Although emotions are part of human life and something everyone has to live with, Empaths are known to have heightened emotions. This basically means they get upset easier than others, they feel fear and nervousness more readily, and when they get down it can take them longer to get back up. And this is one reason why so many Empaths struggle with Empath life.
But did you know there was a very big reason for the way an Empath over-feels everything?
The main aspect of being an Empath is both feeling and experiencing the emotions belonging to other people. For example, an Empath can tell when another is nervous, when one is angry or sad, just by the energy they emit.
They may enter shopping centres, or busy peopled places, and feel an array of strange sensations wash over them like a tidal wave. Again, this is because they are picking up the emotional energy of all the people in there. It is a gift, like a sixth sense, that can be used not only to help others but to navigate their way through life.
However, not all Empaths consider the ability to experience other people’s emotional energy as a gift. In fact, some would say the opposite. They feel tormented and in pain by it.
The thing is, what most Empaths don’t know is that their excessive emotional reactions are actually activated in their head.
There is a certain part of the brain called the amygdala which plays a big part in processing emotions and it is often over-activated in an Empath.
In case you’re wondering, the amygdala is a set of small almond-shaped clusters of nuclei, located deep within the brain’s temporal lobe.
It was Dr. Elaine Aron, a research psychologist, who found the amygdala to be highly activated in Sensitive people like Empaths. The more Sensitive the person the more this gland seems to work.
Dr. Aron found, through a series of trials and research, that when Sensitive people were shown pictures of human suffering the amygdala became highly activated. This in turn released hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream, which then further enticed emotional responses.
The amygdala is not a thinking part of the brain. It is a reacting part that activates when exposed to stimuli such as stress, fear or other strong emotions. It causes an automatic response known as the fight-or-flight response.
The fight-or-flight response is the body’s way of protecting us from dangerous situations. The process elevates certain hormones to give the energy and strength to run away from danger or stay and fight.
As mentioned, two of the hormones released into the body, by amygdala activation, are the stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol. These hormones increase heart rate, respiration and glucose levels. All of which are essential for increased body activity. However, they can also ignite fearful or irrational emotions and anxiety.
When the above hormones are constantly activated by the endocrine glands, courtesy of amygdala activation, and not used through body movement, etc. it can cause heightened emotional responses. This eventually puts other organs and hormones out of balance. (As well as problems within the energy body (leaky aura and blocked or excessively open chakras.)
An Empath does not need to watch another endure pain to experience suffering. Simply being in the presence of someone suffering emotionally is enough to ignite a reaction, whether the other person shows their emotions or not. An Empath feels their pain and therefore reacts. This means an Empath often overproduces adrenalin and cortisol. Both of which can eventually lead to adrenal fatigue or autoimmune conditions.
In normal situations, when a stressful situation is removed, stress levels return to normal, and the amygdala stops reacting. It is when the stress triggers do not decrease that problems arise. This is where issues can occur for the Empath.
The Empath may stop feeling other people’s emotions soon after leaving them. But this is not always the case. Some people’s emotional energy can cling to the Empath for days. Which means the amygdala is constantly activated and large amounts of unnecessary stress hormones are dumped into the body.
What to do about it?
The good news is the amygdala reaction can be controlled. My books, 7 Secrets of the Sensitive and The Eating Plan for Empaths go into greater detail on this subject, but here are some things you can be doing now.
1. Avoid triggers:
The first step to preventing unnecessary amygdala activation is to avoid known triggers. The people you know who stimulate a negative emotional response lasting more than a day should be avoided.
People who bring nothing to your life but emotional pain eventually become an Empath trauma trigger
2. Take control of your thoughts:
Because repetitive thoughts can activate the amygdala, it means Empaths have to work to keep their mind quiet or distracted. Meditating is the best way to quieten the mind. However, I know many Empaths struggle with meditation and this is where using distraction techniques work a treat. This post explains how to use distraction to your advantage and has some great Distraction Techniques.
3. Avoid stimulants and drug-like food:
Empaths react to coffee and other stimulants more than most. It is best to know your caffeine intake limits and stay within them (take note at which point you get a physical response – too much caffeine can cause shakiness, a pounding heart, flushing, faster breathing and an aching chest – and stay under the that amount). Also, drug-like food has a huge impact on triggering stress responses and should be avoided.
4. Exercise daily:
Exercise has many redeeming benefits for the Empath. In the case of amygdala activation, it helps clear excess stress hormones from the bloodstream (which would otherwise cause damage).
5. Control glucose levels through diet:
Regularly experiencing stressful emotions, your own or off others, results in extra glucose being dumped into the bloodstream (from amygdala hormone activation), the last thing an Empath needs is their diet to contribute to this problem. Avoiding sugar or foods that quickly turn into sugar in the body can prevent this from happening.
As I said, my books go into greater detail on the subject. If you are one who carries excess belly fat, your body is receiving too much glucose for its needs. This is why I wrote the book The Eating Plan for Empaths. If you want to learn more about how the right diet can transform an Empath’s life you may want to read this post.
I hope this helps you understand how your brain plays a vital part in your Empath wellbeing, and how the amygdala’s activation impacts your emotional health.
It is my belief that understanding where a problem lies is halfway to overcoming it.
**By Diane Kathrine