How to Survive the Holidays As An Empath

The holidays are a challenge! Growing up, there was a lot of tension on the holidays. My family’s emotional habits left me drained, and I learned to guard myself with alone time. The holidays are particularly challenging, because everyone’s emotions are heightened. The empath’s super power is feeling the emotional states of others. Without careful attention, the empath is like a radio constantly picking up different signals. 

While I no longer have to lock myself away or feel emotionally exhausted, it took me a long time to stay centered while connecting with others. 

What’s mine and what’s yours? When someone feels happy, the empath feels that happiness; when someone feels frustrated, the empath feels that frustration too. This gift allows us to connect to others. We can offer compassion when we know how others are feeling. However, in order to stay balanced, the gift that connects us needs to be redirected to our own internal states, otherwise the empath is at the mercy of whoever they’re close to. 

Start with a self check-in.  Self check-in can take less than 2 minutes. This practice should be done several times a day until it becomes automatic. Begin by closing your eyes. (If closing the eyes is not available, that’s ok too.)

  • Let your mind ask your body “how am I feeling?” Maybe you notice feeling light, joyful, heavy, frustrated, etc. Take belly breath, then exhale.
  • Next inquire “where in my body am I feeling this?” You may notice your jaw clenching, gripping in the hands, low back tension. Make note of any places that jump out.

Connect the breath with visualization. Once you do the self check-in, now you can begin to move energy with breathing and visualization. Breathing is an easy way to regulate our emotional state. A simple visualization assists in moving stress. Practice this technique regularly and you will be able to quickly center yourself during higher intensity times. 

  1. Bring your awareness to the place in your body where you feel tension or negative emotion.
  2. Imagine your full awareness in that spot. Sense whatever emotion you feel in that area. 
  3. Imagine breathing in golden light and let it swirl into that area.
  4. Imagine exhaling dark or murky colors.
  5. Do this for 5-10 rounds of breath.
  6. Watch or feel how the colors, feelings, or emotions move.
  7. Check in again: how am I feeling? 
  8. Let the mind ask the body: “what do I need right now?” Whatever answer pops up, that’s what your body wants! 
  9. If you can, honor the answer. Take a walk, stretch, drink some water, or do whatever your body is asking for!
  10. As a general rule: use the belly and the nose to breathe; shallow or jagged breathing is agitating; longer exhales are calming; and longer inhales energize us. 

These practices are deceptively simple. The more you practice this technique, the stronger the foundation will become for staying centered and staying grounded when you need it most. Remember, your highly sensitive nature is an asset! That same compassion you offer others can be directed towards yourself as well. Enjoy the holiday season for all the reasons you love.

If you need extra support around the holidays, Reiki is a wonderful way to let go of anxiety and recharge. Caroline works in person and distantly. Her office is located in Northampton, MA and has office hours Monday-Wednesday, including daytime and evening hours. Reach out with questions at

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