nervous system. It moves us into renewal mode more easily. Contrary to what we have been led to believe, we all need to play. Some ideas to add play to your day:
- find humour in what happens to you
- play board games with your friends or family
- take yourself on a walk with no destination in mind
Self-care is important for everyone. However, empaths need to pay extra attention to it. Since they are more sensitive than average, they are also more affected by stress factors.
Self-care habits help to buffer stress and restore our sensitive nervous system. They need to be in place on a daily basis and not taken as a one-time commitment.
There are many forms and ways to practice self-care. Going for a walk, taking time to go within and engaging in creativity or play are just a few examples. There are many more.
Getting to know yourself is halfway to knowing what works best for you. You can also work with a professional or a mentor to find helpful tools and design the best self-care plan for you.
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19 thoughts on “Empath: This Is Why Self-Care Is So Powerfully Important”
Self care is particularly important for empaths.
I have to make time for peace and quiet each day or I get frazzled!
Great topic! I think it’s one of these things we need to talk more about and also educate parents/teachers on how to recognize empaths because this is a hard thing to see in yourself. I have a slight tendency to empathy and I was over 30 I realized other emotions trigger me which also changes my behavior.
I was helped by my better half who once asked why I was completely different around some people. I had heard it before, but always through some joke so I didn’t take it seriously. He talked about it differently and got me thinking and researching what could cause this. Thank you for some new tips how to manage it!
This is a great read. Sometimes we focus so much on others and caring for them, that we do not take care of ourselves. Thanks for sharing!
Love this post! We often underestimate the power of going for walks out in the fresh air! Self care is so so important!
This was really useful; I think finding some self-care that works (especially for empaths) is so important. I like to have a variety of things to try out and it’s good to be open to introducing new ways to look after our well-being. Thanks!
Your writing introduced me to the term empath. And although I don’t think I’m quite at your level of experiencing it, I can relate to many of the example you give.
Becoming over-stimulated is too easy nowadays and I think your tips are a great way to prevent or pause that. Going for a walk is an excellent idea. But tuninig in as well. But I think that starting to express myself more creativily has helped me a lot. The writing allows me to give my thoughts more structure. Lovely post as always and it has given me some food for thought.
I’m not sure I fit into the empath category but sometimes I find myself wanting to stop feeling things I don’t want to feel. I get excited when a loved one shares a good thing and I get sad when they’re not okay. I overthink stuff and give myself anxiety. I’m about to undergo therapy because I feel like I need some normalcy.
We completely agree with you. Self-care is essential for empaths.
Going for Short Walks Throughout the Day is so effective yet under looked as an intervention, even when I was working on the wards I would ask my patients to take them for short walks and encourage them even if unmotivated, it still works for me. Thanks for sharing
It’s amazing how peaceful and restorative a walk can be for me. That (or nature) and play are the most important for refilling my cup.
Thank you for sharing this post!
I love this post. I completely agree that taking short walks (or long walks) can work wonders! Self care is so so important. Thank you for sharing this!
How do you know your really an empath? Is it picking up and being affected by other moods, watching someone at a distance and becoming sad, finding peace in nature and feeling overwhelmed by others?
This is a great post and made think about my life a bit. I’m not sure if I’m an empath or not but sometimes I feel too sensitive to others or ruled by others emotions.
I love walking. It’s one think I can count on to help me release stress and clear my mind. Also sitting in silence in nature is grounding and refreshing and the one time my mind settles down.
Great post. Thanks for sharing.
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Thank you for asking, that’s a very good question. Yes, those are characteristic of an empath’s experience. The empath’s experience is more intense and wider than of highly sensitives because empaths can absorb (emotionally, physically and spiritually) what is running within others and in the environment – even at long distance. If one accepts and becomes aware of their high sensitivity they can tap into subtler experiences (e.g. clairsentience) and develop more characteristics of an empath. Nature does wonders for both highly sensitives and empaths as it restores balance in the nervous system, through which we receive and process all sorts of degrees of information. Making sure there are more experiences of renewal than draining ones is key for HSPs/empaths. Hope this helps ❤️
Beautifully put together. Creativity is key for me, as well as meditation to music and journalling. I used to suffer terribly from the stigma, and felt that it was always me who had the problem and that I should be tougher, more mature, etc etc…which played a huge role in me losing myself and falling into a very dangerous and life-changing depression. It is people like you and your very important work that has helped me to rebuild. Thank you.