Self Care for Empaths & HSP’s

Being sensitive both physiologically and emotionally can be draining if you do not create a good self-care routine. I am a social butterfly but I relish the sacred quietness of my home. It is my refuge after a busy day.

There are so many tools available today that can help you navigate the challenges of everyday life. First and foremost determine the level of self-care that you need. If you have unprocessed trauma, it would be a good idea to try somatic therapies so you can move past being in a “fight or flight” state. Being in a constant state of anxiety can drain your adrenals and create cortisol in the body which can lead to illness and/or disease in the body. Empaths and HSP’s tend to have autoimmune issues. Some common ailments that you might be susceptible to: chronic fatigue syndrome, adrenal fatigue, Epstein Barr Syndrome, Hashimoto Disease, Graves Disease, fibromyalgia, Celiac Disease, lupus, MS, allergies, rosacea, ezcema, ulcers and arthritis. This is not an extensive list but it gives you an idea of how the body can react to stress and sensitivity.

Here are a few common types of therapies that can help you to calm your system – both physically and emotionally:

  • EMDR (Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) – a psychotherapy treatment that can help remove unprocessed trauma.
  • EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) – used by therapists and certified practitioners to clear negative energies from body meridians by tapping. It is great for quitting a bad habit, clearing negativity, anxiety and stress.
  • CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) – used by counselors and practitioners to reframe negative thought processes.
  • NLP (Neural Linguistic Programming) – reframe negative thinking and anchor better thoughts

The somatic therapies mentioned above can also be useful for anyone who has the desire to break negative patterns in their life.

The next step is to make your home and surroundings as comfortable as possible. As a Highly Sensitive Person, you have to create a safe space to retreat to when you get overwhelmed by the outward stimuli. Know what triggers your body so that you can minimize the discomfort that comes from being over stimulated. If you are not completely aware of what you are sensitive to, take the time to check in with your body to see how something makes you feel. I have a sensitivity to chemicals on my skin. I choose products that are as natural as possible with the least amount of ingredients. Here is a basic list of environmental triggers:

  • Sight – bright lights, flashing or strobe lights, certain colors, florescent lighting
  • Smell – candles, perfumes, flowers/plants, chemical cleaners, personal care products, air pollution, foods
  • Touch – textured clothing, extreme heat or cold, slimy/oily skin products, clothing that does not allow the body to breathe, barometric pressure changes
  • Hearing – loud noises, negative or fear based music, room full of people talking, the sound of electricity, water dripping, tinnitus, layered audio input
  • Taste and the consumption of food and beverages – textured foods, food flavors, food coloring, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, preservatives, gluten, artificial foods

You cannot avoid everything but limiting the stimuli around you can limit your stress levels.

Through my own journey, what I have learned is that I need time to unwind in a space that is peaceful and calm. One of my favorite things to do is play healing frequency music while I meditate, journal, or rest. You can find healing Soffegio music on Youtube in various frequencies. One of my favorite channels is from Meditative Mind. You can find them by clicking on hyperlink https://youtu.be/goyZbut_KFY

Here is a list of self care things that have worked for me:

  • Journal – write down your feelings or create a doodle/art journal so you can creatively express how you feel
  • Listen to calming music
  • Meditate/Pray
  • Move your body – yoga, Tai Chi, hula hoop, dance, go for a walk, swim, roller skate, skateboard, golf
  • Watch cute animal/baby videos
  • Read a book that inspires you
  • Light a candle (unscented if you are sensitive to fragrances)
  • Power nap
  • Sleep with a weighted blanket
  • Listen to a positive podcast
  • Skip the news and be discerning about TV shows that you watch
  • Spend time with a pet
  • Shield yourself from other’s negative energy (This can be done through visualization. My favorite is to imagine I am standing in an eggshell that is translucent with a reflective mirror on the outside. I imagine that all negativity does not penetrate my shell but goes back to where it came from.)
  • Take vitamins and supplements that support your body (Always check with your Doctor before beginning new supplements)
  • Get a massage or acupuncture
  • Ground your energy daily. To learn more about grounding, click here: https://www.healthline.com/health/grounding
  • Spend time in nature and/or water
  • Set healthy boundaries with people. Respect your time and learn how to say no to people: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044494

I hope that this blog is helpful to my fellow sensitives and empaths. If you have a self care ritual or sensitivity that I didn’t mention, I’d love to hear from you!

I am not a licensed health care professional and this blog is only intended to give you a first hand experience point of view.

Empath vs. Highly Sensitive Person

A few weeks back I blogged about the traits of an empath. Being an empath can be nurtured or inherited genetically. Unfortunately some people become empaths as a way of surviving childhood trauma. I liken it to developing a super power as a child. Having the skill to check the emotional temperature in a room can protect a child from walking into a potentially violent situation.

Empaths can also be Highly Sensitive People (HSP’s) but they do not necessarily go hand in hand. HSP is a biological personality trait. Roughly, 20% of the population is HSP. They are often described as introverts but they can be an extroverted.

HSP’s have sensory sensitivities. They can be sensitive to any and/or all environmental stimuli. They can get overwhelmed and require quiet time to recharge after a day of life interactions. If you are HSP and empathic, everyday life can be challenging to process.

Imagine walking into a room full of people and you hear chatter in your head and begin to feel nauseous. You feel the person next to you is very sad. You feel the depth of their despair and it makes you sad. You begin to feel tired. The lights are so bright in the room that you have to squint to see. The lighting is hurting your eyes. The cologne from the guy standing 10 feet away is assaulting your olfactory senses and burning your nose. You feel a headache coming on from the smell. Someone across the room is smiling and chatting yet you know that they are depressed. Their heart is hurting. Your heart begins to literally ache. The music is so loud you cannot focus. The words in the song and the voice feel very negative and your mood drops lower. You begin to feel hungry and find your way to the food bar but all they are serving is gumbo and you hate slimy okra. You begin to get angry because you are hungry and need to eat soon. All your senses are on fire and the room begins to close in on you. You feel like you cannot breathe and you are overwhelmed both physically and emotionally. This is a typical scenario for the empath who also happens to be highly sensitive. Life can be overwhelming by simply going to the grocery store or anywhere where there are big crowds. Sensory overload happens and you retreat to a quiet place.

Are you Highly Sensitive? If you can relate to most of these, then you are more than likely HSP.

If you:

  • Need plenty of time alone.
  • Are sensitive to smells – both fragrant and pungent. Candle scents, perfumes and air fresheners can give you a headache, burning eyes or other physical symptoms.
  • Are sensitive to lighting – you might get a headache or have to squint in certain lighting. Flashing lights and strobe lighting can be uncomfortable and even trigger a migraine. (Last year I changed out our Christmas tree lights to LED. I became sensitive to the flashing LED lights and it brought on a migraine.)
  • Are sensitive to sounds – loud music, large noisy crowds. You may be prone to tinnitus. You might be able to hear sounds that others cannot such as electric buzzing and water dripping in another room.
  • Are picky about how clothing feels on your skin. Some textures do not feel good against your skin. As a child, you might have refused to wear certain clothing even though you liked the pattern or design.
  • Are picky about the texture of certain foods. You may refuse to eat certain foods because they feel slimy or gross in your mouth.
  • You are sensitive to stimulants. Caffeine can put you over the edge. You have a low threshold with alcohol.
  • Were shy as a child and kept to yourself. (I had friends but spent a lot of time in my room creating my own imaginary world).
  • Have a great imagination and inner world. You can be very creative.
  • You are sensitive to chemicals. You can develop a sensitivity to products you use on your body. (I have to use fragrance and dye free products. I’m sensitive to pest control chemicals so I use essential oils in my home to control insects.)
  • Get easily overwhelmed in crowded places.
  • Feel a heightened sense of pain. You may have a low pain threshold.
  • Get “hangry” easily. You tend to be hyperglycemic and have to eat when you are hungry.
  • Sense the barometric pressure and can feel it in your body. (I tend to get migraines with barometric pressure changes).
  • Notice details that others do not. You are very perceptive and pick up on nuances.
  • Cry easily. Whether happy or sad, you feel it very deeply.
  • Think about the deeper meaning in life.
  • Become deeply attached to those that you are romantically involved with.
  • Have a hard time letting go of circumstances. Change is very challenging.
  • Avoid crowded places or plan ahead so you avoid a crowd.
  • Need more sleep than others.
  • Seek meaning in romantic relationships.
  • May have an autoimmune disease. You might even have several autoimmune diseases. (I’ve had Grave’s Disease, lupus, rosacea, allergies and fibromyalgia along with general arthritis)

This is not a complete list of HSP traits but if you can identify with most of these, you are more than likely an HSP. If you are both an empath and HSP, there are ways you can offset the unavoidable situations in life. It is important to do radical self care. HSP and being an empath can seem like a curse at times but the world needs us, especially right now. Do not be afraid to be the rare unicorn that you are! On my next blog, I’ll dive into tools that can help you to do self care and utilize your senstivities in a positive way.

My Heart is broken open

Sitting in my office, I am reflecting on the journey my life has taken the last 14 years. It is much easier to share the highlights and hide the struggles and hard times. Yet that is where the richest part of life comes from….the brokenness and the pain that causes a person to grow and expand in ways they never imagined. No one is exempt from trials, tribulations and heartache. It is just not shared so openly.

I never imagined myself to be married twice let alone on my way to a second divorce. I was in it for the long haul. That’s where I got sidetracked folks. Trying so hard to make something work that had naturally run its course. I found myself swimming upstream and I was exhausted. Finally I threw my hands in the air and asked for some spiritual guidance. What came out of that conversation is that I did not support myself or have my own back. Let me repeat that loud and clear…I DID NOT HAVE MY OWN BACK.

My journey to being authentic was just beginning and might I add, it is not a destination…it is a journey. I’ve always been a person to be supportive of other people, but not myself. The realization hit me hard and stopped me in my tracks. I took a good look at my life and decided to make some changes. The Marie Kondo for the Soul began to help me clear out the baggage in my heart so I could clear up my life. Being real and speaking my truth has taken me out of my comfort zone. I’m living on the edge each and every day. It’s a beautiful place to be as I see my new chapter begin to take shape.

Divorce is not my finest hour in life but it is necessary for me. I am always going to love the man I chose to marry. We share beautiful children that we raised together. There were great times, good time and sad times. There is no right or wrong. It just is. I am grateful for our time together. We helped each other to grow and expand as human beings. Coming full circle, that journey into marriage led me to where I am right now…with the courage to have my heart broken open.

You might be an empath if

What is an empath and how do you know if you are one? Some people wear like it like a banner and others are ashamed to admit that they are because there is a vulnerability that can misconstrued as weakness. Sometimes it is a weakness. It depends on the individual and where they are in their journey.

My journey as an empath began at a very young age. I was an emotional sponge and I still am if I’m not careful. Friends, if you read this blog and relate to the traits I describe below, be sure to do your own self care. The world needs us right now AND they need us healthy.

If you have most of these traits, consider yourself an empath:

  • Emotional sponge – you take on other people’s feelings. Most of the time you don’t realize what you are doing and wonder why you are having such random feelings. They are not yours!
  • Being in large crowds exhausts you – the energy of people in masses can be exhausting. You might pick up physical symptoms of those around you. Be sure you check in with your body often and ask if it is your symptom or that of someone else.
  • People in stores mistake you for an employee and begin to ask you questions.
  • Strangers tell you their life story. It’s a common occurrence in your life because they sense that you are a caring person who listens and takes their story to heart.
  • You cry easily or are touched by simple things in life. It could be a silly commercial with cute animals or someone singing a patriotic song. Some empaths have a fear of expressing their emotions so they don’t cry but end up with knots in their throat from not expressing their emotions. Not expressing emotions can lead to physical discomfort in the body such as anxiety.
  • You attract narcissistic people into your life. Narcissists can spot an empath a mile away.
  • People take advantage of your kind and generous nature. You might end up an angry and/or a resentful person because you feel taken advantage of a lot.
  • You have weak personal boundaries with people.
  • You seem to know a person’s story before you get to know them. Most empaths are very intuitive.
  • You have a tendency to have autoimmune diseases. Some empaths have multiple autoimmune diseases.
  • If you are tuned in, you can feel your emotions and locate where they are in your body.
  • You are clairvoyant, clairsentient, and/or clairaudient.
  • Your body is very sensitive to the touch.
  • You are a kind and thoughtful person that usually goes the extra mile with people.
  • You are trustworthy.
  • You say yes to too much and have trouble saying no. You overwork, overcommit and sometimes disappoint people.
  • People value your opinions.
  • You can be a social chameleon, changing as you see fit.

Being an empath can be both an amazing experience and a curse. It depends on how you develop as a person. The most important take away I have is that setting personal boundaries should be your first priority when you realize that you are an empath. Realize that you are enough and you don’t have to give up who you are to please someone else. Set boundaries with family and friends and all that cross your path. It is not easy to do. Start small by saying no to things that don’t matter too much to you. For instance, say no to volunteering for something that will cost you precious time that you don’t have to spare. Begin considering yourself first before you commit to anyone or anything. This is not being selfish. If you don’t take care of yourself, you cannot help anyone else. I liken this advice to the instructions that flight attendants give when you are on a plane. In order to help your children or anyone around you on the plane, you must first put your own oxygen mask on. Self care is important.

If you have an experience you would like to share, I’d love to hear from you.

I would like to add a very important detail that some of you can relate to – addictions. Empaths are prone to addictions of all sorts. The sensitivity can be overwhelming at times so we develop addictions to dull the senses or distract us from dealing with our feelings. It is so important to honor your journey if you are in the midst of an addiction. Get real with yourself and be gentle and loving. Forgive yourself and forgive others. That is the path to healing.

Finding My Warrior Princess

Eleven years ago I made a conscious decision to volunteer with an organization that advocates for children. I went through the extensive training and background check and was ready for my first case. She came to me as soon as I graduated the program. She had trust issues and I was her second advocate. Already at a disadvantage, I decided that I would dedicate time on a weekly basis to build her trust. She needed me and I needed her to trust me in order to be her voice.

When I began this journey with my Warrior Princess, my hope was that we would be able to reunite her with her family. I was told that it could take up to a year and to be prepared to attend all meetings and appointments on her behalf. I was ready and excited to be of service. I did not realize how deeply involved I would become with my Warrior Princess.

My Warrior Princess was 15 at the time we met. I could see so much potential in her but it would be years before she saw that potential in herself. Every week I would pick her up and spend a couple of hours with her. She began to see that I really cared. We worked on an end goal of her being able to go home. Unfortunately that didn’t happen for her. I crossed the line of being an advocate and developed more a family bond with her. I loved her like my own children and felt more like mama bear versus advocate. What she went through in her young life broke my heart. I could relate to some of her trials and tribulations as I had experienced them too.

At 18, she graduated school and was given a little money and she moved away. The grown ups involved in her life hoped that the years of counseling she received would help her as she embarked on her life as an adult. My biggest wish for her was that she could break free from the emotional oppression that she had felt as child. But again her life took some twists and turns. She became a young mother and the patterns continued. We stayed in touch throughout the years and I held a hope in my heart that she would one day realize who she is.

That day has come. My Warrior Princess is a little weathered from her trials. She has walked through fire and she has been burned more than a few times. Yet it has removed the shell of a person that has held her back. Her new skin is shiny and bright. She’s still getting used to the look. But she is beautiful inside and out.

She called me the other day to let me know that she heard me all those years and she knows on a deep level that she is worthy of all the good things life has to offer. I believe her. I shared that I myself am going through the fire, shedding my old skin to prepare for a new life. We are mirroring that for each other. She is a strong and resilient spirit and I know that she is here to make a difference. Her walk has not been easy but so worth it. I look forward to seeing her create her best life.

My Warrior Princess is an inspiration to me and I love her with all my heart. She is like a daughter. I will always be her biggest fan.

My Warrior Princess is a beautiful flower.

Mother’s Day

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. Flowers will be purchased, gift baskets will be delivered and restaurants will be filled with families who will celebrate the women in their life. Social media will be lit up with posts of happy mothers showing off their gifts. Not everyone will be celebrating.

What is a mother? To me, it is not a woman who simply gives birth. It is the woman who takes the time to love and nurture a child to adulthood. She opens her arms without the expectation of anything in return. If you have experienced this kind of love, whether from a biological or adopted mother, be thankful.

If you are a child or adult mourning the loss of your mother, know that you are not alone. Treasure the memories and do something to honor her life.

If you are a mother mourning the loss of your child, may you feel the love of family and friends as you process your grief. No one will understand your grief like a mother who has walked your journey. Be gentle with yourself during this tender time.

If you are a woman who longs to be a mother and you are fighting depression every time this day rolls around, know that there are other women who walk in your shoes. You are enough. Keep your heart open to the gentle nudges of your heart.

If you are a child or adult who has not known the security of having a mother, may you find a wise woman in your life that will offer you nurturing. There are so many widows in the world and elderly in nursing homes that would jump at the chance to have time with another human being.

If you are a mother-to-be, enjoy each breath you take as you give your baby life. Every moment is precious.

Mothering can come from a nurturing father, mentor, or foster family. It can come from a teacher, grandma, aunt, neighbor or even an older sibling. My hat is off to every human who shows up to nurture a child.

Wherever you find yourself on Mother’s day, may you know that your journey is uniquely your own and it is okay to celebrate, laugh, cry, honor or mourn.

With the deepest love ♥

10 reasons why I’m grateful for my Warehouse job

If someone would have told me a year ago that I would be working at Amazon as a warehouse worker at the age of 52, I would have laughed (although the thought of moving my body and giving my mind a rest would have been enticing).

In October of 2019, I quit the mortgage industry after 14 years. It was time for a change. I do not miss being on call 7 days a week and I do not miss the stress level and long hours at a computer/on a phone. When I initially began working at Amazon, I was just happy to have a job. It’s been a month and I have had time to reflect on what I’ve learned and surprisingly this job has been a perfect match for me right now.

With a grateful heart, I would like to share 10 observations about my new employment and what it has taught me:

  1. I’ve accepted my near OCD nature to organize things. I get to stack and put boxes in order all day long. It is oddly satisfying and therapeutic.
  2. Working on a conveyor belt line keeps me focused and in the present moment. My mind does not wander. If it did, I would not be able to do my job efficiently or safely. Who would have thought it could help me in my meditation practice?
  3. I’ve learned that you have to prioritize your workflow and come back around to the things that can wait. Life in general is the same. Some things require immediate attention while others can wait for another day or time.
  4. I am getting paid to get into shape! No gym membership needed. I typically walk 7-9 miles a day at work. If you are familiar with Apple watches, I complete my circles daily. In this particular time in my life, having the confidence to do a physically demanding job has shown me I can achieve what I set my mind to do.
  5. Meeting people from different cultures has expanded my mind. Amazon is a very diverse work place. I have struck up conversations with people that grew up very differently from me. Learning another person’s perspective in life can be enlightening.
  6. I am thankful to have been offered a full time position and benefits in this time of uncertainty. Due to the Covid circumstances, new employees have been extended benefits that would usually take months to get. Just when I was at my wits end trying to find a job, this one came out of the blue. An answer to my prayers.
  7. I actually look forward to going to work. I look forward to saying hello to my new found friends and getting a great workout each day. It is a wonderful feeling to know someone’s name and acknowledge them in the morning and to be acknowledged.
  8. Teamwork is a must in a warehouse. Each person counts and all jobs are important. My co-workers are happy to jump in if I struggle with lifting something too heavy. Likewise, it brings me great joy to help others.
  9. I have been able to satisfy my need to be a social butterfly at work. Essential workers have to work. Social butterflies have to be social.
  10. A new perspective. Working at Amazon has given me the opportunity to see life from a different perspective. Any time there is new perspective, there is growth.

Let it play out

I’ve been in a holding pattern for months. I want to make some shit happen. Why? Because being still, patient, has never been my best attribute. I sound like a 5 year old throwing a tantrum, and that would not be entirely untrue. Life is happening right in front of me without me controlling the situation. My inner child is stomping her feet and having a full on tantrum right now.

There are answers for my dilemma but they are not what I planned so I’ve cast them aside in favor of my own ideas. So the real struggle here is not where I am physically but where I am in my mind. Letting go of the need to control every aspect of my life. I’m sure the Universe is having a hey day trying to persuade me to listen to the gentle, still voice of reason. I acknowledge my shortcomings and really want to embrace the gentler way of being. It’s scary and unknown. What if I fall flat on my face? But then I think where I am now and is it not a worse place to be? The anxiety and depression I have caused myself has created physical symptoms of stress.

As I contemplate a new way of being, I realize that I’m open to it only because “making shit happen” has failed me. Admitting that publicly creates a lump in my throat. It’s not an easy lesson. I hope that I fully embrace it. It may take a while. I’m a work in progress.

Today I will live in the moment and be thankful for all that I have in my life. I have a place to live, friends and family that love me and a life that is waiting to unfold.

Mom said it best the other day…

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