Finding balance in the horrible start of 2020 – 6 tips to avoid empathy burnout

Let’s be clear, this is one of the most depressing “year starts” in many people’s lives.

I am not about to list the terrifying and heartbreaking incidents happening on this planet at this moment, however, as many others, I am thinking about the contribution I can make to help.

No matter how small and insignificant it may seem, and after donating whatever I could manage to the much deserving, I wanted to share something with the sensitive people, the logical ones, the great numbers of human beings who are not able to digest all the information of environmental catastrophe, scary political madness and individual human tragedies.

One of the hardest things to do in this era of time is to find balance between feeling the required empathy, and not being emotionally drained and mentally stressed.

Photo by Mitchell Luo on Unsplash
Photo by Mitchell Luo on Unsplash

PS: this is aimed to help overly sensitive and empathetic people, those kind souls that are sensitive to the point of self damaged, you are not alone.

5 Tips to avoid stress and depression in this crucial time:

1- Don’t feel guilty about self-care:

You need to be calm, logical, emotionally stable, optimistic and internally healed, in order to be able to help others.

That’s why you need to shake off the guilt, the first thing you need to tell yourself is that this is not your fault. yes the same way you tell a 7 year old child that his/her/their parents’ divorce is not any of their fault.

An empathetic, sensitive person is someone who has the ability to feel from the depth of their heart, doubt themselves, care for what is happening around them, and not able to shrug their shoulders in the face of a neighbor’s or a fellow creature’s distress.

As much as empathy is important and vital, we have to keep it from crippling us, as the people who posses the ability to feel empathy are the ones who do good in this world, you need to take care of yourself while the world needs you the most.

That deep rooted guilt or frustration for knowing you can’t save the planet should be released from your insides. you can save many by being strong and logical and caring, you can’t make the difference you are ought to make if you are weak and depressed.

Take some time for yourself, whether it’s on a yoga mat or with friends or on a nice trip, don’t judge yourself for being at ease when you are doing whatever you can to help.

In conclusion, you want to be proud of your empathy not become a burnout because of it.


2- Small help, small things, small contributions matter:

Those 5 $ you were able to donate this week do matter.

The visit you managed to a care home do matter.

The pet you have rescued do matter.

The long talk you had with a depressed friend do matter.

The helping hand you extended to a family member do matter.

That plastic usage reduction you achieved last month do matter.

EVERY single little thing you do for good do matter, humanity is a like a huge Lego arrangement, every little piece makes difference. you may not be as powerful, as rich, or as influential as others, but the good you do is vital, important and noticeable.

No act of kindness is too small, it’s not worth it to feel depressed for not being able to do more, when you are already doing all you can do. you are fulfilling most of the duty you have as a human, by simply being the best version you can be in terms of kindness, and spreading that kindness around.

3- Find the right crowd to be with:

When you are an overly sensitive person, surrounded by overly sensitive people, it could get a bit overwhelming. on the other hand, when you are an overly sensitive person, existing in a crowd of self-centered, entitled and non caring or superficial people, it could be destructive.

My blog is about finding balance, it’s my new found purpose in life, after years and years of thinking, contemplating, reading and thinking again, the one concept I could relay on to tie up all of my scattered thoughts and messy emotions is Balance, it’s the keyword, the theory of everything for me in this life.

So going back to the crowd issue, balance is what we seek, if you are not in the state of being able to create that balance, then you need to surround yourself with people who provide it.

If I am angry with my husband/friend/sister for something I know I have exaggerated because of my PMS, I don’t go to someone who hypes me up to exaggerate even more, I go to a person who would be calm and rationalize me.

The same thing applies here, if you are overly sensitive, the best cure is being with people who are also sensitive, so they can respect your feelings “not call you a drama queen” for caring about real issues.

But not as overly sensitive as you are, to drag each other through emotional fatigue to the point of reaching empathy burnout.

4- Spend time with pets/children AKA innocent creatures:

No good balanced crowd around. no problem, reach to your pet. you don’t have a pet, get a pet.

Spend time with your children, or any children you feel for if not yours, simply being around an innocent animal or a newborn will provide a much needed calmness. cuddle them, smell them, give them kisses and hold their tiny hands/paws.. you will find peace, you will remember why this world still deserves a chance, and why you need to stay on your feet.

My warm snuggle and stress reliever – Zeus

5- Don’t skip on your personal “new year’s resolutions”:

No need to skip your yearly dose of optimism and that “fresh start” feeling due to global news. maybe you can insert a goal or two relating to making the world a better place, but don’t skip the whole process, and if you don’t usually do it, start now. heck 2020 seems as good as any year, if not better, to have a list of good resolutions and goals. remember:

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.

William H. McRaven.

Maybe not your bed per say, just start from the closest place to you, granted, the closest place to me is often my bed.

6- Look up any feeling you are having:

I have struggled with phone anxiety for years, I had trouble speaking on the phone in front of anyone. my heart raced a bit when the phone rang. I will write about this intensively some other time, but for now I am giving an example of something I had and never thought it was out there, diagnosed and many people are familiar with it.

A simple research could not fix the problem of course, you still need healing, but simply knowing it wasn’t something that only exists in my imagination, and not that strange and embarrassing was a huge step for overcoming it.

This is my small contribution for today, my attempt to balance my feelings after the morning “news feed scroll”, which was a huge mistake.

Which reminds me to share with you an additional tip:

Know what you are following on social media, put down the phone for a couple of hours everyday to walk, cook, read, watch a good movie or even nap. whatever you need to have a short escape from the gigantic amount of information we get with each scroll.

You need that more than you think.

Thank you for getting here, and thank you for being a decent human.


Published by Haya Sharani

An employee, entrepreneur, wife, friend, cat-mom, and very interested in mental health and psychology tactics.

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