Everything You Need to Know About How to Avoid Empathy Burnout
Is your big, compassionate heart making it difficult for you to reap the benefits of self-care?
Do you often feel like being an empath makes stress management a challenge?
Are you ending your days feeling like you’ve burned the candle at both ends, and you just can’t seem to unwind?
Regardless of whether your job is in a caregiving profession or you’re just someone who loves to be of service to others, empathy burnout can cause major challenges in your ability to keep your heart open without causing undue stress to yourself.
In this post, I’ll be sharing some tips to help you learn to protect your own well-being without having to deny your empathic nature.
What is Empathy Burnout?
Empathy is often defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, whether they are good or bad. We’ve all had the experience of witnessing someone feeling strong emotions, and relating to that person so intensely that we felt as if we were living the experience ourselves.
Some people have such a strong sense of empathy for others that they choose to identify as “an Empath”, and see this ability as a gift that they value deeply. It helps them connect with others and often leads them to pursue careers in caretaking.
Empathy Burnout happens when this ability is over-exercised, and we experience an overload of other’s emotions.
This is usually caused by our neglect or inability to release the emotional energy of the other person, so we continue to carry it with us into other situations and areas of our lives.
When this happens, it can be hard to tell the difference between your own emotions and stress, and those of others. Everything becomes jumbled, like a tangled mess of yarn, and it becomes increasingly difficult to manage both our own stress, as well as the stress we’ve picked up from others.
And as I’ve mentioned in this blog post, stress is cumulative, and can have detrimental effects on our health and well-being. This is why it’s so important to learn to prevent Empathy Burnout.
How to Avoid Empathy Burnout
As someone who has a strong empathic nature, you may feel that it’s more like a curse than a gift. You may also feel that you have an obligation to care for others – even if it means not getting your own needs met and leading yourself down the path to burnout.
Empaths can feel burnout more quickly and deeply due to the fact that they often absorb the emotions and stress of others, as well as experiencing overwhelm and overstimulation easier than others. Add this to neglecting their own self-care, and it’s a recipe for chronic stress and burnout. And as with anything we’re struggling with, it’s always better to prevent the negative outcome before it gets any worse.
As the quote above suggests, one of the first things to do in order to avoid burning out as an empath is to start learning to put your own needs first. We’ve all heard the saying “you can’t pour from an empty vessel”, right? And it’s true! If we don’t make time to recharge after time spent serving others, we’re going to have very little to give the next time we’re helping others. That’s why as empathic people, self-care and stress management should be seen as a way of ensuring that we’re able to serve others from a place of wholeness, not with just what’s leftover.
Another important aspect of avoiding Empathy Burnout is to remember that our needs are just as important as those of others, and that we deserve to rest, too. Even Mother Teresa was known to make time for rest and her own spiritual practice – and we know she spent a lot of time caring for others, too!
The point is that it isn’t any less honorable to make sure you are feeling well-balanced as well as making time to care for the needs of others. In fact, they go hand in hand! There is nothing honorable about working yourself into exhaustion, no matter how you spend your time. Which brings me to my #1 tip for avoiding burnout as an empath – or for anyone, for that matter!
It All Comes Down to Setting Boundaries
Learning to set healthy and strong boundaries is one of the most important forms of self-care for empaths. People who aren’t so sensitive to the needs and emotions of others don’t struggle to know where another person’s responsibilities end and theirs begins. But since empathic people are like energetic sponges, we can have a hard time separating what is ours from what isn’t, and this can be a huge contributor to Empathy Burnout.
If you question your need for setting boundaries with the people you serve, consider this: do you ever feel resentful after caring for someone or doing some other service-based work? This is a strong indicator of the need for boundaries and a sign that if you don’t put some in place, you’re headed towards burnout quick. That’s not to say that your service to others needs to stop, but that it’s time to take a good look at how things are going, and how you want to continue.
One thing to consider is the type of people you’re trying to help, and whether or not they’re even receptive to it. Do they seem grateful in some way, or do they take advantage of you?
Pay attention to the people you surround yourself with during your time away from your service time – are they people that support & refresh your energy, or people that drain you? How can you spend more time with those that uplift you, and less with the energy drainers?
If you’re an entrepreneur, be mindful of the clients you accept – lookout for those that are more demanding, because they will cause you to burn out faster. Choose to work with clients who respect your boundaries so you can have a more balanced worklife.
More Ways You Can Avoid Empathy Burnout
Preventing burnout is all about completing the stress cycle and signaling to our nervous systems that we’re safe, and that it’s ok to relax. There are so many different ways to do this, and everyone will have their own preferences and get their own results. So, don’t be afraid to try something new, and if it doesn’t work for you just keep trying until you find what does!
Aside from learning to set strong and healthy boundaries, self-study and self-awareness can help empaths learn to identify what emotions are theirs, and what are not, so they can release the excess and focus on their own emotional processing and healing. Activities that promote this sort of thing are things like journaling, meditation, prayer, and other expressive activities that allow you to get in touch with your emotions and allow them to be processed and moved out of the mind and heart.
Embodied practices like yoga, breathwork, EFT Tapping, and similar techniques help diffuse the extra energy that empaths pick up. Any exercise will work, really. The goal is to find something you can do mindfully, and that will leave you feeling less stressed, anxious, and fully able to be present in your life outside of serving others.
Are you looking to deepen your understanding of self-care and stress management?
I’m working on a new program that will give you an in-depth understanding of the causes of burnout, as well as how to prevent it. You’ll also be given tools and learn easy yet effective techniques to help you become more productive while at the same time having more energy and joy so you can be more present for the things that matter most. Click the button below to sign up to get notified when the program is ready to launch!
Until next time,
Until next time,