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HSP Empath, Personal

Healing Emotional Fatigue as an HSP

I recently wrote about decluttering my life of things in my last post about self-reflection. In the past few weeks, while it felt empowering to rid myself of material possessions, I discovered I need a digital detox from social media as well!

I recently started noticing significantly more anxiety when completing daily tasks. My tolerance levels are exhausted, my patience is thin and I cannot shake my brain fog.

I tend to neglect myself as most empaths/HSPs will admit. I put my rest on the backburner to ensure everyone/thing is good. This has led to two instances of severe burnout in the past.

In 2017, I had the most intense burnout I have ever experienced. My family was dealing with some really tough issues that included a family member(s) use of drugs, homelessness and suicide attempts. This put a lot of pressure on me and my siblings to rally in support. It left me drained, sleepless and 15lbs weaker.

This all led to severe anxiety and adrenal fatigue, which I am currently recovering from. I have been consistently working on eating, sleeping and Naturopathic medicine to heal myself from all that mental anguish.

HSP Overstimulation

I didn’t learn about my empath traits until I attended counseling in 2017/2018 for my last bout of exhaustion. At first I was skeptical, although all my life I’ve been told, “I’m too sensitive” or “too shy” especially when I was younger. However, after reading and doing my homework discoveries have led to recovery. With that being said, old habits are difficult to break. One in particular is practicing self-care.

I can remember my dad saying when I was 3 or 4 years old that once I was done playing or tired I was a living terror. I would become an emotional mess. This was just a result of playing with a friend who came over. I even had the most horrible dreams where I ran from my room to hide in my dad’s arms at night. Sobbing and shaking from being overstimulated.

Looking back a lot of things make so much sense now. Emotions are tricky when they go unchecked. Especially if you don’t understand why these emotions are so strong!

Research states that my brain deals with dopamine and sensory neurons differently. HSP’s tend to have highly active mirror neurons which is why we have a higher sense of empathy as well as overstimulated emotions.


SPS is a trait associated with greater sensitivity and responsiveness to the environment and social stimuli, and it’s found in roughly 20% of humans and over 100 other species. Researchers have found that individuals with high SPS are strongly affected by other people’s moods, but no study has looked at how their neural systems respond.


A study found that 18 participants (10 females) with positive, negative, or neutral facial expressions were more likely to have SPS (measured by the standard short-form Highly Sensitive Person [HSP] scale). A year apart, 13 of the 18 participants got scanned twice.


In all conditions, HSP scores were associated with more activity in the cingulate and premotor areas. Both happy and sad photo conditions activated SPS brain regions (e.g., cingulate, insula, inferior frontal gyrus, middle temporal gyrus, and PMA).

The highly sensitive brain: an fMRI study of sensory processing sensitivity and response to others’ emotions from NIH

Finding a Way to Heal

Two very significant resources have been instrumental in guiding me on this crazy path of discovery. Dr. Elaine Aron and Dr. Judith Orloff. Without these two resources I would probably be hiding in the mountains as a recluse.

Recently, I’ve felt the need to journal more. I have been taking a notebook around or transcribing in One Note to ease some of my emotional exhaustion and calm my monkey thoughts. Another habit I’m trying to incorporate is keeping up on this blog.

I want this to be a place to share with others. Keeping things honest, vulnerable and transparent. God knows we need to be more kind to others and ourselves in this crazy world.

Sensitive The Untold Story trailer (2020)

Characteristics of an HSP/Empath

My highly sensitive nature makes me a deep thinker. It’s easy to get lost in my thoughts most of the day. I could write blockbuster Hollywood movies if I put all the imaginative scenarios in my head in writing!

I’m learning that deep thinking is a gift and not a curse. I realize it raises my consciousness, makes me understand others’ perspectives, and empathy helps me gain a deeper understanding and awareness of consequences.

Feeling Emotions Stronger and More Intense

Another thing I’m learning how to deal with is emotional intensity. Lord knows I have trouble with all these highs and lows. It’s why I prefer to watch movies by myself because I will literally break down; i.e., the movie Togo left me devastated for two days!

Highly sensitive people are particularly prone to overstimulation, because they process things more deeply than other people. Research suggests that their brains process everything in their environment on a deep level, essentially taking note of — and thinking about — every little thing. 

With my recent bout of chronic overstimulation I have been sleeping more than normal. Yet, Im still exhausted throughout the day. It has become the opposite of just a few years ago when I wouldn’t sleep more than 3-4 hours a night.

My muscles and joints ache too which is another sign I’m noticing. Plus, I can forget irritability, impatience and craving sweets! Crying has increased again as well. Lots of emotions literally pouring out of my face.

Just blogging about this I already have such a deeper sense of peace and understanding. This is a good thing!

Creativity, Nature and Animals are My Minds Escape

I’ve always known my passions and blessings are my best escape. The tranquility and beauty of being in nature, along with my horses/dogs, has always helped me lose the overwhelm and anxiety.

Recently, I added fluid art to my therapeutic mindfulness practice. This engagement with fluid art is a way of letting go and releasing control. The paint magically breathes life into a mysterious beauty that mesmerizes me. I cant wait to dive deeper and start sharing that process as well.

Morning Practice for a Calm Day

Despite all the overstimulation and fatigue. The last few weeks have been a welcome change. The price of hay is absolutely nuts, so I’ve been hiking down to the river property to let the horses graze. I’ve always known that we can live a more self sufficient lifestyle and this is a step I’ve been meaning to take for a while now.

Not only am I spending more time with our horses, but it presents a new opportunity for photography. The morning light on the river is stunning. Mountains, skies and wildlife wake from slumber. This gives me a chance to break old patterns of rushing to my office to work. The beauty of the rising sun has been awakening my inner calm.

Social Media/Digital Detox

Over the next few weeks, I hope to start blogging and continuing my journal. Staying off of social media is also a way to help reduce overstimulation and sensory overload.

I have no excuse not to be enlightened and healed. It’s my hope that this little space can spark an awakening for someone else out there who’s feeling lost within themselves.

Remember, we’re here to help, inspire and lift each other up. In a world full of reaching hands to pull us out of our most dire situations, no one should ever feel alone.

By AniT, May 27, 2023

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