The day is here.
For many of us, election anxiety has been rising steadily. My therapy practice is in Pennsylvania, a state that the nation is watching closely. Stress here is off the charts. I commented to my own therapist that I have been more anxious lately. Most people are feeling more anxious and stressed in a world that, at times, seems surreal and unprecedented (no pun intended here).
I’ve been reflecting on what amounts to a national trauma: COVID-19, election anxiety, and systemic racism are affecting all of us—keeping us in fight-or-flight mode. For empaths, it’s easy to take on pick up bits and pieces of this collective trauma, which can overwhelm us.
What does being an empath mean?
We generally think of empathy as a positive: empathy is the ability to connect to others and to understand their feelings. But, empaths do this on a level deeper than through thoughts alone. Many empaths can feel others’ emotions energetically. When empaths understand which emotions are theirs—and which belong to others around them—such empathy can be a positive trait. It can help with connection and intimacy.
But empaths also pick up anxiety, depression, anger, and despair.
When empaths pick up these trauma-based emotions it can be disruptive. It’s often a challenge to know what emotions are ours and what emotions belong to others. Foresight and preparation can help.
Election week promises to be especially challenging.
Some Helpful Tips on How to Navigate Election Week as an Empath:
Practice energetic shielding.
Part of what empaths pick up comes from a deeper, energetic level. Election week will be a time when others’ negative energies and fears are especially strong. Shielding is an intentional practice that helps increase one’s mindfulness of not picking up others’ emotions. We can shield in many ways. Start by sitting comfortably with both your feet on the floor. Then, envision yourself surrounded by mirrors reflecting emotions back to where they belong. You can set an intention to reflect back with love, allowing the emotions that could overwhelm a person to dissipate. Another way to shield is to ask yourself, “Are these emotions really mine, or are they someone else’s?”
Zip up your field.
I start many days (today in particular) by zipping up my energy field, a classic energy-medicine practice. This protects us from negative comments, people, and emotions. Your energy runs along a central meridian. Stand up and take a breath. Beginning about a hand’s length below your belly button, make a zipping up motion from that point, up the center of your body, toward your lower lip. It will look like you are zipping up a short jacket. Repeat twice more. This shields you from energy that is not beneficial.
Practice affirmations and visualizations.
Part of the process of energetic shielding is the intention of reflecting back with love. Now let’s extend this. While this election year is especially divisive, you can maintain equanimity. Set an intention to remain true to your values and not to take on more than you can manage. Thus, your affirmation may be, “My energy is my own. I will take on only positive energies that are for my highest good,” or “I am firm in my values.”
Practice grounding with breath work.
When you are feeling on edge, it’s a feeling from being ungrounded. Grounding shifts your focus from anxious thoughts to the physical. Sit comfortably, feet on the floor. Notice the points where your body makes contact with the chair. Intentionally feel your feet on the floor. Take a deep breath in. Imagine any negative energy flowing down through your body and into Mother Earth. Be sure to keep breathing in conjunction with the grounding.
Set boundaries: inner and outer.
Boundaries allow us to separate from the things that are negative or draining to our energy. If you have oodles of Facebook friends that are election-anxious, you can choose to unfollow them, at least for the time being. You can also decline watch parties or turn off the television for as long as you need in order to regroup.
Reconnect in nature.
There is nothing more healing than nature. The earth literally emanates positive energy. Spend time in nature, walking or sitting, and take in this healing. Earthing, a process of allowing yourself to connect barefoot, is especially helpful when possible.
Take time away from being online and from doom-scrolling.