When I was 6-years old, I told my grandparents I needed "privacy." They were watching me for the weekend and apparently, I'd experienced enough supervision and was craving a little personal space.
Ever since I can remember, I've loved being alone and while I also love people, I recharge during periods of solitude.
As you can imagine, moving to New York City 11 years ago was quite the transition.
People were everywhere and places were loud and...did I mention everything was loud? The first few months left me confused and frustrated, absorbing other people's energies on the subway, in waiting rooms, elevators, you name it. I spent hours alone in my apartment to recharge. It wasn't fun and it wasn't sustainable.
I'm an empath.
You might be one too if you're exhausted by large group gatherings and drained after listening to an angry person vent.
People like us can hide this aspect of our character by putting on a happy face and moving from one social function to the next. We usually end up exhausted, sick in bed or looking for any excuse to listen to what our bodies and souls actually need - rest.
Thriving as an empath is totally doable with a little self-love, boundary setting and creativity.
Here are 4 tips for empaths, introverts and anyone who's been told they're "too sensitive."
I need time alone every day. It looks like taking a walk, sitting in meditation or closing my eyes wherever I am. I used to be ashamed, muttering under my breath that I felt tired or making up errands while traveling with friends.
As maid of honor in my best friend's wedding this summer, one of the duties included getting ready in a hotel suite with 15 people. Halfway through the day, I curled up with a magazine in a quiet corner. After my mini-siesta, I felt energized and fully present.
I was even spotted by a fellow bridesmaid, who revealed she was craving alone time, too. Our instant bond was a reminder that when we're authentic, we attract like-minded people who love us for who we are.
Pragmatically, I need major tools for living in NYC. Between street performers, traffic sounds and collective sidewalk conversations, urban living is the ultimate training ground.
When you can't take another minute in a crowded store or subway, try this meditation:
Close your eyes and take a breath. Envision a white light entering the crown of your head and moving down your entire body. Feel the light calming your chest, stomach and legs. See the light offering a loving protection between you and the rest of the world. You can also envision a beach, spending time with loved ones, or any scene that makes you feel calm. Feel free to be creative.
As a sensitive person, I take on other's people's "stuff" easily. These concrete tools help:
Water - Pour epsom salt into a bath or use a favorite scrub in the shower. Water washes away energies we pick up throughout the day.
Sounds - Deva Premal's mantra music is magic. I play her when I leave my apartment so the calm energy is waiting when I return.
Flower Essences - This is my ultimate tool for managing waves of exhaustion and protecting my energy. Flower Essences are an energetic healing remedy served in a small bottle. Each essence is derived from a different flower and supports us through various transitions and emotions. Some of my favorite essences for overstimulation are Yarrow, Aspen and Walnut. I use my personalized blend throughout the day to stay centered.
4) Be Gentle
Loved ones may have a hard time accepting your need for alone time and a slower pace.
If you're frightened by the prospect of saying no, I understand. Take things slowly and gently.
Ask for a few quiet minutes at the end of your day or go on a walk before a big event. Being with myself leaves me recharged and ready to show up for those I love. I remember this truth whenever I feel pulled to keep charging through my days.
Most importantly, be patient with yourself and others. There's no "right" or "wrong" way of being in the world and the ultimate gift is in accepting ourselves for who we are. My wish for anyone who has struggled with feeling worn down, sensitive or frazzled is that you take a big breath, pace yourself and know that you're doing just fine.
Do you relate to feeling stressed or overloaded? Do you know someone who is right now? Forward this to a colleague or loved one who might benefit and write any of your own tips in the comments below.
All my best,
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