Current Event’s Effect on an Empath’s Mental Health

I am what you call a highly sensitive person or an empath. These types of people are highly attuned to the emotions of others, have a hard time blocking out the emotions of others, and often are adversely affected by the negative moods of other people. Being in a large crowd of people is exhausting for me especially if it’s in a type of setting where emotions run high like a large church gathering or a wedding reception or a funeral. Even something as simple as a medium-sized family gathering is too overwhelming for me at times because the social dynamics are often too tension-filled for my empathic tendencies to handle.

Unfortunately, I don’t even have to be face to face with people in order to be affected by their emotions. Reading comments on social media, watching news stories on the television, or hearing people talk about current events on the radio or podcasts, all affect my emotions and mood.

As you can imagine, the past couple months with the pandemic and all of its complications and discussions and controversies over whether people should wear a mask or not or whether people should still be staying home or not or whether businesses should be opening or not have had a negative effect on my emotional stability.

But now, even more so, with racial tensions running high due to the death of George Floyd, my mental health stability has been pushed beyond its breaking point and I find myself feeling anxious and depressed and worried and upset and at times filled with despair about a situation in which there seems to be no viable solution.

I am not black, so I do not wish to take away from anything the black population is going through right now. I am a person with severe mental illness who is going through something, not the same as what they’re going through, but something negative due to the racism and hate currently brewing in the United States.

I don’t know what to do with these horrible emotions that come about from witnessing the hate and racism and conflict going on between the citizens of this country except to block it out from time to time by signing out of my social media accounts and turning off the television so as to not listen to the news reports. It seems to be the only way to protect myself from all the negativity, because I can’t seem processes it in a healthy manner if I let any of it in otherwise.

Does anyone else out there have this issue as a highly sensitive person? How do you deal with it? What coping skills do you use to manage the emotions that come up from witnessing the hatred and violence that are going on in our nation right now without becoming filled with anxiety and despair?

4 thoughts on “Current Event’s Effect on an Empath’s Mental Health

  1. Honestly, this is something I struggle with myself. I’m still trying to figure out ways to manage this but taking some time out of my day to practice mindfulness has helped a little with this issue. Best of luck and thank you for sharing!

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  2. I definitely feel you on this. I’m highly sensitive as well, and even in normal times that can be challenging, but the last several months have been especially so. I agree with Brittany on the power of mindfulness — it has been a lifesaver for me over the years. Also being really intentional about the news I consume and knowing when I need to take a step back to recharge. I think it’s important to stay informed, but you can easily over do it. Finally, I think if you can find some way to get involved in positive change (there are a lot of ways to volunteer right now, including remotely) whether that’s by helping a local food pantry or organizing to get out the vote in November, that can be a great way to combat the despair.

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    • Great ideas, Jennifer. Getting outside of ourselves by volunteering is a great distraction to the current stressors and can help us to feel better about things. Bring us around the good in the world. Show us it is still there! ☺️

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