5 ways to protect yourself and stay strong
In today’s world it is so easy to be consumed with heaviness, but as an empath, where you literally feel everything you process, it can be unbearable. There is so much information confronting us from the moment we open our eyes till the moment our heads hit the pillow and our brains can finally rest. For many, from the moment they open their eyes, they reach for their phone. A quick catch up on our friends’ lives on Facebook or Instagram, a scan of the morning’s news headlines, a glimpse of the weather forecast...and all of this before we have even stepped out of bed. On some days, it can feel like you have been bombarded and faced a full-on assault before you have even left your house.
Often when I watch the news, scroll social media or listen to people around me, it feels as if I might implode or on bad days, it feels like I’m literally drowning. Politicians are using language which incites fear, rhetoric which divides and polarises communities at grassroots level and it feels like society has gone back decades. There are alerts at the highest level which are being sounded about climate change and how we as a species (the only species) are intent on destroying our resources, regardless of the evidence science provides us, and we seem quite determined to take the rest of the animal and plant population down with us.
Did you know that as humans, we are predisposed to negativity? It is far easier to find the flaws in life, to judge others and to perpetuate negative vibes than it is for us to live in gratitude. For many, they seem to go through life with their ‘glass constantly half empty’.
Happiness and positivity is something that one needs to actively choose. It is a discipline which needs to be nurtured and practiced in order that it may have a long-term effect. As such, you’ll probably find that many conversations that take place around you tend to be individuals complaining: either self-deprecating comments or just misinformed, fear-based commentary on social issues. It’s almost as if they walk through life with grey clouds hanging above them.
Another thing that seems to pass the world by is the sheer abundance in our lives that we should be grateful for. Once again, the vast majority of people living in developed countries are so busy focussing on what they don’t have, that they completely take for granted everything that is already in their hands.
As an empath it can be a daily ongoing struggle to interact with the world around us, and not be consumed by the raw emotions of others. People are literally walking around wearing their hearts on their sleeves and we are there, feeling everything they communicate. Sometimes it can seem that we are surrounded by a white noise of negativity.
As a life coach, I am faced with this continuously and I can feel my energy draining. On some days, it feels like I’ve just sat a 5-hours exam, or like I’ve been hit by a truck so to speak...and all of this from anxiety and the weight of the emotions of others. It therefore becomes a priority, in fact a necessity, that I need to protect my energy and my emotional wellbeing. Here are my top five tips to help keep me sane in today’s insane world:
1. Meditation for grounding and clarity - I have two little girls, one is six years old and the other is nearly nine months old. It is safe to say that my household is madness in the mornings; we’re up at the crack of dawn and the chaos of brushing teeth, breakfast debacles and which hair baubles matter doesn’t stop until we’ve completed the school run. As such, I don’t have the luxury of starting my day in a bubble of solitude and meditation to set my day up. However, I do have to walk through the most beautiful park in the city in order to get to the school. As such, on the walk back home I tend to pick up a coffee from the cafe and head over to my favourite part in the park. I kick off my shoes so I can feel the grass underneath the soles of my feet and I literally connect with the Earth for grounding. Next, I’ll try to get my baby off for her nap, and then surrounded by nature and beautiful birdsong, I will meditate for at least 30 minutes. It is a chance for my mind to still and my body to check in with itself...kind of like a daily situation report that the various parts of my body feedback to my brain. ‘How are we all doing today?’, ‘Any tension building up?’ ‘Anything we need to reflect on?’. This may not seem like a long time but now my body knows that this my only window of opportunity and therefore it has become efficient in what it needs to do to help me find my centre.
2. Mindfulness as a reminder not to react to everything I experience - this is closely related to the above point however, the main difference being that I try to have several moments of mindfulness throughout my day. Simple things like feeling the water on my skin when I am washing my hands, or connecting with how my body is feeling when I have to sit down to breastfeed my baby all help. But my personal favourite one is when I have to be completely present when trying to put my little one to sleep and I try to mimic and influence her breathing with my calming energy. This one is always a really good test to see what vibration I am giving off as babies are sensitive to their environment and will clearly communicate if they are picking up any tension.
3. Self-care - until fairly recently, I considered this to be quite a luxury and only something I could fit in once I had taken care of everyone else’s needs around me, which to be honest was hardly ever as there is always things to do for others. However, I now realise that I can’t keep looking out for and giving to others if I don’t recharge/refuel myself. This is especially true when I am coaching my clients. Many of them are overcoming emotional trauma and reclaiming their power and therefore we work through deep issues together which can be energy sapping. It is therefore essential for me to be operating at my optimum level. So now, with that in mind, I have a different mindset. I now have a ‘tool kit’ which is full of the things that I need to feel my best version of human. These include essentials such as Bach flower remedies, Rescue Remedy, chamomile or red bush tea. In fact, red bush tea reminds me of home where I was born, South Africa, which is where my heart rests and therefore a simple cup of tea brings me great peace. I also schedule in activities for me such as zumba for happiness and yoga for connecting physically with my body, which are protected times and added into my calendar. I now see these as my guilt-free slots which make me a better and stronger person for those around me.
4. Gratitude journaling - this is truly a transformational practice; the more I do this, the more I feel my perspective shift and weight is literally lifted off my shoulders. Taking time out, ideally daily, to reflect on what it is that has actually touched my life and left it for the better is really necessary in today’s world. Although I have experienced many tough knocks that life has thrown my way, I have also been blessed with abundance. It hasn’t come without a price but by mindfully being grateful, I transform from a position of ‘why me’ when things go wrong, to a position of ‘bring it on’. I’m not challenging the Universe to step it up a gear but rather, I know that this knock will not beat me and I will go on to bigger and better things. It also gives me pause to take stock of my thoughts, create some distance from any feelings of overwhelm I may be experiencing and to reset my emotions.
5. Disconnect from IT - oh this is a biggie which is probably my hardest one given the nature of our lives and livelihoods. We all know how important it is to reduce our screen time but living in a digital age means we really have to practice self-discipline so as not to become consumed by digital content. Given how algorithms track and monitor our clicks and then go on to provide us with content which may be of interest to us, it easy to see how we can be fooled into thinking ‘everyone is talking about the same thing’ and we become surrounded by a limited number of topics and points of view. It becomes overwhelming and all-consuming and also extremely unbalanced. It creates a false reality of what is really going on and as an empath we can spiral into overdrive. What I try to do is to ensure I’m always viewing and engaging in a wide range of content, this helps to keep me in balance. I switch off notifications on my devices, therefore I am only engaging when I want to...not because my phone keeps pinging at me. This particular practice allows me to stay more present and more focussed. I also try to go for a walk in the park or on the beach and leave my phone behind. Once again this allows me to connect my mind and body and move away from a reactive mode.
Being an empath in today’s world can be overwhelming. There is so much going on which causes people to be living in a state of fear, sadness, frustration or aggression and to be sending out negative vibrations and energy. A night out socialising or a day in an open plan office can literally feel like you’ve done five rounds in a MMA cage. It is imperative that we protect our energy in order that we can survive the daily demands that are placed on us. We must prioritise self-care and safeguard the time in our busy schedules. I used to think that this was quite selfish and the word ‘selfish’ has a negative connotation. However, the dictionary also defines it as ‘self-love’ and ‘inward-looking’ both of which are not a bad thing.
So let’s just breathe, let’s connect our body and mind, let’s focus and let’s live.
Photo credit: Quentin Lagache | Unsplash