I’ve spent my whole life caring for others.
I’ve also spent my life fighting fatigue and depletion, desperate for ways to replenish my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energy.
I’m the oldest of four siblings and the first of 13 grandchildren. Being the oldest meant I was the go-to babysitter, advice-giver, and mother hen of my friend’s circle in my early and late teens.
In my 20s, I started my own healing and yoga practice, which I enjoyed, until it started to really deplete me. And now, in my 30s, I’m training to be a therapist, and looking forward to working well beyond retirement doing what I love: listening deeply to the heart-speak of another.
But there is one caveat here: doing what I love also has the tendency to leave me drained and listless.
Like most empaths and highly sensitive people (or HSPs) I get so invested in others, I sometimes forget about myself. Sometimes I am only reminded that I need recharging when my inner reserves are almost on empty.
A while ago, I wrote an article “A Psychic Cleanse for a Highly Sensitive Person” and it touched on the very delicate need for mental and emotional space that emerges like a tidal wave when the psyche of empaths and HSPs suddenly becomes full. Unlike a gas tank, a full psyche is something we want to avoid at all costs. Feeling full is akin to the bloat and discomfort that accompanies overeating or the disjointed detachment of being sleep-deprived.
Words for feeling “full” that may resonate for other HSPs and empaths: depleted, exhausted, burned out, overwhelmed, at my breaking point, fried, off my center, ungrounded, and not myself.
What other words do you use? Feel free to add to the comments section, as they will most likely resonate for others (myself included) as well.
Emptying the psyche (isn’t so easy):
So what can we do when we need take a psychic dump? Before I explain, I’m going to share my favorite words for emptying that psychic tank: purge, release, cleanse, detox, let go, unwind, rejuvenate, replenish, renew, heal, open, expand, and make space.
I like to look at my “cleanse” as a ritual, because it makes it feel more special to me. A ritual doesn’t have to be affiliated with religion or spirituality. It can be an intentional action or a sacred space carved out with purpose and intent.
Here are some of my favorite rituals for cleansing my empathic and highly sensitive psyche.
>> A hot sea salt bath (or Epsom salt with a few drops of my favorite essential oils):
I light candles and make sure I have time to just soak and unwind. Sometimes I play music or an enlightening talk, and sometimes the whispers in the silence are the music that begins to sweep away any cobweb thoughts or feelings.
>> A nature walk or “nature bathing“:
Just stepping outdoors and soaking the the sounds, sights, and feelings can cleanse the clutter of the mind and heart. Walking in the woods has been shown to send endorphins to the brain and increase those feel-good hormones like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin.
As a writer, my go-to purge for intense thoughts, feelings, and emotions is a pen and pad or my laptop and a fresh Google doc page.
I have a variety of tarot and oracle card decks. I love to pick a card when I’m feeling off my center. I find that the message is just what I need to hear. Instead of looking up the meaning, I use my intuition to feel into the impressions I get from the card first and write down the first few words or thoughts that come to mind. Then I look the meaning up—but I often find that my own interpretation is more meaningful and resonant.
It’s the simplest, most nourishing art form in my opinion. When we treat cooking as an act of self-love, we not only enjoy the process of making food, but also then enjoy the process of ingesting it. This whole experience can be one of the most rewarding self-rejuvenating rituals.
I personally love to put on a Netflix show with my favorite comedian or engage with a loved one who makes me laugh (often, this is my silly seven-year-old). Laughter seems to blow out the clutter we are carrying and make space for the joy and gratitude of being fully in the moment and appreciating the simplicity of life.
>> Doing something mindless:
Coloring and drawing are good examples. I treat simple art projects—like coloring mandala books or making a painting with my child—as acts of mindfulness. Last year, when I was stressed and overwhelmed with graduate school assignments, I found myself modge-podging old tabletops with scrapbook paper in my home and feeling a sense of replenishment after the fact. To this day, I still feel joy when I look at these beautiful pieces that surround my living space.
>> Stretching your body:
Yoga anyone? Chi gong? Tai Chi? I’m a yoga teacher. Yoga is my go-to way to release depletion and exhaustion. Yoga also turns on my “spirit” button and opens me to the ability to clear energy—just with a simple breath. Getting into your body mindfully reminds you that clearing is constantly happening—each exhale is a release of carbon dioxide. Each inhale is an opportunity to take in new oxygen, making more space for the goodness of the moment.
Author: Sarah Theresa
Image: Author’s Own; Informedmag/Flickr
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Copy & Social Editor: Travis May