Empaths vs. HSP’s: What’s the Difference, and Are You One or Both of These?
You can listen to the Podcast Version of this article below where I also discuss my own journey as an Empath and HSP. There is always more personal material in the podcast than the article.
If you have any sort of interest in human psychology in the new age, then you have probably come across the term “empath.”
“Empath” is the word used to describe someone who has empathy, or is naturally able to read and take on the feelings of other people.
Many people use the terms empath and introvert interchangeably, though they may not necessarily be the same thing. Empaths do tend to be introverted or inwardly focused. Mainly this is due to feeling overwhelmed with sensitivity to the feelings of others, and needing to detach from that as a way to regulate your own nervous system.
Another popular term, HSP, stands for Highly Sensitive Person, and this is often (but not always) related to being empathic or able to easily pick up on and absorb the feelings and moods of other people. Many books have been written recently on the topic of being an HSP or Highly Sensitive, (Empathic) Person.
Highly Sensitive People tend to have their sensory dial turned way up for most of the time. If you’re someone who reacts unfavorably to loud noises, bright lights, crowds and stimulation (a tag rubbing against your skin) then you are likely what the psychology world refers to as an “HSP.” HSP’s also have an extremely deep connection to nature and animals.
Most empathic and/or Highly Sensitive People tend to walk around feeling overwhelmed by all that they take in with their senses at any given moment. They deeply connect with the emotional reactions of other people. They are highly tuned in to body language, volume, inflection, vocal tone, and other nonverbals, to the point that socializing and/or emotionally charged situations can feel overwhelming and almost threatening to them at times.
Empaths and HSPs often feel like a horse of a different color… and they may sense that other people lack patience with them, or aren’t able to offer the type of calm comfort that they require to feel safe and at ease.
Empaths and HSPs desire real-life solutions to help them fit in better, feel understood, and most of all have their privacy and their sensitive nature respected and appreciated.
Are you someone like this? Whether you think of yourself as an empath, an HSP, or both, you’ll likely in need of coping skills.
Self-Care for Empaths and HSPs
As an empathic person, have you ever been called an “old soul?” Indeed the extra intuitive gift that you naturally possess can make you wise beyond your years. But it can also leave you with a world-weary constitution and sagging spirits at times.
More than other people, empaths and Highly Sensitive People have a need to replenish their depleted energy or calm their ruffled nerves. It’s difficult for these naturally sensitive folk to ever fully relax and turn down the signals that they’re constantly picking up from other people who might need their help or support.
It’s okay to want to be responsive to other people’s problems. However, self care is extremely important to empathic people, who can become easily overwhelmed and wrung-out on sensory and emotional overload.
Let’s discuss some helpful tips on how to ease your vexed nervous system as an HSP or empath:
Take magnesium baths. Mineral deficiency is tied to an overactive nervous system. One way to calm your reactive nature is by replenishing lost electrolytes, which are minerals. Magnesium is one such mineral that easily absorbs through the skin. Epsom salt baths deliver a soothing magnesium soak that promises a good night’s rest, and a more optimistic tomorrow.
Calm the stomach. Did you know that the vagus nerve connects the brain to the stomach, and it’s theorized that when one is agitated, the other follows, by way of this nerve? Ease digestion and lessen sensitivity by taking probiotics, drinking bone broth, and avoiding spicy foods several hours before bedtime.
Practice yoga. Yoga is one of the best ways to reset the nervous system, and it’s a gentle form of stretching exercise that you can do at home whenever it’s convenient. Stretch the muscles, regulate your breaths, and increase blood flow to various parts of the body. All of these will greatly reduce anxious feelings and tone down your sensitive nature by relieving stress.
Enjoy a professional massage every now and again. Massage is one of the most relaxing and cleansing things you can do for your body. Don’t be surprised if, after a good, deep massage, your nervous nature as an empath has abated considerably.
Pound the pavement. Running is a high-impact exercise that can help an empath ease anxious feelings, get a good night’s rest, and look and feel better. Even just a half-hour of light jogging per day makes a huge difference.
These are just a few ways that you can help your unregulated nervous system calm down and regulate so that you can start to heal other aspects of your life.
Sending you lots of love along your healing journey.
If you are interested in working with me for 1:1 Sessions, you can apply for a Heal Your Story Strategy Session.
You may also find interest in the other article about HSP’s: Are You a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?
And there is a great podcast about Empaths and Narcissists and their attraction to each other: Ep 84 Empaths and Narcissists — What Is the Draw?