HSP + Empath Self-Care
10 steps to peace + power for empathic HSPs + my weekly Good Vibes – unsubscribe anytime!
Self-care for highly sensitive empaths is a guide to help empaths, Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) and introverts navigate the rough and tumble of modern life.
You may be a high achiever, accomplished and a leader who has adopted a tough shell to keep yourself safe.
Yet, your true nature as a highly sensitive empath means you have a thin barrier between your core self + the outside world.
This means your body picks up the energies around you, from other people, environments + places. You may get home from work completely drained.
Emotions are deeply felt, and not just your own. You process intense joy and other positive feelings.
Yet, you can also be a channel for other people’s unexpressed pain. This can be exhausting.
If you are also an introvert, you may need to spend a lot of time alone to recharge your batteries.
Highly sensitive empaths + self esteem
Highly sensitive empaths can suffer from low self esteem if they don’t know that being a HSP has many benefits + gifts.
Low self esteem can include a low evaluation of your personality, character, strengths, potential + talents.
Even high achievers can have low self-esteem. In fact, low self-esteem is sometimes what drives people to achieve so much!
Most people need a degree of sensitivity – or empathy – to be socially accepted. Otherwise, they would not be able to build relationships.
However, for highly sensitive empaths sensitivity is heightened to the extent that it can be uncomfortable.
For many years I felt handicapped by my sensitivity.
I couldn’t see any benefits to experiencing life so vividly and profoundly.
As a child and young adult I was frequently told “You are too sensitive”.
When I received unwanted information or feelings from the world around me, it made me feel that there was something wrong with me.
I regularly felt confused about whether what I was feeling was real or imagined. I never knew when I was being triggered by my own ‘stuff’ or reacting to someone else’s baggage.
After many years of self-enquiry, searching and healing, I slowly began to accept my true self.
I am a highly sensitive empath + introvert.
I’ve come to believe that high sensitivity, empathy and introversion are simply gifts that needs to be managed correctly.
With good habits, you can thrive as a highly sensitive empath or introvert.
…and turn your sensitivity into a powerful force for good!
If you are unsure of what you bring to the world + why you feel the way you do, these three things may help:
Get hold of Elaine N. Aron’s book The Highly Sensitive Person.
Secondly, understand that ‘being sensitive’ is actually a job description. For example, at healing colleges. That means that you are ideally suited to the caring or helping professions!
Thirdly, know that the human energy field, consciousness and unconscious material (shadow, wounds, baggage, etc) intertwine and affect each other.
Hidden emotional atmospheres impact highly sensitive empaths.
You are not odd for picking up on other people’s feelings: you are often just sensing their unconscious. What an incredible skill to have!
Hopefully learning about all the good HSPs can do, will impact your self identity in a positive way.
Furthermore, if you can adopt some of the self-care for highly sensitive empaths in my guide, you’ll have taken the first step on the road to self esteem, happiness, more energy + better boundaries.
Personal space is self-care for sensitive empaths
Part of the reason that highly sensitive empaths have a chink in their identity is that being sensitive, empathic or introverted is often misunderstood or devalued.
For instance, in 2017, I was excluded from joining a Facebook group because I disclosed I was a ‘sensitive’ to the group leader.
One of the other members posted a message saying: “No wallflowers!”.
Being highly sensitive, empathic or introverted does not make you shy, timid or socially inept.
Many introverts are confident – they are just not the loudest person in the room.
Introverts also need time away from people to recharge. Unlike extroverts, who are energised by social interactions, introverts can feel drained in large groups.
Nevertheless, according to research, 30% of highly sensitive people are extroverted.
There is also a misperception that being sensitive means you are weak. Insensitive people can keep going for longer without adequate self-care, but sensitive people have inner fortitude.
This inner reserve and high tolerance for others’ problems, can mean HSPs may even be stronger in some areas due to their sensitivity.
For example, highly sensitive empaths are more able to respond with kindness, compassion + without judgement in difficult situations or with difficult people, instead of reacting simplistically, blindly or harshly.
Highly sensitive empaths are able to carry great burdens of responsibility for others due to their empathic nature. This is because they don’t want to let others down or cause people pain.
I don’t endorse suffering or sacrifice. It’s just that highly sensitive empaths often take on other peoples’ emotional issues as their own. This heavy lifting is not for the fainthearted!
Clinical psychologist Lindsay Gibson describes highly sensitive and perceptive ‘internalisers‘. These empaths solve their problems from the inside out, by being self-reflective and trying to learn from mistakes.
These highly sensitive empaths are self-reliant and take responsibility due to early life in a family where not all of their needs were met.
Their childhood role made them brilliant listeners and carers.
Rather than being weak, internalisers seek to solve their own problems – and those of their family – by healing themselves.
Are you the only family member who wants to heal yourself?
If you have grown up in a dysfunctional family, you may be an internaliser.
Highly sensitive empaths are either born that way or they become sensitised due to traumatic or difficult life experiences.
A large number of gifted healers and intuitives have developed high sensitivity + empathy as a result of traumatic childhoods.
Examples include Betty Shine, Lorna Byrne, Michele Knight and the real Horse Whisperer, Monty Roberts.
Why ‘self care‘ for sensitive empaths?
When you take care of yourself and your highly sensitive energy, you prevent burnout and compassion fatigue.
Good self care habits help you stay balanced and calm even amidst confusing atmospheres or turbulent energy exchanges.
For instance, if you are trying to Escape A Toxic Office or toxic workplace, a good self-care routine gives you the protection you need to stay sane.
Are you highly sensitive empath?
Elaine N Aron PhD believes Highly Sensitive People make up 15-20% of the human population. Her research showed that the trait is also found in many other species.
These are the clues she says may make you a HSP:
• Are you overwhelmed or unbalanced by bright lights, strong smells or loud noises?
• Do you get rattled when try to do lots in a short time?
• Do you make a point of avoiding violent movies, video games + TV shows?
• Do you need to withdraw after busy days, into a bed, a darkened room or some other place where you can have privacy?
• Do you make it a high priority to arrange your life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations?
• Do you notice or enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds or works of art?
• Do you have a rich + complex inner life?
• When you were a child, did parents or teachers see you as sensitive?
If you’ve answered yes to any of the above, you may be a highly sensitive empath. Take Elaine’s Highly Sensitive Person Test.
Another clue that you might be highly sensitive are your palms!
In palmistry, highly sensitive people usually have lots of fine lines all over their palm. Fine lines tend to exist mainly in Water and Fire type hands.
Water hands – sometimes called psychic hands – are the very elegant hands used in jewellery, hand cream or nail varnish advertising. People with these hands sometimes have an etherial quality and may need to work on grounding their energy.
Fire hands have long palms + shorter fingers. Owners of fire hands have a more dynamic energy than water type hands, but they are similarly sensitive.
People with very few deep lines are also deeply affected by the world around them, but tend to have more physical resilience, i.e. they don’t get drained.
Protect your energy every day
• Are you like a sponge that soaks up the emotions of people around you?
• Do you live or work in an environment with bad vibes?
• Do your feel physically tired or overwhelmed for no apparent reason?
Protecting + cleansing your energy is a form of self-care for sensitive empaths.
See the video below for more information on cleansing.
Disclaimer: None of the information on this blog is intended for diagnosis, prescription or to replace medical advice or treatment.
Pros & Cons of being highly sensitive
Some of the benefits and drawbacks of being very sensitive are:
- Ability to know ‘what’s going on’ with people at a deeper level
- Able to pre-empt situations, or see things coming
- Seeing quickly when feelings don’t match words, i.e. spotting incongruence and insincerity
- Not wanting to cause pain or suffering: feeling another’s pain
- Emotionally responsive
- Thoughtful + supportive, due to being attuned to people’s inner needs – a great friend to have!
- Weaker constitution, i.e. prone to tiredness, picking up viruses, etc.
- Body strongly affected by what is digested: caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, pain killers, etc.
- Anxiety prone due to over-sensing, over-stimulation + not being grounded.
- Ungrounded – your aura / energy is not fully in your physical body. You may crave sweet food or stodge as an attempt to come back down to earth. Grounding is a form of self-care for highly sensitive empaths.
- Over-reacting – When you assume that everyone is as conscientious, considerate and sensitive as you, if someone is rude or angry you’re likely to blame yourself, instead considering they’re having a bad day.
- Over-accommodating – As an empath you are frequently out of touch with your own emotional needs, but very in touch with other people’s.
- Poor boundaries – You get drawn in to other people’s problems and take too much responsibility for others’ behaviour.
- People pleasing – You can literally feel when someone is disappointed or angry with you, so you avoid conflict.
- You need a surprising amount of downtime, rest + sleep. This is a form of self-care for highly sensitive empaths.
- Time alone is much needed by sensitive introverts. You have to learn to cherish your own company without feeling lonely.
Highly sensitive problems
The HSP problems are not visible, therefore they may seem unreal.
Yet, these everyday issues can have a huge impact if you are a HSP:
You are surrounded by stressed-out people: at home, at work or on public transport.
Office politics: negative atmosphere, competing co-workers, back-stabbing, power-plays…
Sick building syndrome: bright lights, open plan offices, constant noise or distractions, poor ventilation.
Having to be in the company of moody people: flatmates, family or workmates who give you their negative vibes.
Hyper-vigilance: Hyper vigilance is an enhanced state of sensory sensitivity where the adrenal glands starting pumping cortisol around your body to prepare you to fight or flight from a perceived enemy.
It’s a very unhealthy emotional state to live in and is very harmful to the body. You need to find a way to self-soothe to regulate your emotions and mind.
Hyper-vigilance may develop during a deadline driven job with a lot of responsibility, after negative experiences, or even as a result of a bad caffeine habit. Stimulants cause your anxiety levels to rise.
Psychic attack. This is not actually as ominous as it sounds. Psychic attack may occur unintentionally. If, for instance, you accidentally offend someone + they harbour bad thoughts about you. You sense these unexpressed feelings as headaches, back or neck pain or heightened anxiety.
Self care for highly sensitive empaths will help with any + all of these issues.
Article copyright Amy Garner 2021. See my Copyright Notice and Disclaimer.
Self-care for highly sensitive empaths + introverts
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HSP + Empath Self-Care
10 steps to peace + power for empathic HSPs + my weekly Good Vibes – unsubscribe anytime!