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How Being an Empath Affects Your Health
and What You Can Do about It

Tips for dealing with effects of being empathic or being an empath

Do you often find yourself listening to, advising, and comforting friends and family? Is your shoulder permanently wet from offering it up as a place for others to cry on? As an empath, you give so much of yourself that it can often leave you feeling drained. Unfortunately, this has negative effects on your physical health.

There's a difference between being an empath and being empathic. When you are empathic, you relate to other people's feelings. While being an empath involves being more classed as a highly sensitive person. But this article doesn't concern itself with the differences between the two, which are often blurred. It simply deals with the effects of empathy on your health, to whichever category you might belong.

Being one with nature
Whether you are being an empath or have feelings of empathy towards others, it will affect your health and you need to know how to deal with it.  (Photo by Filippo Cozzini on Unsplash)

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.

Set Boundaries

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.

Enjoy Nature

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.

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