How to Manage Empath Burnout

How do you manage burnout as an empath? There’s a lot happening out there in the world right now that is really hard, sad, scary to witness, and hard to experience. What this means is,  if you are an empath, there’s a lot happening inside you.  Even if it’s not happening to you. 

Quite often we underestimate the impact of the energy we internalize, absorb, mirror, reflect, channel, and connect to because we can’t put our finger on what or why.  

Sometimes we try to come up with or attach reasons to what we are already feeling—to make what we’re feeling more valid, to make us feel less crazy. It can be really overwhelming to have all these big feelings and not know where they are coming from, what they are asking of us, or how to move through them. 

In our previous blog, we talked about how to feel our feelings, and that may be a good place to start. People that are experiencing burnout have usually moved beyond their ability to cope. We usually find that support is needed when strategies to maintain baseline energy levels no longer work. 

So how do you know if you’re experiencing burnout?

Signs of Burnout

You don’t need to have all of these symptoms to be burnt out, and having a few of them doesn’t mean that you’re there either. These are stress responses that can happen to all of us. But doing some honest reflection of how many resonate, how often, and how intensely will give you a sense of where your heart is and what you might need to look at right now. 

  • Lack of empathy (for an empath, this is the clearest and obvious sign of burnout) 
  • Fatigue
  • Overwhelm
  • Agitation
  • Shutting Down/ Dissociation/ Numbness
  • Feeling like a Martyr/Victim
  • Despair/Hopelessness
  • Getting sick
  • Making mistakes/Missing stuff you normally handle with ease
  • Comfort/Soothing/Maintenance tools not working
  • Turning to escape behaviors/comfort sources to a degree you typically don’t (food, alcohol, electronics, etc.)

It’s OK

If you resonate with this list and perhaps found yourself in tears reading through it, take a big breath. It’s ok there’s nothing wrong with you. Shame is one of the main responses empaths have when feeling depleted. Shame for not being, having or doing enough. 

Acknowledging burnout doesn’t mean we did anything wrong or that we need to work harder to do better. It means that the energy out there we are tuned into is bigger at this moment than our container. It means we need to pause and turn to care and feel for ourselves the way we care and feel for others. 


Self-care gets a bad rap as a sort of fluffy, idealistic, cliched prescription for a pedicure. The more burnt out we get, the more we eye roll at the term “self-care.” We push it to the bottom of the list of all the other needs, and we schedule over it to get things done.

Without the right methods and frequency of self-care, we accumulate external energy. Full of external energy, we neglect filling up with our own nourishing, restorative energy that helps balance the heavier stuff.  We may not know what the right methods are for us if we never learned or we didn’t live in a belief system that supported us doing it. 

Radical Self-Care

When we hit the point of burnout, we are actually in need of radical self-care. 

Radical self-care is a determined commitment to our integrity, our authenticity, and our heart, that says we are deserving of impeccable care and compassion. Radical self-care is non-negotiable, unapologetic, and empowered. It is our acknowledgment that if we are not taking care of ourselves adequately, we are not showing up in the world as our true selves. If we are not showing up in the world as our true selves, we owe it to ourselves and others to attend to that immediately.

There’s nothing fluffy about that. 

Burnout First Aid

If we are coming from a place of burnout, the most important thing we can do for self-care is to stop moving. Pull our energy in and hold space for ourselves. Rest, cancel engagements, and unplug. 

During times of burnout, it’s important to let go of the things that are not essential, just for a time. Commit to one simple thing that is nourishing for us, that fills us up without a lot of effort. Tend to ourselves as if we are children home sick from school or recovering from a physical illness. That may be what we end up dealing with if we don’t stop and attend here. 


What’s hard about all of this is that good self-care requires some level of self-love, self-worth, self-compassion, and self-acceptance. And on top of all of that, practice, practice, practice. 

Understand that it can be a tall order if you don’t have support around you that believes in you and encourages you. Or if you have a lot of wounds in these areas that get in your way. 

If you can, try to identify one person in your life that you feel safe with and ask them to be your cheerleader. If that’s not available, consider seeing counseling or working with a coach that can encourage and hold space for you. We all need that sometimes. 


Further reading:

I Don’t Want To Be An Empath Anymore, Ora North

Burnout, Emily Nagoski, and Amelia Nagoski