Recently my brother called me from the road to say he was on his way to a concert at a huge arena and he had an extra ticket, if I wanted to join…

Last minute plans? Overcrowded spaces and loud noise?

I could not think of a single thing I wanted to do less in that moment. I mean, I do thoroughly enjoy snuggly clothes, quiet spaces, and deep conversations with people who feel safe, but it was more than that.

For most of my life I felt very out of place, like something was wrong with me because I couldn’t seem to manage the activities and environments that others navigated with such grace and ease. At least not without being fueled by alcohol and then also needing several days to recover after.

Thats because, for most of my life I didn’t understand that I was a highly sensitive and intuitive empath. There was nothing wrong with me at all, I just needed a certain kind of care and I didn’t operate in the way society had decided was superior (read: I wasn’t an extroverted social butterfly with an affinity for crowds).

If you also run highly sensitive and empathic, and being in loud, crowded spaces also leaves you feeling like you were just steamrolled by an 18-wheeler, listen up.

To understand empaths and overwhelm, first let’s break down what an empath even is.

What is an empath?

Though not a super scientific term or psychological diagnosis, the trademarks of an empath are that they are highly attuned to the emotions, feelings, and energy of others. Empaths are highly sensitive, and often known for being great listeners and space holders. We are naturally intuitive and just seem to know, not only how you’re feeling, but deeper information as well.

Though many people might experience these traits from time to time, an empath experiences these consistently throughout their daily life.

Some telltale signs you might be an empath:

While these might sound like generally positive traits, being highly sensitive and attuned to others can come with it’s challenges, especially if we are ill-equipped to manage our sensitivity.

Common challenges faced by empaths

Our heightened sensitivity and ability to feel so deeply can often lead to sensory and emotional overload. We’re taking everything in on a deeper level and it’s landing in our bodies in a big way.

Many empaths struggle with setting boundaries, and without boundaries we might be taking on too much, be doing things we have no interest in doing, or find ourselves being chronic caretakers of others at the expense of our own care. Where my people-pleasers at?

With being highly attuned to others, we really do feel what they are feeling as if it’s our own, which can make it difficult to distinguish between our own feelings and the feelings of those around us. This is one reason why crowded spaces or environments that are too loud or overstimulating can be incredibly draining for us.

We are feeling it ALL.

Symptoms of Overwhelm

Overwhelm can manifest in many different ways for different people and it’s helpful to identify what is most overwhelming for you. For example, I experience sensory overload pretty quickly when too many people are talking at once, the TV is on, there is a lawnmower outside and the dryer sounds like it’s about to take off out of the atmosphere. The sensory overload that comes from sound feels like a physical threat to my body, and in some ways it is. It is stimuli pushing past my physical boundaries and my body is responding… usually from a place of dysregulation.

Other physical symptoms we might experience when overwhelmed are a racing heart, brain fog, complete and utter exhaustion, or even just feeling anxious.

The key for us empaths is to have a solid self-care routine to better manage our energy and boundaries. I’m not just talking bubble baths, I’m talking self-awareness, key planning, and intentional choices that serve us so we can avoid getting to the point of overwhelm or burnout.

How to care for yourself as an empath

You know your body and boundaries best, so do an audit of where your biggest energy drains are coming from and work backwards from there. My non-negotiable is I am very strict with how I spend my time; I don’t over-schedule myself because it never ends well for me. Figure out what you need and build your support around that.

Some ides to get you started:

Thriving as an empath is possible with a little bit of mindful intention and understanding of yourself and your unique needs.

If you want to call forward more moments that leave you with that “hot cup of cocoa while wrapped in a snuggly blanket” feeling and less “I just got steamrolled by a semi truck” download my FREE Spiritual Toolkit to get started.

The toolkit consists of a

When practiced regularly you will notice a more grounded and supportive energy in yourself.

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