Being an empath in today's world is very difficult. The world these days is cruel, cold and brutal. However, it is also beautiful and amazing, and the key is to never lose sight of the good when we feel overwhelmed by the bad. Not everybody is an empath, of course (though there are some things you can look for if you think you might be one), but we can all use a little protection from the emotional battering of the world in it's current incarnation.
- Pay attention to what your body is telling you. Most modern medicine is about silencing the body. We hear how we have to push through the pain and keep on even when we are exhausted. We take supplements or ingest chemicals like caffeine designed to silence, mask or alter what the body is trying to tell us. We may feel this to be necessary sometimes, but it is almost always a mistake. Aches, pains, irritability, chronic illness and feeling tired are warning signs that your body and your mind have had enough. Don't ignore them. Take time when you need to and learn to say "no." This is often the empath's biggest obstacle; it is very difficult to turn people away when we know we can help, but you are no good to anyone if you are not well. You cannot take care of anybody without first taking care of yourself.
- Avoid too many chemicals or sugars. A lot of times, being an empath means dealing with overstimulation. Chemicals like caffeine, additives, artificial colors and sugars can make overstimulation much worse, leading to anxiety and other problems. Cut out the caffeine and the sugar as much as possible.
- Get enough sleep. This seems like a no-brainer, but how many of us actually get enough sleep? Not getting enough sleep is often treated as no big deal, but it has been proven to have the same effect on you as a .05 blood-alcohol content. This dulls reaction times, affects accuracy with tasks, makes us irritable and causes things to bother us more than they should. Empaths need to have all pistons firing correctly if we want to be able to deal with what the world is throwing at us, so be sure to get enough sleep. How do you know you've gotten enough sleep? Your body will let you know.
- Meditate. We probably hear this too much, but the benefits of meditation cannot really be overstated. Studies have proven that meditation works as well or better than psychiatric drugs for combating anxiety, depression and other problems. It can be difficult to do at first, especially with our society's limited attention spans but it is worth it to keep trying. Even if you don't feel like anything is "happening" while you meditate, your brain and your body are benefiting from the relaxation and over time, you will notice a change.
- Remember to be grateful. This one is not as easy as you might suppose. Think about it: in the course of one day, how often do you just feel simple gratitude? How often are you grateful for what you have, or just grateful to be alive? It can be very difficult to remember good things when we are under a constant barrage of negativity from all sides. It's everywhere, and we can very easily be pulled down into despair over it if we don't remind ourselves that there is good out there, too. Easy ways to do that would be to look for stories of people helping each other, writing down 5 things you are grateful for every day and saying them out loud, helping others who are less fortunate (gratitude is contagious!), remembering times when you yourself were less fortunate and how it got better... There are so many things to be grateful for in this life. Don't forget any of them.
- Let yourself be amazed. We take many things for granted in this life, but if we really think about them, so many of them are truly amazing. Everything from the compact disc to the human hand has it's own wonder. How often do you think about it?
- Get back to nature. One of the biggest reasons people are so stressed nowadays is that they are living lives they were not made for. Humans were not created to work, sleep and die. We are wonderfully, beautifully, amazingly complex emotional creatures capable of a huge spectrum of behavior and emotion. We live very unnatural lives compared to our ancestors and taking time to reconnect with that is very beneficial for the mind, body and spirit. Put the phone down. Turn off the TV. Go for a walk. Go camping. Go barefoot! You may have heard of "earthing," which is walking barefoot on the earth in order to ground and balance your body. There is an entire science behind this and it feels wonderful regardless. (This is also called "grounding" in reference to our body's electrical systems and grounding is very important for empaths to do.) Get some fresh air and really give yourself time to be alive for a while. You'll be amazed what a difference it makes.
- Visualize protection for yourself. If you find yourself in a situation that is overwhelming you (such as a place where there are a lot of other people, or when dealing with an emotional vampire), the best protection is in your mind. Empaths and sensitive souls receive other people's emotional vibrations like an antenna. This can make being around large groups of people difficult and exhausting, even scary or frightening. The way to beat it is to block the reception of this energy. Before entering the situation, close your eyes and visualize the energy being blocked from you. You can visualize an impenetrable shield or bubble around yourself that energy cannot get through. You can visualize an antenna retracting back into your mind so that it is no longer capable of receiving people's emotional output. You can visualize a door closing and blocking access to the recesses of your mind, a cord being unplugged, a ribbon being cut... Whatever visualization appeals to you, you can use and it will work. There is no wrong way to do it. It can take some practice to get it down pat, but the important thing is that the visualization be strong. If you are already in the situation and feel overwhelmed, you can either go into a quiet area and do it or simply concentrate hard right where you are. It does not take long and you should feel some release from the pressure of other people's minds immediately.
- Learn to say no. This bears repeating. Remember: you don't owe anyone anything. Of course we are tasked with helping others; that's why we were created as empaths. This does not mean that we are supposed to help others to our own detriment. Narcissists and other emotional leeches love empaths. They seek us out, because we are like psychic batteries to them, and they will hang on draining us until there is nothing left if we do not stop them. Helping others is never supposed to be a burden. Listen to yourself and learn when enough is enough.
It isn't easy being an empath these days but it is so rewarding. By learning to ground and protect yourself, you are making life better for not only yourself but for those you are charged with taking care of in this lifetime.