Last week I started posting on TikTok, and one of my videos (15 traits of an Empath) went a little wild (over 108K views, and counting). I'm overwhelmed with the response and comments. Which of course triggered all my HSP/Empath feels (in a good way). I ended that video by saying that as Empaths, we LOVE BIG. Well, on replying to as many comments as I could, I felt that LOVE BIG in all parts of my being late last night. Thank you, I'm humbled.
Many many of those comments spoke about how exhausting it can be to be an empath, dealing with all these sensitivities and feelings. I agree, it can be exhausting. And many other commenters asked how do we manage being empathic?
My answer to that question comes down to our body chemistry. We feel these feels because our nervous systems are hyper-sensitive (HSPs) and our hormone systems are highly sensitive (Empaths). Think of your nervous system like the electrical wiring of your body. As HSPs, our wiring is much more touchy. While we receive more subtle electrical impulses, our wiring also shorts circuits and frays more easily. Now, our nerves are part of the central nervous system brain wiring that sends messages and orders to our hormone system of what to do. Now, I have no scientific or biological proof, but energetically, I believe that as Empaths, our hormone juices are more potent than other people's. That means that when our already sensitive nerves send messages to hormones to kick into gear, a tiny bit of hormone goes a really long ways. Which means we can get both nervous system overload and hormone overload more easily. Which explains why we like to hide in blanket forts until everything calms down.
But we can't hide in blanket forts all the time. So we have to figure out how to manage these sensitivities in order to live in the everyday world.
The best way to manage our HSP/Empath Sensitivities
is to take control of our nervous system and hormone system.
Therapists and psychologists and psychiatrists and doctors and researchers have come up with three ways to deal with human emotions (our sensitivities). And these techniques are proven to work, but for HSPs and Empaths, they are extremely difficult to put into action.
3 Methods That Work (but not so well for HSP/Empaths)
Anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, and anti-anxiety medications do work in that they will numb the nerves, which then will tone down their messaging to the hormones. But most HSPs and Empaths will complain about the drugs for two very significant reasons. First, being highly sensitive, the side effects will likely be worse than the desired effect. In many cases, especially anti-depressants, the opposite effect will result. For example, when I took a quarter dose of prozac for depression, I actually followed through on a suicide attempt thirty minutes later (thank goodness that attempt failed...and I never took that drug again). As another example, when I took a half dose of Paxil, I fell asleep...for THREE DAYS! Many of my clients have told me that they've tried medications but they make them feel numb, and their quality of life got worse in different ways.
I'm not saying don't take medication. Sometimes it is necessary. In my twenties I needed an extremely low dose (almost placebo effect dosage) of Zoloft to kick my hormones back into gear after a long bout of severe grief. I'm just saying that for us HSP/Empaths, the road to finding the right medication can be very very difficult because we are hyper-sensitive to side effects.
Clinical studies have proven that regular and consistent meditation practice effectively treats anxiety, depression, PTSD, and many other mood and emotion disorder problems. Yes, it works. and it works REALLY well...for those who can do it. But most people can't get beyond the extremely long and challenging learning curve that comes with a consistent and effective meditation practice.
Think about it, as HSP/Empaths, we are highly sensitive to stimuli, and our brains just move faster than most. Asking us to sit still and not respond and clear our minds for 15-30 minutes at a time every single day...well...it can be pure torture! When we sit still, every single one of our senses will kick up a bit higher! We feel every itch and scratch, we hear every otherwise-muffled noise, we see through our eyelids! Let's face it, most of us just can't sustain a consistent meditation practice.
Another clinically proven technique to treating anxiety, depression, PTSD and other mood imbalances is yoga. Again, yes, it works. But again, most people cannot sustain a consistent and regular enough practice for it to work in the long-term.
As HSP/Empaths, yoga is easier to sustain than meditation because at least we are moving, which gives us something to distract our brains with doing...we also come from a world where we feel like we have to learn yoga from a teacher, which means going to a class and being around other people, and being exposed to more empath feels. I can tell you that I have been to plenty of yoga classes where as much as I tried to focus on myself, the energies in the room were too much and I walked away absorbing as much as I was expelling.
What DOES Work for HSP/Empaths
Mindfulness is the HSP/Empaths greatest medicine because it is how we can experience our feels, and let them move through us without getting stuck on repeat (anxiety). Mindfulness is about being present in the moment, being aware and awake and conscious of what you are experiencing at the moment it is happening. Mindfulness is about feeling things fully as they are happening and letting them pass when the moment is over.
There is a common misconception that mindfulness and meditation are the same thing. This couldn't be farther from the truth. Meditation (and yoga) are simply things you can do that cultivate mindfulness. But you don't have to meditate or do yoga to be mindful. They are just two clinically proven and tested practices that support mindfulness. But even so, they are ways to be mindful in the moment you are meditating or doing the yoga, but translating that mindfulness into everyday life doesn't always happen easily.
But there is a much easier way to cultivate mindfulness, and it is something you do all day every day. . .
Breath is the absolute best way to soothe your nerves and balance your hormones, and it works almost instantly! It's why we say "BREATHE" or "breathe through it" or "just take a deep breath." Our electrical wiring needs oxygen to send the messages along our nerves. When we breathe and get that oxygen into our systems, the nerve wiring instantly works better. When the nerve wiring works better, the hormone response is more effective. Breath just makes space and clarity for everything. It always works. But we have to DO IT. When we BREATHE MINDFULLY everything gets better instantly. Can you imagine what would happen if you learned to BREATHE MINDFULLY ALL THE TIME!
Unfortunately, no one taught us how to breathe, and even if we have learn how to breathe better, we constantly forget.
As an HSP with all five senses on high alert, and an Empath whose hormones are far more touchy than most, I have studied yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and breathing, and I have discovered a form of breathing that works every single time, and works for multiple purposes. I use it all day every single day, and it helps me with absolutely every circumstance of my life.
Take the Focused Breathing Online Course to start your process of managing your sensitivities. It works AND it's easy. I promise.
Don't like online courses? Book an Appointment with me for personalized breathing training.