Self-Care During Challenging Times
I was recently in Vancouver for a week to care for my brother and to set things up for him. It was challenging trying to navigate the homecare system and the personalities of the people involved with his care. During this difficult time, I realized that I needed to find ways to look after myself while accomplishing what needed to be done. Everyone has their own way of dealing with stressful situations. I always tell my students that we need to find healthy ways to weather the storms in our lives.
I discovered a little cafe called Buddha Full and went there every day. I found it to be a great place to pick up a ginger shot, green juice, hot beverage, or smoothie.
Knowing that we tend to store our difficult emotions in our body and the importance of finding ways to release those emotions, I made sure to make that a priority. I booked a foot massage and ended up having traditional Chinese cupping as well. Cupping stimulates acupuncture points using a glass cup that has been heated with a flame, causing suction and a partial vacuum. If you have never had cupping, the suction from the cups leave distinctive circular bruises on the places where the cups were applied, which fade over time. It helps to reduce inflammation, release muscle tension, improve blood flow and to remove toxins.
Whenever I’m in Vancouver, I go to my favorite bookstore, Banyan Books. On this visit, I came across a book called, Self-Care for Empaths, written by Tanya Carroll Richardson.
An empath is someone that is highly attuned to the feelings and emotions of others. They have a heightened capacity to feel the energy of people in their lives and can be overwhelmed by it. They can be adept at reading nonverbal communication such as body language, posture, and facial expressions.
“Empaths lack the filters most people use to protect themselves from excessive stimulation and can’t help but take in surrounding emotions and energies, whether they’re good, bad, or something in between.”
I never understood why I get exhausted from certain situations and why it takes me longer to recuperate from them. I now understand myself on a deeper level and have been practicing ways to protect and preserve my energy.
As a nutritional counsellor, being empathic can be a gift of having a deeper compassion and connection to my clients, helping them feel understood and heard.
Empaths sometimes have difficulty deciphering if the emotions they are feeling are theirs or the other persons. To keep ourselves healthy we need to find ways to stay grounded and remain centered in our own energy, and to not take responsibility for others’ emotions.
Empaths like myself can unconsciously feel the need to calm someone down and make them feel better in order to not absorb their challenging or intense energy and emotions. It is important to try to help but it is just as important to maintain strong boundaries.
Have you ever been at an event or get together and as soon as someone enters the room you feel their negative energy? Does it make you feel uneasy or overwhelmed? Do you feel the need to stay away from them to preserve and protect yourself?
Here are some techniques you can practice to shield and protect yourself:
- Visualize your energy field as a cape, which is much larger than your physical body, and wrap it around yourself.
- Visualize a glass wall between you and others that allows you to engage with them while not allowing their emotions to penetrate. This way you don’t absorb their emotions.
- Practice witnessing other people’s energy. You can become the observer, imagining a space between your energy field and theirs.
- Practice detached compassion for others by letting them make their own choices and letting them deal with the outcomes, while still caring deeply for them.
- Let others in your life know that you can have sensory overload or be overwhelmed by loud noises and loud voices.
- Create space in your schedule to take time to retreat and recover in a healthy way to restore energy.
- Set up strong boundaries by saying NO to things you don’t feel like doing. Know yourself and set limits based on your needs, energy, and feelings.
- Embrace your downtime. Make a point to go for a walk in nature with your device turned off or simply read a book. I have a hammock in my backyard between two big trees and its magical!