The Health Effects of Being an Empath
Researchers at McGill University’s McGill Centre for Research found in a 2008 study that people with high empathy scores felt stronger physical pain sensations when exposed to others experiencing uncomfortable stimuli. The results suggest that in addition to feeling the emotions of others, empaths also acutely feel the physical pain of others. Dr. Judith Orloff, the author of The Empath’s Survival Guide, points out that empaths feel people’s emotions before they think about them, which is the opposite of most individuals.
By some estimates, 20 percent of adults are highly sensitive, and a significant proportion of these people are empaths. However, the official guide to psychiatric disorders, the DSM-5, does not have an empath diagnosis. Instead, it is commonly misdiagnosed as social anxiety.
Greater creativity, intuition, compassion, and a deeper connection are all benefits to being an empath. However, there are also several negative physical health consequences, including absorbing negativity and stress from others as well as becoming easily overstimulated, exhausted, and overwhelmed. This leaves empaths vulnerable to emotional burnout, depression, addiction (to drugs, sex, shopping, food, etc.), and anxiety.
How to Minimize the Health Effects
You must avoid excessively absorbing others’ negative energy and stress if you want to protect your emotional and physical well-being. Here are a few strategies to help you with this:
Take Some Time Alone
To center and regroup yourself, spend some time alone. This might include meditating, sitting quietly, listening to soothing music, taking a bath, or breathing deeply and slowly. It's essentially taking time for yourself only.
Keep conversations to a minimum with someone who is draining your emotional reserve or energy or spend less time with them. You must protect your energy so you do not give until you are worn out.
Know Where Your Emotions Are Coming From
Ask whether a new feeling is yours or belongs to a companion when you feel the onset of emotional overload or a shift in mood. This will help you avoid absorbing the feelings from other people and learn to recognize your own feelings.
Clear negativity by getting out into a clean, green, fresh environment. Here, you can replenish your energy and shed other’s pain. A good walk will always clear your mind and help you focus on what matters for you, rather than what others might be feeling.
The above tips and strategies will help you better understand your own feelings, while getting away from giving undue attention to what other might be feeling. While it's important to understand what others might feel and even empathize with their problems, you must first understand and look after yourself. By knowing how being an empath affects your health, you can then help others more competently.
Site last updated: 17. February 2018
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