Being an empath means being highly sensitive to the energies around you. People, places, objects, events and environments all have a profound effect on how you feel.
Being open to so much information all the time can easily send you on an emotional rollercoaster. Not in the least because very few people truly understand how deeply affected you can be.
Commuting to work used to be my hellfire. Being on the underground in the press of morning rush hour made me feel claustrophobic, and on the rare occasion I wasn’t shielded by my big headphones, reading a book or playing games on my phone, I was talking myself down from a panic attack.
But if the sunlight happened to reflect in a particular way off of the tall buildings surrounding the station as I got out, I could easily be captivated and stop to admire it, being transported away from the stress and anxiety for a moment.
Until the bag of someone who was running late would clip me and their irritation would wash over me. My brow set in a scowl I’d get to work, yank on my uniform and furiously chew gum until I got up to my floor where I put on that final porcelain mask and gritted my teeth, ready to start my shift.
Back then I didn’t know how to protect myself from all the impulses and information the world was throwing at me. And that’s one of the most important things you need to learn if you want to live a life where you aren’t constantly overwhelmed and exhausted.
Here I’ve listed 14 things you can easily incorporate into your daily routine and use whenever you need to feel more secure in yourself.
How do you know if you’re an empath? When you are, you often feel like you’re crazy. Because your mood swings from one extreme to another without any obvious reason. You start thinking that maybe you’re just emotionally unstable.
When you go out among people, it’s like their energies and moods stick to you like cat hair to black trousers. And, god forbid, you end up talking to people who are filled with negativity because you’ll end up feeling drained – while they’ll feel so much better after pouring their heart out to you!
But, mmmm, solitude. Alone you feel balanced, centred, calm, energised, happy. You get flak for “spending so much time alone” but it’s what you secretly think about during social engagements and will take any chance to sneak out early to go do.
And when you listen to music, you easily connect with the melody and your mood is profoundly affected by the song. You can rapidly change your mood by listening to a different song – going from happy to melancholic to aggressive very quickly.
How do you find your balance as an empath?
Being highly sensitive is a great gift. Except when you don’t know how to ground yourself, then it’s a nightmare. Keeping your balance is so, so important because as an empath there is always so much energy around to throw you off your centre.
Loud noises, flashing lights, crowds, overheard snippets of conversation, advertisements trying to gain your attention, are all activating that fight-or-flight mechanism in your body and throwing you off balance.
When you learn how to consciously manage your energy, recognise your triggers and protect yourself from becoming overwhelmed, you’ll be able to walk through a crowd feeling calm and centred.
As an empath, you tend to draw away from people, and close yourself off. And as you withdraw from people, you also withdraw from your life and your dreams. You can easily give up your power over your own choices when you feel like the world is too complicated and burdensome to deal with.
You can end up destroying a relationship with someone you love. You can shrink back from following your dreams because it just feels too chaotic and overwhelming. Or your daily life can feel like purgatory because you feel like you just can’t catch a break.
When you learn how to protect and balance yourself you won’t be so moody and less of a drama llama (which you end up being despite your best intentions). The energy you’ll free up within yourself can be the chance you’ve been waiting for to spend more time with your loved ones, to finally do something you haven’t found the time to do or even pick up a new hobby.
Find your balance means you have less emotional drama. You’ll have more time and energy for things that matter and, as a result, a more fulfilling and happy life.
14 easy ways to manage your energy
1) Prevent it
The best way to prevent yourself from empathic overwhelm is to prevent it altogether.
Make sure that you carefully consider how much time you need in between events to yourself, so that you can get enough of that precious alone time doing the things you love.
Bigger events (e.g. parties) require more downtime afterwards than smaller events (e.g. grocery shopping).
2) Journal about it
Making journaling a regular habit is a great way for you to connect with your inner wisdom and let go of energy that’s gotten stuck.
As empaths, we mostly feel energy as emotions, and by writing down how you feel, you’re transforming that energy from holding you back to propelling you forward (or at least not weighing you down anymore).
By releasing your negative and “leftover” thoughts and emotions, you’ll become emotionally more stable.
3) Clear your energy
Meditation, yoga, tapping or breathwork all qualify. Developing some daily practices, at some point in the day, will help you shed accumulated energy.
You can also begin and/or end your day with some kind of centring practice. Find the things that work for you and don’t worry about what works for someone else. This is about you.
4) Avoid energy vampires
You know who I’m talking about; those people who leave you feel drained, upset and insecure after spending time with them.
Use shielding practices to minimise their effect on you and make sure that you’re prepared to meet them in a calm and centred manner – especially if you’re dealing with a narcissist or a bully.
5) Clean it up
When you’re starting to feel like you’re taking on too much or negative energy a quick visualisation to clear your aura is in order!
Imagine a big universal vacuum cleaner draw all the bad energy away from you. Or it can be a small handheld style vacuum that you imagine running over every inch of your body, clearing out all the clutter and leaving behind clear clean energy.
6) Send it back
Also known as “return to sender”, this is for when you start feeling like you’re picking up something that isn’t originating in you. Like when a mood suddenly comes out of nowhere.
When that happens it’s always a good idea to stop and check if you need to just send it back. Since you’re basically a sponge absorbing the moods and thoughts and even physical symptoms of others, you can easily get lost in what you take on.
You don’t need to know where it came from or who sent it, you can just visualise it getting sent back to wherever it came from and just let it go as you do.
7) Shield yourself
Especially, when you’re starting to feel the emotional overwhelm building, or if you’re going into a situation that you know is going to be triggering for you, it’s a good idea to create a buffer.
I like to imagine a shield of light surrounding me, creating a safe space, and transforming anything that passes through it (coming close to me) into harmless twinkling lights that dance away on the wind like fireflies.
8) Find water
Purification rituals with water are practiced all over the world – and there is nothing like water to wash away any unwanted thoughts, feelings and energy.
You can drink water or tea (make sure you stay hydrated as well!), go to water to look at it or swim in it (water features, rain, rivers, the beach or ocean etc.), take a shower or a bath or simply imagine a waterfall or rainfall washing away whatever is blocking your flow.
9) Go into nature
Finding whatever greenery you can or going for a walk in the park or forest is calming and healing for anyone – but especially for empaths who feel renewed by plants and nature.
Sometimes, it can be enough to just find some greenery in your environment, like a few office plants or walk down a street planted with trees, and let their presence soothe you.
Having a desk plant can also be very grounding, especially if you get one that’s a little bigger and leafy.
I have a parlour palm that’s about 20 inches (60 cm) tall on my desk and the energy it brings really calms me and helps me focus. Whenever I have to put it somewhere else (in case I end up giving it too much water it moves into the sauna for a few days to dry out) I find it hard to focus and my brain feels super scattered.
I’ve had small plants and succulents before, but now that I’ve had a big desk plant I’m always going to opt for a bigger plant!
10) Breathe it out
Breathing is one of the quickest and most effective ways to control your body and your mind.
By breathing in a controlled manner you’re instantly affecting your parasympathetic nervous system and triggering the rest-and-digest response.
Inhale to a count of 4 and exhale to a count of 4. Repeat this 10 times.
On every inhale, feel how your spine lengthens towards the sky, giving you space. And how you root down deeper into the ground on the exhale, grounding yourself, letting go of tension, fear, anxiety.
Working up a good sweat will make you feel better in a natural way. By exercising you boost both oxytocin (the happy hormone) and endorphins (the feel-good hormones).
Sweating also helps to clear out accumulated toxins from your body and kickstarts your metabolism. Remember to drink plenty of water to keep hydrated!
If you feel the need to move your body but don’t want to do a full workout, just dancing it out also works. Remember to dance like no one is watching!
12) Use totems
When you feel like you need something to focus on, you can use a totem.
On days when I feel like I need to surround myself with love, I wear the earrings and/or necklace I got as a wedding present because they remind me of my husband and his love for me.
When I was pregnant I was very tired very often and took to wearing a bear that was hand-carved out of amethyst to help me find the strength to get through a day at work.
13) Listen to music
Music is so versatile – louder more aggressive music can help you find determination and focus, or even help you tune out the crowd. Soft and calming music can help you direct your energy and find a state of flow.
If you’re highly influenced by the music you listen to, use this to your advantage!
I have an elaborate collection of playlists that help me manage my energy. I make sure to check in with myself to see how my nervous system is doing and assess if it needs a boost of energy to get moving forward again or if I’m going too fast and need support to bring down my energy and focus.
I use instrumental music when I need to work-distraction free or shut out distracting sounds. Or I listen to one song on repeat (sometimes for days) until my mind doesn’t grab onto the words anymore.
14) Hug & snuggle
Find a willing participant, preferably someone soft and furry, or simply someone who makes you feel better and get a hug, a snuggle or even a nap!
Bitch and rant to them when you need it and envelop yourself in the comfort their presence gives you. Hugs are the quickest way to get a good dose of oxytocin (the happiness hormone) to make you feel better.
As an empath, you need to have daily grounding habits
If that means burrowing into a blanket cave after every trip to the outside world, then do it. And supplement it by wearing oversized hoodies or cosy scarves even when you’re out there. You lose nothing by making yourself as secure and comfortable as possible and gain everything.
And when there’s something happening in your life, some kind of big change or major difference in your routine, anything that will make you stressed, you need to double, triple and quadruple the time you spend on grounding and balancing yourself.
You also need to carefully scrutinise how much you can do and how much time you need between social contacts since you’ll be more open and vulnerable. Take a lot of time for yourself, in big and small ways, because difficult moments drain your strength and make you energetically more open to being influenced by your environment.
And remember: you only take on the energy of other people when you allow it. By building up your own capacity to cope, actively protect it and nurture it – all the things that aren’t truly important to you will just fall away like water off a duck’s back.
And when you want to be available and present for others, you are only going to be of use to them when you don’t care for them at your own expense.
As an empath, it’s super important that you prioritise balancing your own healing and ground your own energy before making yourself available to others.
When you want to help someone and be present for them, you aren’t going to be any use if you help others at your own expense. Prioritise balancing your own healing and grounding your own energy before making yourself available to others.