If you’re an empath like me, you know that the struggle against overwhelm is real. Empath overwhelm leads many a sensitive soul to feel chronically burnt out to the point where we just want to turn off all the lights and curl up into a ball.
Some of us have gotten very good at becoming like turtles, withdrawing into our shell to protect ourselves from the emotions of others. That’s the thing about empaths; we feel the energies and emotions of other people and environments deeply.
Others look at weather reports before they go outside. Empaths try to get a sense of the emotional climate. We wonder if we need to bring an extra protective layer to prevent overwhelm.
It’s only natural that unexpected emotional tsunamis would take us out. Sometimes, even small shifts in our emotional environment can lead to overwhelm.
Here are some of the signs of empath overwhelm
This one is obvious, but it’s all too easy to be in denial about burnout. Maybe you think you’re just tired. Or you tell yourself you’re being too “weak” or “sensitive”, as others have often told you, and you try to muscle through.
When you’re struggling with burnout you may feel lethargic, unable to focus, and irritable. Similar to a hangover, empath burnout may lead you to be sensitive to stimulation from bright lights, strong smells, and loud noises.
The first step to dealing with empath burnout is to stop getting down on yourself and feeling guilty. Acknowledge that your feelings of burnout are real and it’s ok to give yourself what you need to recover.
We all know that self-medicating with alcohol, drugs, and unhealthy food isn’t a real solution. But for sensitive empaths it can be a tempting way to cope with chronic overwhelm.
My favourite genre of books is memoir. I love reading people’s personal stories of trial and triumph. I’ve read several addictions memoirs and I’ve noticed that most of the writers were empaths.
It’s not the supposed strong ones that succumb to addiction, but the sensitive souls with a kind open heart. That’s why it’s so important for empaths to learn healthy ways to cope with empath overwhelm.
Does your mood and stress level tend to manifest on your skin? Our skin has many ways of getting our attention: pimples, eczema, rashes, hives.
If your skin is acting up, and you can’t find a logical external cause, such as allergies, food or environmental sensitivities, chances are that overwhelm is playing a role.
Luckily, there are ways to cope with empath overwhelm, so that you can restore mental peace and feel at your best.
6 ways to cope with empath overwhelm
Autoregulation exercises are techniques designed to reduce stress and calm the body and mind. They include deep breathing, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation.
Rather than only turning to these exercises when you’re stressed, make them a regular practice so that you can prevent overwhelm.
Short bursts of intense exercise
By now we all know that physical exercise is a proven way to reduce stress and feel mentally strong. But you don’t have to do a full workout to beat overwhelm.
Short bursts of intense exercise can instantly lift your mood and relax your mind. Possible exercises include a 100-metre sprint, 20 burpies, or one minute of jump rope.
It’s not just other people’s emotions that can be overwhelming for empaths. Our own emotions can really take us out.
That’s why it’s so important for empaths to avoid repressing our emotions. Instead, have some go-to emotional release practices, such as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), energy healing, journalling, or talking to a therapist.
Avoid caffeine and other stimulants
Empaths tend to be more sensitive to stimulants like caffeine, refined sugar, and drugs. You might be tempted to turn to caffeine or alcohol to take the edge off feelings of overwhelm, but this will only make things worse.
You’ll like feel more burnt out and irritable the next day. It’s far better to rely on healthy alternatives to lift your mood, such as raw fruits, vegetables and exercise.
Make it a lifestyle
I know how easy it is to get worn down by the emotional ups and downs of being an empath. You start to take a passive role, thinking, “I have no control over how I feel, so I’m not even going to try.”
But keeping empath overwhelm at bay requires a lot of trying. Luckily it doesn’t have to feel like hard work when you build your lifestyle around your empath needs.
Make emotional release and mental peace a part of your routine with daily walks, meditation, and journalling.
Put yourself in calmer environments that soothe you, rather than assault you with overstimulation. My Introvert Self-Care Checklist outlines a daily routine that is great for empaths.
Water is a powerful source of healing and peace for empaths. Whether we are bathing, swimming, or simply gazing upon a body of water, we instantly feel more calm. Not only that.
Water, particularly the ocean, can help us to return to our true nature. In her book Dying to Be Me, a memoir about her near death experience, Anita Moorjani explains the mystical power of the sea:
“Over the years since my NDE, I’ve experienced changes in my external requirements, too. I’ve discovered that I need to be near nature, particularly the sea, in order to feel my best. Similar to the wonder I felt in my first days out of the hospital, I find that I can instantly connect with my NDE state by looking at the waves and listening to the ocean.”
Over to you
What are your favorite ways to cope with empath overwhelm? Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
And if you’re new here, be sure to grab my free Introvert Connection Guide.