Self-Care For Empaths
I want to talk more specifically about self-care for certain groups of people, like we did for people with chronic illness. Self-care is a huge aspect of self-love, but one of the hardest elements to implement, and it not only changes from person to person, but from population to population. I spoke about three specific groups of people (empaths, entrepreneurs, and people with depression) in a podcast, and I am now breaking them down into smaller blog posts for you to reference. Of course, feel free to listen to the original podcast as well!
Most of the time the problem is we think we don’t have time. Now, as my friend, Sarah Starrs, aptly pointed out, you don’t have as many hours in the day as Beyoncé does. She has people she can outsource almost everything to. She can get her hair, make-up, and nails done while she catches up on podcasts, books, or shows. She can work on practicing choreography and writing songs while her hired help watches her daughter, goes shopping for groceries, and cleans their house. She has more hands, and therefore more time, than the average person.
Of course everyone has different lives. The amount of “free” time you have available drastically depends on if you have kids (and how many), if you have a full-time job, what your commute is like, if you have more than one job, if you have a significant other, if you’re going to school, etc. etc. But the reality is we make time for the things that we determine are important.
One of my least favorite things is when someone tells me I have too much “free time”. I created my own business and can technically “make” my own hours, I’m not in school, I don’t have a commute, and I definitely don’t have kids. In comparison to someone who does have all those things you’d easily be able to say I have “more free time” than them. Still not quite as much as Beyoncé because let me tell you that building a business and struggling financially for years is fucking hard, but still. I recognize I don’t have to be responsible for another human life or spend two hours in a car every day to get to my job.
However, like I said, we make time for the things we think are important. If you say you don’t have time for your hobbies that’s because you decided something else was more important than them on your priority list. There really are only 24 hours in a day and I’m not denying that. BUT, you absolutely need to decide that self-care needs to be pretty fucking high up on your priority list. That might mean you don’t have as much time to dedicate to #6 on your priority list, but I promise that by making time for self-care you will not only start to feel happier and more relaxed, but you’ll have a clearer head which will make it easier for you to figure out ways to fit more into your life.
When I was working full time and commuting forty miles to college where I took four classes every semester, I still had a boyfriend and friends who I saw. I still started a blog that was able to turn into my new career. I still created guerrilla art because it fed my soul. I had to double up on some things. I worked on my blog during lunch hours, I knitted while I hung out with people or during meetings at work so I could further my yarnbombs along. I did things like that because I knew I didn’t have that many hours that weren’t devoted to structured things like work and school, so I wanted to maximize the way I spent my time to maximize my happiness. If it got to be Saturday and I had no guerrilla art projects to post in the city, I’d be sad. So I knew I needed to make at least a couple hours’ worth of time for that during the work week.
It would make me infuriated when I spent weeks trying to find small chunks of the day to knit giant panels and I finally had enough material to cover a bench or a tree in my handmade knitting and people would scoff and say, “You clearly have too much free time”. I would go off on people and say, “NO! I DON’T, ACTUALLY! I JUST HAVE DIFFERENT PRIORITIES THAN YOU.”
Basically what I’m getting at is self-care is one of the most important things people leave off their priority list and if it’s not on yours then you need to make sure you re-write your list tonight. You might not have as much time after work to yourself as your neighbor or best friend, but you decide how you spend that time and if you prioritize self-care you will watch your world open up even more. It pays for itself ten times over.
Today I want to focus on how to practice self-care for empaths.
An empath is someone who is naturally in tune with other people’s emotions, vibes, and energy. Some people are able to tap into it when necessary, but very often it’s not something that happens voluntarily – no matter how much they enjoy or dislike it. It’s just a part of their personality and the way their mind works.
Empaths are highly sensitive, not just to knowing what other people, animals, and groups are feeling and thinking, but it can hit them even harder than a non-empath. The word empathy, often mixed up with “sympathy”, simply means that you are able to understand the feelings of something else, even if you haven’t specifically experienced that feeling yourself, whereas sympathy is when you can identify with that person’s feelings and it’s easier for you to feel “pity” for lack of a better term because you’ve been there yourself.
I’m an empath, and I know plenty. When tragedy strikes we’re almost incapacitated. It’s hard to explain, but it’s pretty easy for other people to notice.
In 2015 the Baltimore riots were happening, every morning when I got dressed I would put on all black and grey. I didn’t realize I was doing it. The third day, I showed up at my boyfriend’s house and he asked what was wrong. He was alarmed at my outfit before he recognized my facial expressions and behavior because if you know me even a little, you know I wear the brightest colors possible every day. I said, “What?” and looked down. I realized I was wearing all black, and when I got home the top half of my hamper was covered in only dark clothes. I was in mourning, essentially.
When I watch the news (which is rare) I can barely get through it. I usually have to get up and leave the room if I’m not in charge of the remote. I immediately feel the emotions of the people telling their stories or have their stories told for them because they’re not able to do it themselves. I cry and feel physical pain.
So when the riots were happening in Baltimore, it was a lot closer to home. Not just because I live there, but because the pain I felt was from so many people all at once around me, in close proximity. An entire city was furious, depressed, and helpless. I felt all of that as a physical weight on my chest. I also experience anxiety, and I get a tension in my chest when I’m getting very anxious, but I must say those two feelings are very different for me. I can identify them clearly as separate physiological reactions.
Being an empath can be great for learning about your friends, detecting emotions in someone who wouldn’t otherwise seek help, and being in tune to the world around you. We’re generally highly creative and imaginative as well as amazing listeners. But it can also really, really suck. It’s draining, exhausting, and it affects your life even when the emotions aren’t yours. It’s kind of like having depression on behalf of another person.
So how do you practice self-care as an empath? Here are a few tips for you:
• Meditate, for 10-20 minutes every day
• Avoid the news and current events as much as you can without being ignorant of your environment
• Practice saying no to things, even just one thing a day to start with
• Spend time in nature and consider bringing it indoors with fresh flowers or a plant in your living room – you’ll feed on the good vibes of nature which can help build your sensitivity reserves for the next negative experience
• Same goes with animals – spend time with them or get yourself a pet!
• Prioritize sleep; get your eight hours or more
• Minimize your time around people who you know frequently suck your energy (I actually wrote an entire post on if doing this is overtly insensitive or irresponsible)
• Declutter your personal space – it can be easier for empaths to get overwhelmed, so make sure you minimize the chance for that where you have control
• Utilize the scent of lavender, get some essential oils or sprinkle it in your bath – it can help with healing and protection
• Keep these gemstones around you—they’re good for protection: Black Tourmaline, Malachite, Amethyst, Citrine, and Obsidian (don’t forget to charge them every full moon!)
What tips do you empaths have for personal self-care?
Photography: Maura Housley