Survival Guide For Highly Sensitive People – How To Thrive As An Empath
April 29, 2020
Learn how to finally thrive as an empath by discovering all my beautiful rituals, tips and strategies!
As a highly sensitive person, I always struggled with sensory overload, chronic exhaustion, anxiety, and migraines. I get overwhelmed so easily, that I often want to curl up and hide, where nobody can find me.
Learning more about my empathic abilities and getting to know myself better, has been a real game-changer for me. I developed and adapted amazing rituals that truly help me – not only to reduce or even eliminate the “negative side effects” of being a highly sensitive person but also to finally thrive as an empath too.
In this article, I share everything I learned so far, including the strategies and rituals I implement every day. If you are highly sensitive and you feel the urge to finally thrive as the empath you are, they might be very helpful for you as well and I deeply hope, that my suggestions will make your life easier, more relaxed and balanced too!
Before we start, let’s dive in and discuss some basics about being an empath.
What is an Empath / a Highly Sensitive Person?
To find out what an Empath / Highly Sensitive Person is and whether you are one of them, I’d highly recommend reading my previous article first. There, I cover everything you need to know about this topic.
This is what you have been waiting for: All of the following tips and strategies are based on my experience as an empath/a highly sensitive person. Let me know if you find them helpful by liking this post, writing a comment, and sharing your own experience or by saving the graphics on Pinterest. Thank you!
1. Dig deep and find your triggers
First things first: You need to know your triggers in order to eliminate them. So how do you do that?
Some triggers are extremely obvious, like for example crowds. For me, being in a crowd definitely is a trigger for me. In other words, I get easily overwhelmed, exhausted, stressed, and anxious when I’m in a crowd. So I try to avoid crowded places as much as possible.
There are a few other common triggers for highly sensitive people, like rushing, arguing, loud sounds, low blood sugar, chemical sensitivities, or too much socializing.
However, there might also be more subtle things or situations that trigger you as well. Here are some questions that helped me to identify mine:
Which activities did exhaust me the most in the last few weeks?
Do you remember situations that made you feel overwhelmed?
What sort of activities did you do before you got a headache/migraine last time?
Once you identified your triggers, t’s time to think about how you can handle them in the future. Because certainly, we cannot always avoid every triggering situation. And this is where all the strategies below come in handy.
Learning how to say no is so hard, I know. If you are a people pleaser, and I certainly have been one as well, you need to stop putting others first asap! Because being a good person with a kind heart doesn’t mean you have to say yes all the time.
Here are six principles that help me to maintain my boundaries:
Always take care of yourself first.
Don’t let other people guilt or manipulate you into doing things you are not comfortable with.
Stand up for yourself and voice your opinions with confidence.
Don’t hold yourself responsible for the things you can’t control.
Communicate openly and assertively, if needed.
Don’t let your happiness depend on other people.
In order to thrive as an empath, you need to set boundaries. So how do you do that?
In the chapter before, we talked about triggers and how to identify them. So by now, you probably know what your triggers are. This means you can now set boundaries around your triggers. Because you obviously want to prevent yourself from triggering situations, you have to define exactly where your boundaries are.
Example on how to set boundaries
So let’s say, for example, one of your triggers is socializing too much or for too long. Make sure you reflect on past experiences with this specific trigger to find out where exactly you’ll need to set a boundary for future events. In other words, try to find out for how long you can socialize without feeling overwhelmed. Clearly, this can vary and highly depends on many factors, like your general mood, energy level, other people, etc.
However, I had the experience that setting a time limit for myself whenever I interact with people, makes me check in with myself more frequently and also more aware of how I feel at the moment. This means, even if I pass over my time limit once in a while, it’s a decision I make intentionally because I genuinely want to extend my visit. And not because I forgot about my needs.
How I handle social events
In general, I handle social events like parties with friends or family gatherings as follows:
If I’m not feeling well before the event, I’ll try to postpone the event or cancel it.
I frequently check in with myself and listen to my inner voice. How am I feeling right now? Do I need a break? Can I stay for a little longer or is it better to leave early?
If I need a break I’ll go to the bathroom or somewhere quiet for a little while.
Time limit: I usually try to stay for about two hours, depending on the event.
As soon as I feel tired or overwhelmed, I leave. However, the real skill is to leave even before this happens. This requires some experience.
After, I rest. I try to avoid scheduling two events in one day.
Try to find your own strategies and set boundaries for every trigger you identified.
If you feel guilty about setting boundaries or are scared of implementing them, you can use these affirmations to internalize the truth and ditch your fear and limiting beliefs once and for all.
You can incorporate them into your morning or night time routine to really take them in, embody them, and make them your reality.
Saying no is a healthy way to set boundaries.
I don’t have to explain myself.
I don’t need to feel guilty about my boundaries.
I don’t have to say yes if I want to say no.
Ways to say no
In case you are still a bit insecure about saying no, here are some ideas on how you can be assertive and polite at the same time:
”Thanks for thinking of me, but I’m going to pass.”
”That won’t work for me.”
”No thank you.”
”I can’t do that right now.”
”My plate is full at the moment.”
”Please ask me again another time because this time won’t work.”
”That doesn’t interest me, but I appreciate the offer.”
3. Energy Exercises
If you feel overwhelmed and exhausted, make sure to give yourself a break. Whether you take a nap, meditate, go for a walk in nature or listen to relaxing music depends on what you need at this exact moment.
However, there are a few practices and rituals I established over time, that really help me to calm down and ground myself and I’m so happy to share them with you.
3.1 Water: washing negative energy away
Taking a shower will help you to get rid of any negative energy. You can even imagine a beautiful white light coming out of the shower with the water and picture this white light – this cleansing energy – to wash all the negative energy away.
3.2 Establishing a border between yourself and the emotions you’re picking up on
Collective energy and other people’s energy/emotions can affect you as a highly sensitive person and this can be very overwhelming. If you are not sure whether an emotion is your own or someone else’s, you can easily find out by asking yourself why you feel a certain way. This means, if you can’t figure out why and there’s simply no explanation for this feeling, it’s most likely collective energy.
When you feel like you’re picking up on someone’s emotions, try to step out of your body for a moment, and imagine watching this external emotion rushing through your body and eventually go away. Don’t try to resist it. Feel it and let it be there for a while and it will simply just pass through you and vanish.
Knowing that this is not your emotion will help you to protect your energy and it will become a lot easier to deal with.
3.3 The Grounding Cord Exercise
Imagine a cord attached to your tailbone – it can be made of of anything you want – going all the way down to the earth. Send all your negative energy to your grounding cord and let it go through until the earth absorbs it and neutralizes it. You can give the energy a color to make your imagination even stronger. Do this for about five minutes and it will make you feel better.
3.4 The Grounding Bubble Exercise
Make yourself comfortable, sit down, and imagine tree roots coming from your feet into the earth. Envision earth energy coming through these roots up your feet, legs, and settling in your tummy area. Then imagine universal energy coming from above, through your head, your chest, and meeting the earth’s energy in your tummy. Let them combine and mix together until you are ready to send this merged energy up to your head, out of your head and moving it all over you like a waterfall of graceful earth and universal energy until you are completely surrounded by it like you were in a bubble of beautiful energy. Feel it an take your time to really welcome this energy around you.
And when you are ready, imagine a vortex hovering towards you and sucking all the energy you don’t want out of you and absorbing it. All the draining, exhausting, negative energy will be removed from you by the vortex’s energy and the vortex will move away.
You can do this as a meditation every day, or when you feel like you need it. If you’d like, you can lit a candle and put on some relaxing music as well. If you have any crystals, you can use this energy exercise to charge them with earth- and universal energy and bring them wherever you go holding this empowering energy within them.
Go for a walk in nature. To really connect with the earth, the best possible thing you could do is to feel the earth with your bare feet. You can also lay down in the grass of your backyard or if possible by the sea. Watch the clouds listening to the waves or the birds while feeling the sunlight or the wind on your body. Focus on those calming sensations for a while. This is pure medicine.
If you’re not able to go outside, open a window, or listen to nature sounds on Spotify.
5. Creating a sanctuary
Sometimes, it’s inevitable to withdraw for a while and stay at home. However, if you really need to relax and recover, you require to have access to a safe and calm environment.
To make your home as soothing as possible, you can create your own sanctuary by incorporating textures, colors, and items you feel drawn to. This can be a comfortable chair with a cozy blanket, surrounded by plants, candles, and crystals. But it can also look completely different.
If you don’t have space where you feel safe and calm, I highly recommend creating one. This can a small corner in the living room, an entire room, or even the entire apartment/house you live in. Start with a small space and once you have a dedicated area for you to come to, you can always expand and make your entire home a sanctuary.