empath burnout

Why Empaths Experience Burnout Like No Other

20 May 2019 | by Gina Lucia

Experiencing burnout isn’t something only empaths experience. Every person, no matter what type of personality you have, can experience burnout in some shape or form. Empath burnout, however, takes a slightly different form.

So before we take a look at why you might experience burnout as an empath, let’s address what an empath actually is.

What’s an empath?

Put simply, an empath is a person who experiences a great deal of empathy. Often taking on the emotional pain of others at their own expense.

At the same time, empaths feel deeply, they experience the world with keen sensitivity and often ‘see’ things others may overlook.

Empath burnout triggers

So let’s address what empath burnout might look like. Your average burnout is usually a reaction to prolonged overwork and stress which leaves you feeling exhausted, demotivated and lacking in self-worth.

However, we’re talking about empath burnout here which is usually a reaction to:

  • Over-stimulation
  • Excessive exposure to emotionally draining environments or even news/conversations
  • Over-exposure to other people’s problems

If you’re an empath, then some of these situations might seem familiar:

  • You feel completely drained after trying to help a friend with their life problems
  • Your emotions get the better of you after being in an environment filled with grieving people
  • You’re exhausted after spending a prolonged amount of time in an overstimulating environment like a sports game or party

Any of the above can result in empath burnout. Essentially, you’ve either absorbed too much of other people’s feelings, or you’ve allowed yourself to be so overstimulated that you become physically and mentally exhausted.

How to avoid empath burnout

Sensory overload is a daily problem for many empaths, without a filter in which to shield us, we feel everything, good and bad, that comes our way. This means loud noises are louder, crowds are busier, arguments are painful and a friend’s pain becomes your own.

If this sounds like you, then you have an opportunity to fine-tune your life to create a calmer, positive space for your mind.

Pre-plan for overstimulation

If you’re here, it means you’re aware that you’re an empath.

Because you’re self-aware, that also means that you’ll be able to know in advance, when you might be overstimulated.

For example, if you’re about to go to a friend’s house who has just gone through a breakup, or you’re preparing to go to a funeral, you know you’re about to be hit hard with emotion.

Now’s the time to get into the right mindset. Yes, you’ll want to protect the people you love and make them feel better, but you also need to make sure you’re not taking on other people’s burden.

Make a note to check in with yourself every now and then while there and make sure to plan for some relaxing alone-time afterwards to reset yourself.

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Beware of toxic relationships

As an empath, it’s incredibly hard to avoid the empathy you feel for others. Nor should you, it’s what makes you, you.

But if you’re spending your time with people who drain that energy and don’t give anything back, then you may need to reconsider where you’re spending your time.

As an introvert and an empath, the friends I make are few but incredibly important. However, I’ve had ‘friends’ who either absorbed my empathy in return for nothing or chipped away at it until the stress became too much.

Don’t let these types of toxic relationships rule you, work to move past them, and then spend your time on the relationships that help you thrive.

Cultivate empathy for yourself

As empaths, it’s in our nature to put others first, especially when we feel like those other people need our help. But if you’re also prone to people-pleasing, it becomes very easy to put yourself last.

In fact, as a society (especially in the UK), we idolise people who put the wellbeing of others above themselves. While helping others is a wonderful way to live, it should not be done at the expense of yourself.

Make sure to regularly check in with your own needs and emotions. Are you using your wonderful empathic skills and applying them to you?

If not, make this your new goal. We all know the saying “put your oxygen mask on first”, it may be cliche, but it’s true. So check in with yourself first, before checking in with others. Fellow empath, you deserve it.

Are you an empath? Would you add anything to this article? Leave us a comment below and let us know what helps you thrive in daily life.

empath burnout triggers
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Featured image by Chris Yang

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  1. Sharon Ledwith

    23rd April 2020 at 8:23 PM

    Thanks for this great post, Gina! Growing up, people-pleaser was my middle name. On top of being an INFJ, it’s been tough to navigate the emotion ocean out there, but I’ve grown so much. Appreciate your input! Stay well!

    • Gina Lucia

      24th April 2020 at 9:33 AM

      Ah yes, I’ve been the same. Also an INFJ but I think as we grow we learn and adapt and become more self-aware.

  2. Casey B

    18th September 2020 at 11:45 PM

    I need help with severe burnout.

  3. Frank Gallagher

    17th November 2020 at 11:39 PM

    Hi Gina, looks like you found out relatively early in your life that you are an empath. My name is Frank Gallagher (Dublin, Ireland) and I am a young-at-heart 62 year old. I only discovered in the last 3 years that I am an empath. I took on board the pain of a work colleague (35 at the time) whose marriage went after about a year. I cared so much for her that I felt her pain deep inside me and I only slept 2 to 3 hours each night for about 15 months. I couldn’t take the stress any longer so I retired and after about 3 weeks, I totally crashed with chronic fatigue. I am only now slowly beginning to come out of it. I have accepted it because it was a direct result of caring deeply for the girl. Sounds like you are able to navigate around being an empath and all its implications. I wish I had learned about this years ago but better late than ever. Take care. Frank

    • Gina Lucia

      18th November 2020 at 2:41 PM

      Wow what a story Frank, I’m glad you’re figuring it all out now!


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