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Yes, it’s true that being an empath can be a struggle. We just feel energy SO much more deeply than most of the population. They don’t get us, and so we get labeled as being “overly sensitive” or “a drama queen”. We just experience emotions, both ours and those of others, on a level that is overwhelming at times. Because of this, we spend a good chunk of our lives in a state of chronic stress. And it’s made worse when we don’t know how to manage that energy and practice good energy self-care regularly! Understanding the things that stress out empaths most certainly helps. You can’t manage energy very well when you don’t know what is impacting it the most.
What are the things that tend to stress out empaths the most?
Empaths are an emotional sponge. We literally feel the emotions of others. And we can feel the emotions of others as if they are our own. So put us in a large group and it can drain us pretty quickly. All of that emotional energy coming at us can be very overwhelming. This is one of the reasons why we tend to leave parties or large gatherings earlier than the rest. Our energy just gets so depleted that we need to go spend some time in solitude to release energy and recharge.
Violence or cruelty
I don’t know about you, but I avoid violent and scary movies and television shows. And that includes the news, which can be scarier than any Hollywood horror flick! Most empaths are going to steer clear of programming that is violent, scary, or shows cruelty. We just feel that energy so strongly that it is overpowering! We also don’t tolerate mean people. Watching people belittle, shame, or be cruel to other people or animals is a quick way to stress out empaths!
Seeing others in pain or distress
For most empaths, we feel the pain of people who are experiencing distress. And we want their pain to go away! Empaths naturally want to soothe others and help relieve their pain in order to relieve our experience of their pain. Even seeing a complete stranger in distress can prompt us to act. But when a family member or friend is struggling, that urge is even greater. The problem is that there are so many people struggling right now, that many empaths are dealing with compassion fatigue. Suffering from compassion fatigue is a growing problem and can lead to burnout and chronic illness if unmanaged.
The nervous system of an empath is wired to be super-sensitive. This means that we process stimuli on a very deep level. That includes the things that people say to us. We really don’t ever want to let down another person. We just feel it so deeply when someone else isn’t happy with us or with something we’ve done. So most empaths work very hard to get things right the first time. Yes, that often leads us to become perfectionists AND people-pleasers. But criticism is a part of life, and when the inevitable criticism does come our way, we take it personally…VERY personally. And being criticized can leave us feeling as if we aren’t good enough.
As an empath with a ramped-up nervous system, being rushed can make us downright anxious! It takes us time to process things fully and to think through them so that we can make the appropriate plans. We just process things more slowly than most of the population. So when we feel rushed it puts additional pressure on us that can actually cause us more stress. We will struggle to complete a task because we feel the need to get things done quickly, bypassing our typical processing time. It is one of the reasons why empaths hate having schedules that are too full. Busy schedules often lead to feeling rushed to get things done too often.
While most of the world recognizes that small talk is a way to strike up a conversation, those of us who are empaths see it as draining. We are deep thinkers, and we would much rather have conversations that are deep and meaningful. Making small talk about things that are more shallow or superficial depletes our energy. This type of discussion can become overwhelming to us pretty quickly.
Having too much to do and no downtime
We need a LOT of quiet, alone time to process and release the energy we’ve been around that day. When we don’t have adequate time to decompress and process we wind up chronically stressed. A busy schedule can not only leave us overwhelmed but can also leave us feeling depressed or anxious as well.
Being around a “Negative Nellie”, reading the angry responses to a social media post, or hearing people being judgmental or negative can throw us into an emotional tailspin. If you watch the news a lot or scroll social media regularly, you may be aware of how much negativity there is in the media. Emotional contagion is real and much of the population has fallen into the negativity trap. Just look at all of the comments people leave on social media or in response to news articles and you’ll see the pattern. But as energetic sponges, we soak up that negativity more easily. And it impacts us more strongly as well and can even affect our health.
Have you ever had to have a difficult conversation with a spouse or loved one? Or maybe you needed to speak to your boss about a problem that you are having with a co-worker. Conflict is uncomfortable for most people. But conflict is one of the biggest ways to stress out empaths. We struggle with conflict because our empathy is so high. We never want to hurt or upset another human being. And that causes us to avoid conflict at any cost…often causing us to not stand up for ourselves. Even the thought of possible conflict with someone can leave an empath anxious and worried about what could happen. This can even manifest itself as physical symptoms such as stomach issues or headaches.
Change is guaranteed in life. And change can be a difficult thing for anyone to face. We get comfortable with things the way they are. But for us empaths, change can be particularly hard. All of the new external stimuli and situations that accompany change can be overwhelming for us. Even if those changes are positive and beneficial. Remember that we process things differently than most. We need more time to process and release energy. We might face positive changes such as starting a new job, moving, or getting married. As positive as these things are, they often come with times when we are too busy. We may feel rushed to get things done and we may not have the downtime we need to decompress and process. This leaves us in a state of overstimulation. This can result in overreacting or having a meltdown.
Becoming aware of the things that are increasing your stress is the first step in learning how to provide better energetic self-care for yourself. You can’t change something if you don’t understand where the stress is starting.