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How do empaths deal with stress?

Empaths are highly sensitive people who tend to absorb the emotions and energy of others. This can make them more prone to stress and anxiety in difficult situations. However, there are many strategies and coping mechanisms that empaths can use to deal with stress in healthy ways.

What is an empath?

An empath is someone who has a high degree of empathy and is able to intuitively understand the emotions and experiences of others. Empaths tend to be very compassionate, caring, and attuned to subtle emotional shifts and energies around them.

Because of their heightened sensitivity, empaths are often deeply affected by the emotions of people around them. They may experience physical sensations or emotions that don’t necessarily originate from them, but from the people close by. For example, an empath may suddenly feel anxious, depressed, or irritated for no apparent reason. Usually, this is because they have subconsciously “absorbed” the emotions of others.

Empaths not only pick up on the feelings of others, but also on the unspoken energy in a room. They tend to find busy, crowded places overwhelming as they are bombarded with external stimuli. Empaths require alone time to recharge their batteries and find peace.

Why do empaths struggle with stress?

There are several key reasons empaths tend to feel stressed more often than others:

  • Absorbing Other’s Emotions – Empaths often take on the feelings of those around them, even complete strangers. This can be emotionally draining and lead to anxiety, depression, irritability and other signs of stress.
  • Processing Deep Emotions – Empaths tend to process their emotions on a deeply profound level. Dealing with emotions so intensely can impact moods and cause empaths to feel overwhelmed.
  • Need More Alone Time – As introverts, empaths need time by themselves to recharge. Too much social interaction causes overstimulation. Not getting enough solitude to renew drains their energy reserves.
  • Overthinking and Worrying – The combination of absorbing others’ feelings, thinking deeply, and needing alone time can lead empaths to ruminate and overanalyze themselves and situations. This overthinking breeds anxiety.
  • Harsh Self-Judgment – Empaths often have perfectionistic tendencies and may judge themselves as inadequate when they don’t live up to their high standards. Setting strict rules for themselves contributes to tension and distress.
  • Avoiding Conflict – To keep the peace, empaths may bottle up their feelings rather than expressing them openly and honestly. This avoidance of conflict can manifest in stress-related issues like passive-aggressiveness, resentment, and pent-up anger.

Signs an empath is stressed

Some common signs that an empath is dealing with high stress include:

  • Being withdrawn, isolated, and avoiding social interaction
  • Fatigue, low energy, feeling drained
  • Headaches or other physical pains
  • Anxiety, panic attacks, feeling overwhelmed
  • Trouble relaxing or enjoying free time
  • Depression, sadness, frequent crying
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • More sensitive than usual to noises, smells, lights etc
  • Obsessive thinking or constant worrying
  • Outbursts of anger or irritability
  • Overeating or loss of appetite
  • Substance abuse

When under chronic stress, empaths may also be prone to health issues like high blood pressure, insomnia, skin conditions, heart disease, obesity, stroke, gastrointestinal problems, and mental health disorders.

Tips for empaths to manage stress

If you identify as an empath, here are some proactive ways for you to cope with stress and maintain your peace of mind:

1. Protect your energy

Avoid taking on too much. Be mindful of your limits and pay attention to signs you’re feeling drained or overwhelmed. Say “no” to commitments that would deplete you and prioritize your self-care. For instance:

  • Politely decline invites for social gatherings when you need solo time to recharge.
  • Don’t overschedule yourself – leave space for relaxation.
  • Limit time around toxic, drama-prone people who zap your energy.
  • Take frequent breaks at work to reset.
  • Turn off the news and avoid overstimulating input before bed.

2. Set healthy boundaries

Don’t let people take advantage of your kindness and willingness to help. Be aware of other’s demands on your time and resources. It’s okay to say “I can’t” or “I need space” – you don’t need to justify it. Start observing when and how to draw boundaries.

3. Make time for yourself

Ensure you schedule regular alone time to decompress without distractions. Spend time outdoors in nature, pursue hobbies, take soothing baths – whatever helps you disconnect and renew your spirit. Don’t let obligations crowd out this critical “me time.”

4. Develop mindful awareness

Practice being present and tune into your thoughts, emotions and sensations in the moment. Observe how external energies affect you. Mindfulness meditation helps empaths become grounded, separate their feelings from others’, and gain perspective on draining situations.

5. Release negative emotions

Don’t bottle up emotions inside – acknowledge any pain, anger or resentment you’re internalizing. Release these feelings in a healthy way through exercise, art, talking to a friend, or journaling. Expressing emotions prevents their negative buildup.

6. Set goals and keep perspective

Stress often arises when we lose perspective on priorities. Make plans for the future so you have meaning and direction. Celebrate little victories and stay focused on what really matters rather than getting lost in trivial daily stresses.

7. Get physical

Exercises like yoga, walking, swimming, or cycling give empaths a huge boost by releasing endorphins and tension from the body. Any movement you enjoy counts – even just short bursts throughout the day.

8. Eat nutritious foods

Fuel your body with healthy, energizing foods like fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, and whole grains. Limit processed items high in sugar and trans fats that cause crashes. Stay hydrated with water and herbal tea.

9. Get quality sleep

Good rest is crucial, so maintain a consistent sleep routine. The average adult needs 7-9 hours per night. Make your bedroom a sanctuary for sleeping only. Consider natural remedies like magnesium, white noise, essential oils, eye masks and Epsom salt baths.

10. Find your tribe

Having empath friends who “get it” provides a sense of community. Connect with like-minded people who accept you fully and share advice on navigating sensitivity. But also value relationships with non-empaths for balance.

When to get professional help

If empaths feel constantly stressed, on edge, or emotionally drained, it may be time to get professional support. A therapist can help identify unhelpful thought patterns and provide healthy coping strategies. Some options include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – Targets problematic thinking styles that fuel anxiety and depression.
  • Mindfulness-based therapies – Help empaths manage overwhelm and gain perspective.
  • Support groups – Connect with fellow empaths who relate to your experiences.
  • Life coaching – Provides guidance on setting empowering goals and boundaries.
  • Energy healing – Releases blocked emotions and restores balance.

Additionally, a psychiatrist may prescribe medications in more severe cases: anti-anxiety meds, antidepressants, sleep aids or blood pressure drugs. Though not a cure, medication combined with therapy can help empaths regain control.

Tips for friends and family of stressed empaths

If you have an empath loved one who seems constantly tense and overwhelmed, here are some ways to support them:

  • Encourage them to take time for themselves when needed.
  • Don’t take their need for solitude personally.
  • Remind them to set boundaries and say no to demands.
  • Cook healthy meals and exercise together.
  • Suggest relaxing activities you can do as a distraction.
  • Help create a peaceful home environment.
  • Give reassurance and validation when they feel anxious.
  • Recommend they speak to a professional counselor.
  • Educate yourself about the traits of empaths.
  • Show empathy when they share difficulties.

The key is providing a non-judgemental space where the empath feels safe to express their true emotions and recharge. Avoid pressuring them to engage socially more than they want to.

Self-care strategies for empaths

Implementing regular self-care practices is vital for empaths prone to stress. Here are some to try:

Morning routine

  • Drink lemon water to hydrate and boost immunity.
  • Stretch, meditate or journal to set positive intentions.
  • Diffuse energizing essential oils like grapefruit or rosemary.
  • Wear grounding stones like hematite or black tourmaline.
  • Eat a nourishing breakfast.
  • Connect with your pet – animals are grounding.

Workday breaks

  • Do a 15-minute meditation or deep breathing.
  • Take a walk outside to clear your head.
  • Read an uplifting book or listen to soothing music.
  • Step outside barefoot to “ground.”
  • Drink herbal tea and snack on nuts or fruit.

After work wind-down

  • Have a warm Epsom salt bath to de-stress.
  • Diffuse calming scents like lavender and clary sage.
  • Massage pressure points on feet, neck and shoulders.
  • Cuddle a pet – our animals comfort us.
  • Write down thoughts and feelings to process emotions.
  • Limit social media and news before bed.

Weekend recharge

  • Spend time in nature hiking, swimming, stargazing etc.
  • Get a massage or energy healing session.
  • Take relaxing bubble baths with Epsom salts.
  • Cook nourishing, comfort foods like soups and stews.
  • Turn off phone, light candles and read or listen to music.
  • Catch up on sleep.

When to seek medical advice

In some cases, empaths may experience such severe chronic stress that medication and therapy become necessary. See your doctor or psychiatrist if you have pronounced symptoms like:

  • Depression lasting more than 2 weeks
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Panic attacks
  • High anxiety interfering with daily life
  • Insomnia almost every night
  • Loss of appetite and rapid weight loss
  • Daily headaches, chest pain, dizziness, etc
  • Outbursts of crying and irritation
  • Poor concentration and forgetfulness
  • Constant fatigue
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or others
  • Substance abuse

A combination of medication and counseling can help empaths manage debilitating stress. Don’t lose hope in finding relief – with professional support and self-care, you can overcome chronic anxiety.


Empaths don’t need to dread stress. By understanding their sensitivity, using coping techniques, and asking for help when needed, they can live fuller, calmer lives. Supporting an empath means creating a judgement-free space for them to express emotions and recharge batteries drained by external energies.

The key is learning to set boundaries, detach from other’s feelings, and nurture one’s mind, body and spirit. This allows empaths to utilize their gifts while developing resilience against chronic stressors. With greater awareness and care for their needs, empaths can thrive every day in this high-stimulus world.