Holidays are stressful for everyone but for the empath the holidays can be a nightmare of exhaustion, confusion, and negativity.
Empaths often struggle during the holidays because there is so little downtime to rest your overstimulated nervous system. Peace, joy and good will can be elusive when you head full steam into the holiday season without making sure to take care of yourself.
You Are Not Weak or Flawed
You take things personally because your highly sensitive nervous system gives you signals that everything is personal. You feel other’s feelings so deeply that if a relative or friend is sick, you feel sick. If they are depressed, you feel depressed. If someone didn’t like the dessert, you feel like a failure because you sense their judgment with every cell of your body. Or if there is family conflict you can feel it so deeply that you become emotionally immobilized and shut down.
Your sensitivities can lead down a path that becomes an endless loop of trying to please and fix others. If those around you are happy, you are happy, so you work hard to make sure everyone has what they need and want. This might be the only way you know to find happiness and peace because you haven’t been taught to tend to your own nervous system first.
It’s important to remember that as a highly empathic person your nervous system is different than others. It’s a physical issue. You are not too sensitive. You are not weak. You are not flawed. You have a nervous system that is so sensitive to all stimuli that you become overwhelmed and can’t think straight or feel clearly.
Prevent a Melt Down!
It’s extremely frustrating and sometimes embarrassing to have a melt down in the middle of family and social festivities because you’ve reached your limit. Here are some suggestions to help you lessen the stress on your nervous system and help you retain your composure so that you can enjoy the holidays. Learning to consciously calm your nervous system is the primary skill an empath needs to sustain inner happiness and peace. But if you haven’t developed this skill and you are already feeling the holiday stress, here are some suggestions to help you enjoy the holidays now.
The Ten Holiday Strategies
1. Give yourself time-outs several times a day. 5 – 10 minutes of silence in a room away from others gives your nervous system a needed rest. I find that bathrooms serve as a refuge when I’m out and can’t get to my own meditation room. There are many bathroom stalls around the world that have saved my sanity!
2. Eat to be healthy and happy, not to be social. I know it’s tempting to eat a lot and to eat sweets and other foods that drain your energy…..isn’t that what holidays are for? Not really! We’ve been conditioned to believe that holidays are for “letting ourselves go”. When you contemplate what really makes you happy and what truly supports your nervous system, you realize that eating for happiness is eating what’s good for you, not what others may be eating.
3. Protect your sleep time like it is the crown jewels. When you are sleep deprived you start the day with a compromised nervous system. Leave festivities early, clean up the next morning, ask for help, but don’t do anything that causes you to lose sleep.
4. Meditate on your feet. Meditation is about remembering the true you. When you are engaged in conversations, shopping, planning, and celebrating, tune into your feet. Imagine sinking roots into the earth through the soles of your feet. Feel the earth supporting, stabilizing, and nourishing you. The earth provides you with “chi”, good living energy to support your health, clear your mind, and uplift your emotions.
5. Get Out of Your Head and Breathe. Drop into your body and breathe. This seems obvious but if your attention is focused on others it is hard to remember to breathe. Set your watch to remind you to focus on your breath once every hour.
6. Draw Your Energy Cords Back from Others. Empaths get drawn away from their inner awareness easily. You like to connect with others fully and completely. Your energy extends into others like a hose filling a pool. This is how your nervous system is wired and it’s time to rewire it. You don’t have to give away all your energy. Save some for yourself by drawing your awareness back to yourself, breathe, sink downward, feel your roots in the earth and breathe your energy back into you. Come back to yourself and rest in the peace of your own radiant heart.
7. Learn to Say “NO”. Learn to say “no” before it’s too late. You don’t have to blindly agree to requests for help. Learn to recognize when someone is not taking responsibility and hold them accountable. Even if you feel their discomfort at being called out don’t let that stop you from standing up for yourself. You’ll be much happier and feel more authentic.
8. Soothe Your Nervous System with Loving Self Talk. Remind yourself to not take things personally. You are not responsible for other’s feelings, thoughts, and circumstances. As an empath you must remind yourself of this constantly because your nervous system is telling you otherwise. Imagine all your nerve endings circling back to you and generating a loop of colorful, happy energy circulating throughout your body.
9. Forgive Yourself. If you can’t handle a situation because it is overwhelming, too stimulating or there are too many expectations, recognize it, remove yourself, and forgive yourself.
10. Set an Intention for Yourself for the Holidays. Pick one of the strategies and create an intention for yourself. Make it attainable and short. Here are some examples to get you started.
• I will take six rest breaks each day.
• I will remember to breathe every time I feel overwhelmed.
• When I’m confused I’ll draw my energy cords back to myself.
• If I have a meltdown I’ll forgive myself.
• I’ll set my phone to remind me to sink my roots every fifteen minutes.
Reminders and Notifications
Set up reminders for yourself. Put this list where you can read it often. Set it up as a reminder or notification in your phone and computer. Jot down the abbreviated version of the seven points on sticky notes and put it on your computer, bathroom mirror, steering wheel, and refrigerator, anywhere you’ll see it often. Remind yourself dozens of times daily to practice these helpful suggestions and enjoy the spirit of peace, good will, and happiness this holiday season.
Very nice, Linda.