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Self-Care for Empaths

In this episode of LivingUpp's Conversations with Smart People, I talked with life coach Laurie Carlson about self-care for empaths and highly sensitive people.

Laurie holds a bachelor's degree in Counseling and Social Work and a master’s degree in Organizational Psychology and Leadership, which enables her to guide clients toward understanding how to master their sensitivity, so it can serve them in creating the life they desire. 

If you've ever described yourself (or have ever been described by someone else) as an emotional person, be sure to listen in.

Watch the full interview here.

What does it mean to be a highly sensitive person? 

Highly sensitive people (HSP) were first described by psychologist Dr. Elaine E. Arin, author of The Highly Sensitive Person* back in the 90's. In her research, she discovered that about 15 to 20% of all humans are born with a brain and nervous system that receive higher amounts of information. That information can come through our senses -- light, sound, textures -- and also internally, such as thoughts, feelings, hunger and pain. 

Empaths are a subset of the HSP group and about 1 to 2% of the population falls into that category. "Empaths are people who receive the emotional energy of others more easily," says Laurie. But there are some other variations. For example, some people also have a deeper emphatic connection to animals, and can sense what animals are feeling. 

About 70% of HSP are introverts, leaving roughly 30% as extroverts. 

How do you find out if you're an empath or HSP?

"First, it's important to note that being an empath or HSP doesn't mean anything is wrong with you," Laurie says. 

She suggests starting with the self-assessment on her website to see if you have any of these tendencies.

Take the assessment here.

Here are some tell tale signs:

  • Do you have trouble with bright lights?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed with loud sounds?
  • Do you avoid crowds?
  • Do you get overwhelmed by your own imagination?
  • Do you have intense dreams?
  • Do you feel things (negative and positive) intensely?

Again, it's not a disorder; it can actually be an asset. 

What adjustments can be made for empaths or highly sensitive people?

Most people make adjustments naturally by avoiding situations that cause them distress, but many have learned to reserve more time between activities to process all the information and reflect on what's happening.

"Again, it's important to remember not to feel bad about needing more time," Laurie explains. "There is nothing wrong with you."

Another helpful adjustment is to create a meditation practice. Even if it's just 10 minutes each day, meditating can help reduce the stimulation. It also helps down-regulate the nervous system and reduce stress. 

What are some benefits to being an empath or HSP?

In a corporate settings, empaths and HSP are often more aware of group dynamics, making them well-suited to assess group morale. This can be a huge asset to companies and organizations. 

In our personal lives and relationships, HSPs are more in tune with family members and can address the smaller things that often go unnoticed. This 'early warning system' can go a long way to help build and strengthen relationships.

HSPs also make amazing connections, whether it's connecting people or less obvious patterns that lead to solutions. 

How do you practice self-care personally?

Laurie's self-care practice includes meditation, journaling, and taking baths with epsom salts.

It's clear that empaths and highly sensitive people possess some truly unique gifts that can be used to deepen relationships and bring richness to the world.

Want to connect with Laurie?

In her coaching practice, Laurie helps empaths and highly sensitive people understand their brain and nervous system better, so they can master their sensitivity and use it in a way that better serves them. 

If you're curious to know if you fall into either of these categories, you can take the assessment here and learn more about how to work with Laurie on her website.

Have a thought about self-care for empaths and highly sensitive people? Leave a comment below.

*LivingUpp™ is a participant in affiliate programs, which means we may earn a commission from qualifying purchases on links to Amazon and other affiliate sites.

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