“Empathy Fatigue”. As a highly sensitive person, have you found that as the years move on, you feel mentally and physically exhausted by everyone around you, the world, and the constant bombardment of sad news? You are not quite sure how you got here, but everything is too much, people are draining, and you want to be alone all the time.
Highly sensitive people (HSPs) have a deep sense of empathy and an awareness of the feelings of others; because of this, it can be difficult to keep up our emotional strength, as we can often become overwhelmed by the struggles of those around us.
On the one hand, HSPs can be highly attuned to the needs of others and be great problem solvers. On the other hand, we can be easily overwhelmed and struggle to find the right balance between our needs and those of others.
Not only do we feel empathy for the people in our lives but also from stories on TV and social media, natural disasters happening more frequently, the world getting too hot, and all the ice melting. Additionally, we watched a global pandemic unfold over the past few years, and America seems wholly divided, with everyone fighting.
Taking all this on and constantly thinking about it will radically affect our mental health, leading to empathy fatigue and eventually depression if we don't catch it in time.
The process of empathizing is complex, fulfilling, meaningful, and rewarding, but it takes time, exercise, and lots of energy.
Empathy fatigue is a real and serious problem for Highly Sensitive People. Some of the ways it can happen are by too much exposure to other people's feelings, such as being a caregiver or working in a service role where you are exposed to the suffering of others.
It can also be caused by being in an emotionally draining environment like a toxic workplace or friends who unload all of their problems on you.
When it gets out of control, tuning into other people's feelings can be emotionally draining and a dangerous habit, as it can be challenging to identify and maintain boundaries.
It can be difficult for HSPs to set boundaries, even when necessary. As an HSP, you may feel guilty for saying no to someone in need or uncomfortable asking for help.
Doing this can lead to a sense of overwhelm, as HSPs may feel like they are carrying the world's weight on their shoulders. To stay healthy and balanced, you must learn how to set boundaries and prioritize your needs.
It's important to recognize when you feel overwhelmed and to take a step back and distance yourself from the situation.
To Combat Empathy Fatigue Set Boundaries
Some of the feelings you may have in a state of empathy fatigue can be similar to depression:
- Isolating yourself.
- Can't concentrate.
- Avoiding friends and family.
- Feeling helpless or powerless.
- Feeling numb or sad all the time.
- Emotional and physical exhaustion.
- Frequently getting angry or irritated.
- Ruminating about negative things happening around you and in the world.
What you can do to help yourself:
It would benefit you if you recognized when it's necessary to ask for help and not be afraid to do so. It's also important to practice self-care and ensure you are taking care of your needs, including taking time to rest and recharge or engaging in calming and centering activities.
Fortunately, you can take steps to ease the burden of empathy fatigue. Here are some tips to help you cope with empathy fatigue:
- Take Time for Yourself: It is essential to ensure you are taking care of your needs and giving yourself adequate time to rest and relax. Do something that brings you joy and helps you unwind, like walking, listening to music, or reading a book.
- Connect with Others: Sharing your feelings and experiences with other people who understand can be a great way to cope with empathy fatigue. Connecting with like-minded individuals who can relate to what you're going through can be a huge relief. Talking with people who understand can provide support and validation and help you process your feelings.
- Practice Self-Compassion: When dealing with empathy fatigue, it is essential to be kind to yourself. Make sure to recognize your feelings and give yourself space to process them. When you feel overwhelmed, please take a few moments to breathe and remind yourself that it is okay to feel the way you do.
- Seek Professional Help: If you feel overwhelmed and struggle to cope with empathy fatigue, seeking professional help may be beneficial. A mental health professional can provide support and guidance to help you manage your emotions and develop healthy coping strategies.
- Develop healthy boundaries: Learning to set boundaries is essential for highly sensitive people. It's important to recognize when you are feeling overwhelmed and be able to say “no” when necessary. Setting boundaries can help you manage your emotional energy and give yourself time to recharge. Be sure to set realistic boundaries and stick to them.
Empathy fatigue can be a complicated issue to manage. However, following these tips can better manage your emotions and ease the burden of empathy fatigue.
Overall, empathy fatigue is a common issue for highly sensitive people. It can be overwhelming and debilitating, but it is possible to manage it. By following the tips outlined above, a highly sensitive person can reduce their feelings of empathy fatigue and restore their energy and well-being.
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