The more we understand about mental health and the mind, the more new labels we are developing to help us begin to navigate the world. One of the more popular of these terms is ’empath.’ Together, we will explore what an empath is, look at the specific kinds of empaths most likely to be physically affected by the emotions of others, and explore 9 strategies for keeping yourself mentally safe and well.
What Is An Empath?
You may have heard the term and perhaps wanted to explore it, but struggled to find a precise definition to give you greater understanding.
Well, Dr. Judith Orloff has written more than one book on empaths and their struggles. She defines an empath in the following way:
Someone who can “feel and absorb other people’s emotions and/or physical symptoms because of their high sensitivities.” These people often “filter the world through their intuition and have a difficult time intellectualizing their feelings.”
Empaths can also be known as “super-responders,” because of the high intensity with which they can take on the feelings of others. (1)
Shielding Yourself From The Stress of Others and Their Negative Emotions
If you think you might be an empath, it is important to take steps to prioritize your emotional and physical well-being. Being an empath can actually be divided into specific categories; one of these is the “physical empath”. A physical empath will notice their body responds to other people’s emotions in a variety of ways. (2) For example, you may be in close connection with someone who is suffering loss and heartache, and after you spend time with them you may actually feel “heartache” yourself in the form of chest discomfort, unease, etc.
Nine Ways For An Empath To Protect Themselves
As empaths absorb the thoughts and feelings of others it can therefore be challenging to understand what is happening inside of you as what you may be experiencing may not even be your own thoughts and feelings.
When you notice a strong, unpleasant emotion, take a moment to name it, being specific as possible. For example, try ‘loney’ or ‘frustrated’ instead of ‘sad’ or ‘mad.’ When you have a good idea of what you’re feeling, it can become easier to trace it back to its origin. Has anything happened to me specifically today that might make me feel anxiety about the future, or am I picking up on someone else’s emotions?’ (3)
2. Practice Visualization
Some people like to use a shield of light; others prefer to think of a glass wall; you may find something else that works for you. But mentally imagining a tangible barrier between you and the energies and emotions of others is a recommended technique for protecting yourself from being overwhelmed. (2, 3)
3. Keep Your Circle Small
If you’re an empath, think of yourself as an emotional highway. When traffic is slow, things run much more smoothly. But, when there are too many people on the road at once, “rush hour” is the result: deadlocked traffic. Just like a road densely packed with cars, the more people there are around an empath, the more emotions they will be exposed to. If this sounds like you, although it is not always possible, it can be helpful to spend your social time in smaller gatherings, so you aren’t picking up on so much energy. (1)
On this same note, it is more important than ever to keep your circle filled with people who are bringing you more joy and happiness while limiting the amount of people close to you who repeatedly take more from you than they give.
4. Go Out In Nature
According to Dr. Orloff, empaths often recharge in nature. If you can build time in your week for a hike, a stroll in the park, or even time in your garden, it can allow you to replenish your emotional reserves, so you are better able to cope with the energy you pick up on in your day-to-day life. (1)
5. Rely On Water
A bath or shower is very good at helping the body release the stress and negativity you may have picked up from other people throughout your day. Dr. Orloff recommends that you fully “immerse yourself,” but the simple act of cleaning your body will allow for those toxins to be washed away. (2)
6. Find Your Hot Spots
According to Dr. Orloff, every Empath “has a body part that is more vulnerable to absorbing others’ stress.” Often you can find this place by examining your patterns of illness. If you are prone to repeated headaches, for example, then your head would be the most likely culprit. When you notice these flare-ups of pain, “place your palm there and keep sending loving-kindness to that area to soothe discomfort. For long standing depression or pain, use this method daily to strengthen yourself.” (2)
7. Let It Go
Keir Brady, a therapist with experience working with empaths, says that often you will not realize you’ve picked up on someone else’s emotions until you are already feeling them. When that happens, there’s an easy way to release them. Simply “picture leaves floating down a stream. Picture yourself writing down the feeling you have absorbed onto a leaf. As the leaf flows down the stream and out of sight, the feeling goes with it and you are left with the calmness of the flowing water.” (3)
8. Set Firm Boundaries
It’s understandable that you want to help those around you, especially if they’re suffering. However, there is no benefit to you or those around you for you to take on their disturbing feelings and emotions.
In fact, you can better help those in need by maintaining your space as clean and as clear as possible and that often that means, as an empath, that you need to maintain some space and energy for yourself. If you are starting to feel overwhelmed, it is more than okay to change the subject or walk away. In the long term, you may have to cut back on the time you spend with certain people. (1, 2, 3)
9. Meditate Quickly
When you are out and about, it may seem impossible to meditate. However, there are many different ways to do this. You can practice the visualizations mentioned above. Work to control and calm your breathing. Consider even sneaking away to the restroom and taking a few minutes for silent meditation there. (3)
I Still Need More
There are times when you have tried your best, but even with all the tools at your disposal, you are still not able to prevent the stress of others from starting to overwhelm you. That is why there is Be Serene Instant Relief cream. Just one or two pumps of this all-natural formula, on your temples or wrists, will instantaneously begin to calm and relax you. For more information, visit https://www.be-serene.com/instant-relief/.