Since I wrote my last post, Traits of the Sensitive, I decided to do a little research on the amygdala, the part of the brain which Dr. Elaine Aron, a research psychologist, found to be highly activated in Sensitives. I wanted to know what health implications it may have on the Empaths, by its constant activation.
Here’s what I found:
The amygdala is a set of small almond-shaped clusters of nuclei, located deep within the brain’s temporal lobe, which plays a huge part in processing emotions. The more aggressive the emotion the more responsive the amygdala becomes, and is responsible for triggering the stress response hormones.
Aron found, through a series of trials and research, when Sensitives were shown pictures of human suffering the amygdala was activated. This in turn released hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which further enticed emotional responses.
The amygdala is not a thinking part of the brain. It is a reacting part which activates when exposed to stimuli such as stress, fear or other strong emotions. It causes an automatic response known as the fight-or-flight response.
The fight-or-flight response is the body’s way of protecting us from dangerous situations. The process elevates hormones to give the energy and strength to run away from danger or stay and fight.
Two of the hormones released into the body, by amygdala activation, are adrenalin and cortisol. These hormones increase heart rate, respiration and glucose levels. All of which are essential for increased body activity. When these hormones are constantly activated, by the endocrine glands (courtesy of amygdala activation), and not used it has a knock-on-effect. This eventually puts other organs out of balance and leads to illnesses such as heart disease, adrenal fatigue and diabetes.
An Empath does not need to watch another endure pain to experience suffering. Simply being in the presence of someone carrying disturbed emotions is enough to set off a reaction, whether the other person shows the emotions or not. This means the Empath may overproduce adrenalin and cortisol.
In normal situations, when a stressful situation is removed stress levels return to normal and the amygdala stops activation. It is when the stress triggers do not decrease that problems arise. This is where health issues can occur for the Empath.
Empaths don’t get away from stressful emotions easily. Not only do they have to deal with their own day-to-day stresses but that of others too.
The Empath may stop feeling others’ emotions soon after leaving them. But this is not always the case. Some emotional energy clings for days after exposure (see this post to learn more). This means the amygdala is constantly activated and large amounts of unnecessary hormones are dumped into the body.
So what can we do about it?
1. Avoid triggers: The first step we can take in preventing unnecessary amygdala activation is to avoid known triggers. The people you know who stimulate a negative emotional response (see post here) lasting more than a day should be avoided.
The amygdala is a defence mechanism activated by emotional responses. It can also be triggered by emotional memories.
People who bring nothing to your life but emotional pain eventually become an Empath trauma trigger.
2. Control your mind and thoughts: Keep the mind quiet to stop unnecessary amygdala activation from thoughts, read post here
3. Avoid stimulants: Sensitives react to coffee and other stimulants more than most. It is best to know your caffeine intake limits and stay within them (take note at which point you get a physical response – too much caffeine can cause shakiness, pounding heart, flushing, faster breathing and an aching chest – and stay under the that amount). Drug-like food also has a huge impact on an Empath brain (read more) and should be avoided
4. Exercise daily: Exercise has many redeeming benefits for the Empath. In the case of amygdala activation, it helps clear excess stress hormones, which would otherwise cause damage, from the bloodstream.
5. Control glucose levels through diet: Regularly experiencing stressful emotions, your own or off others’, results in extra glucose being dumped into the bloodstream (from amygdala hormone activation), the last thing an Empath needs is their diet to contribute to this problem. Avoiding sugar or sugar-forming foods can prevent this from happening.
If you are one who carries excess belly fat, your body is receiving too much glucose for its needs. This is a clear sign of Empath imbalances. If you want to learn more about how the right diet can transform an Empath’s life you may want to read this post.
I hope this post helped you understand how your brain plays a vital part in your Empath wellbeing, and how the amygdala’s activation impacts your emotional health. If you want to learn more about the ways Empaths are affected by the energy of others click on the attached links above.
Hope all is keeping really well in your Empath corner of the world…
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©Diane Kathrine at Empaths Empowered
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