Written by Jenny Holt, Freelance Health Writer
Being called an “empath” is not an insult. Too often, people think of their gift of being a highly-sensitive individual as a curse rather than a strength. Below, we will look at how being an empath makes you perfectly suited to being a carer, and what you can do to ensure the positive aspects of being an empath outweigh the negative.
What Sets You Apart as an Empath
When you first hear the term “empath,” you might get a negative impression, as you would with the other “-path” labels: sociopath, psychopath, etc. Many people may think of a someone ‘who just needs to grow thicker skin’, ‘stop being so selfless’, and ‘stop being so darn sensitive’. However, as we grow as a society to understand that people’s feelings and emotions are important, the empath label can, and should, be worn like a badge of honour.
Empaths have the ability to sense unspoken feelings and the needs of others. For instance, they often have total strangers telling them deep secrets because they tend to be great listeners. On a subconscious level, others know that you will understand them.
All of these abilities point to why you are a natural carer, and why you are so good at it. Frequently, you are caring for someone who is not able to effectively communicate their troubles. You must intuit what is wrong. This makes you an excellent carer, but it can also be overwhelming at times. Fortunately, you are not alone, and there are steps you can take to care for yourself.
How to Flourish as a Carer
When you are hyper-attuned to others’ moods, it can be hard spending time with people who are suffering. Here are a few steps you can take to protect yourself as a carer:
- Try to Sneak away to Meditate– Before you begin your day, be sure to meditate to centre yourself, feel your heart, and connect to your spirit. Meditate for a few minutes at your first convenient opportunity if you encounter physical or emotional distress while working. You can do this by ducking into an empty room or a restroom. Close and lock the door if you are in a public area. Focus on love and positivity. You might also get started using a meditation app to guide you.
- Visualise Yourself Surrounded by Protection– A number of studies have found evidence of the healing abilities of visualisation. Visualising an envelope of white light around your body is one practical form of protection that many empaths use. In fact, health care providers often recommend this to patients. If one of the people you are caring for is particularly challenging, visualise a something strong such as a fierce panther protecting and patrolling your energy shield.
- Let Your Breathing Take over– Concentrate on your breath for a couple of minutes when you think you are picking up someone else’s energies. This connects you to your power and helps to centre you. On the other hand, negativity stays lodged in your body when you hold your breath in. Inhale calm and exhale stress to purify pain and fear. Picture wellness as a clear light entering your body and unwholesome emotions as a grey fog lifting from it.
- Figure out Your Empathic Needs– Your sensitivities should be safeguarded. List off your five most emotionally jolting situations when you have a calm, collected moment. To avoid fumbling in these situations, formulate a plan on how you will handle trying moments. For example, you can politely say “no” when someone asks too much of you. You do not need to give any further explanation. After all, “no” is a complete sentence.
- Set Healthy Boundaries and Limits– As a carer, it can be hard to walk away from people who are stressful, especially when it is someone you love. If a family member or someone you are caring for starts to get mean or critical, you must learn to nicely but curtly cut them off and set clear boundaries and limits on what you will listen to. Have a few topics ready in the back of your mind that you can use to pivot the conversation to something more pleasant.
- Distance Yourself– At the first opportunity, distance yourself from your stressor. If you cannot pull away immediately, soothe your mind with the thought of being away from the situation soon. Do not worry about offending people. If you are going to be any good for the people you are caring for, you must first care for yourself.
- Take Time to Decompress– If you find yourself absorbing negative or stressful energy, take some time at the end of the day to decompress. After an especially rough day, a long bath can soothe you. It washes away everything, including the harmful energies you have taken on from others. You might also consider going for a short hike in the woods or walk through a park.