Written by: Michele Ogston, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
“I am exhausted from being stronger than I feel” – Anonymous.
I woke up the next morning not feeling like myself. I felt drained, achy, and I could even feel the beginning of a headache starting. I spent the morning pushing through my daily activities, hoping it would just pass. As the day progressed, it only got worse. Was I coming down with something?
I replayed my actions over the past few days to see if I could figure out what was causing these sensations. It felt like I was coming down with the flu! The only vivid memory I had was spending time with a friend who “really needed to talk.” I recalled leaving that conversation completely drained. I had a hard time concentrating as I drove a few blocks home. I remembered arriving home and practically falling into bed.
The next day she needed to hash it out again. I told myself that it would be okay; she really needed me. The conversation lasted longer than I had anticipated. Apparently, she really needed to empty out again. I listened, empathized, and gave advice when prompted.
It was this next morning that I woke up feeling hungover, yet I didn’t drink anything the night before. In fact, I had been on a new health kick and had been eating healthy, drinking water, and getting exercise. That’s when I realized—I had an empath hangover!
Dr. Judith Orloff writes in her book The Empath’s Survival Guide, “it's common for us to experience ‘emotional hangovers,’ an energetic residue left over from the interaction. Toxic emotions can linger long afterward, which make you feel exhausted, beset with brain-fog, or ill.”
Here are some of the signs of an empath hangover and how to treat them:
1. You are easily startled: When you have an empath hangover, your perception of what’s happening around you feels off. You are often startled easily, and people might ask, “what’s wrong?” or “why are you so jumpy?”. Try and do a quick, grounding exercise. For example, place one hand on your heart, the other on your belly, and breathe. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, and you only need to do this for 30 seconds or more.
2. You feel exhausted: You feel like you’re coming down with something, almost like having the flu. You might be achy or have a headache. Your eyes might have a hard time focusing too. You will often feel very drained, as if you have no other energy to give. Rest or take a nap if possible. This will help you hit reset. Don’t be afraid to cancel or reschedule plans. Make some time for yourself without any other distractions.
3. You have a hard time holding a conversation: Your conversation skills will be lacking. Speech and digestion are the first things your brain lets go of when you are trying to survive. This is why your tummy might feel weird, and you might have a hard time finding the right words. Your body is focusing on circulation and has let go of other tasks. Try doing a quick visualization to help you let go. Gather all your thoughts. They can be happy or sad thoughts. Imagine there are leaves gently floating in the air. Now place each of those thoughts on their own leaf and watch as a breeze carries them away. Then allow yourself to let that breeze wash over and cleanse you.
4. You feel super sensitive: You might find that everything is bothering you, or maybe things that normally don’t upset you seem to be lingering. This is also a sign that you need to hit the reset button. When possible, take a bath or a shower. Water is a natural reset for empaths. It helps wash away all the negative energy you are holding onto. When a shower or bath isn’t an option, you can listen to music with water or waves washing onto shore in the background. You can try watching a video of the ocean or water running, which can have the same effect.
5. You have a hard time making a decision: Brain fog is a real thing that happens when the brain has reached its exhaustion level. Having a hard time making a decision is an indication that you might have an empath hangover. Usually, you will notice a small decision such as what you would like to have for lunch, what shoes to wear, or if you should or shouldn’t do something. It helps to be aware when you’re having a hard time making a simple decision. This is your brain’s way of saying it needs a break. Sometimes it’s as simple as breathing. When you can, take a moment, close your eyes, and breathe. That’s it. Sometimes we forget to breathe, and our brain is lacking oxygen. This is why we yawn when we are tired. Taking a moment to take some breaths can hit the reset for your brain.
As a society, we are pretty good about watching where we could pick up germs. We wash our hands and even use hand sanitizer. We cover our mouths when we cough and sneeze away from people. We haven’t been as good about watching where we pick up negative emotions. Just like getting the flu, it’s so important to be vigilant about where we can catch an empath hangover.
Clearly, I needed to be better about who I was spending time with and how much time I allowed this person to take from me. I went home that night and turned my phone on silent. I played ocean sounds and took a shower so that I could do a mindfulness shower mediation. I made myself a healthy but small dinner, then laid on the couch to rest and watch Netflix.
The next day I felt like a brand-new woman. I was reminded that our energy is our emotional currency. It’s important to invest in the right things so that our emotional currency won’t be depleted.
Michele Ogston, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Michele Ogston is a meditation & mindfulness teacher and a certified intuitive life coach specializing in life purpose & mindset. She works with her clients to empower people never to feel stuck in life. It is her belief that by breaking the patterns that have been holding you back and rebuilding with self-love, purpose, and mindset, you can live the life you were intended. After experiencing her own loss through the death of loved ones and a painful divorce, she decided to turn her pain into passion. In addition to writing, Michele also connects with her clients through her Empath Support Group, Meditation &; Mindfulness classes, and 1:1 sessions. She owns Cloud 9 Life Coaching in Northern California, where she lives with her husband, children, and fur babies.