Navigating the Holidays as an Empath

I’ve often found that magic and sensitivity go hand-in-hand. Some of the most magical people I know, are also the most sensitive. Through the years of coming to recognize just how tender my own inner landscape can be, I’ve realized that, instead of being a hindrance, my sensitivity is actually what enables me to see those twinkle-strings of magic between things.

A lot of sensitive people go about their lives thinking that something is innately wrong with them— that they are maladjusted, asocial, or anxious by nature. But often the truth is that they are simply sensitive. And far from an innate handicap, sensitivity is actually a biological gift. As Dr. Elaine Aron highlighted in her book, The Highly Sensitive Person, studies show that high sensitivity is actually a biologically adaptive trait that occurs across all species and evolved to protect the wider community. (Aren’t sure if you’re highly sensitive? check out this quiz)

Highly sensitive people notice the small things, like the tiny rent in a sock or the wee budding head of a mushroom, or the first snowflake of winter. Evolutionarily speaking, having a highly sensitive nervous system allows you to notice subtle changes in the patterns of life around you— including the shift in wavelength that precedes real magic. Often, sensitivity and empathy go hand-in-hand. Sensitive people naturally pick up on other’s feelings, whether that “other” is a bear, a spruce tree, or the checkout person at the grocery story. As empaths, we are constantly reading the patterns that vibrate through our environments, landscapes, and human communities so that we can perceive the larger patterns of meaning.

Sensitivity is a gift. 

But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy.

The holidays can be one of the most overwhelming times of the year for those of us who are empaths, because what is often demanded of us is directly at odds with what the landscape is embodying. In the Northern hemisphere, we are entering into the heart of winter. The landscape is quiet, relishing its solitude. The stones of the earth are turning inwards, and even the sky seems more internal. This time of the year there is an urge to slow down, drink from inner wells, quiet the depths and relish the coziness of being home. And yet— these few frantic weeks in December are often anything but peaceful.

Part of my pledge, every year in December, is to do less. To say “no” to that which drains my energy, so I can say “yes” to the things that more deeply nourish my sensitivity, safeguarding my ability to connect to the subtle magic of this season. Because this time of approaching the winter solstice is full of magic. In many cultures around the world, this was considered one of the most ceremonially potent times of the year. As we enter the darkest days before the light returns, we are plunged directly into the heart of our belief in the unseen, and our willingness to tend the mystery.

When we create space for ourselves during this time— as sensitives, empaths, and beings who are constantly fine-tuning their awareness of magic— we can truly experience the inner streams of wintertime mysticism and possibility.

Over the years of creating a December time that truly feeds me, I’ve come up with a few ground rules to help nurture a truly joyful holiday season…

1. Make time to create things (rather than just consume)

Creating is so grounding. Whether it’s a gift or a good meal, creating fills the heart and belly with joy and is infinitely more fulfilling them consuming (plus, you get to avoid the mall!). This is why my Holiday Magic & Medicine Making online class is one of my all-time favorites. In the class I share my beloved at-home recipes for medicinal cordials, cookies, tea, crafts and more to help bedeck this season with joy.

2. Nurture your spiritual self

As a child, I loved the holidays. It was the only time in which it was acceptable to believe in magic, and for that I cherished it. As an adult, I love this time for the deep spirituality inherent to this season. This time of the year can be so profoundly illuminating, and yet we often let go of nurturing our own spiritual journey in order to please others or keep up with a fully booked calendar. To help balance the scales, I always work with a least one vibrational elixir or flower essence during December to help me stay connected to the thread of my own spiritual path.

3. Use your tools

Over the years I’ve developed a whole repertoire of tools to help myself navigate times of overwhelm. To help you out this season, I’ve gathered all those tools into a new video guide: Navigating the Holidays as an Empath. Watch the video below for all my favorites tips for centering myself during this busy time (and know that you are so not alone in needing to create some quietude this season).

 

 

No matter how you take care of yourself over the holidays, just remember that you, exactly as you are, are a gift to this world. And you don’t have to change a thing to be worthy of all the goodness that is here.

 

 

4 Comments

  • Asia, thank you! For some reason I’ve never embraced the idea that I might be empathic (sensitive, yes. Empathic — that’s for other people 🙂 ), and that the reason why I have trouble saying no is because I feel others’ disappointments — or can imagine feeling their disappointments — as if they were mine. The idea of forgiving myself for needing to make a boundary — and the idea that I might make a big discovery about boundary-setting by sayin ‘no’ to the thing that it is hardest to say no to really helps to turn things around. I’ve been asked to help organize an area of an event next year that on the face of it looks like it’s perfectly in my wheel house … and yet, a ‘me’ within me is kicking and screaming no, no, no, no! As I type this, I realize I have an opportunity to see who that ‘me’ is who is protesting so loudly. I think getting to know who she is, and what she is protecting will really help me to say no. I’ll be safeguarding her boundary. Winter magic to you!

    • Jane! Somehow this comment got lost in the mix! But I just wanted to say now (after all the hub-bub of the season) that I am so grateful for your words. What you shared here is profound (and struck such a chord of resonance with me… I am so curious to find out more of who I am my listening to the one that says “no” as well…) Much love to you!!

  • This is the BEST description of an empath that I’ve ever heard. Your calm energy comes across as affirming and empowering. THANK YOU!

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