If you’re an empath, you’re likely in “overwhelm” mode more often than not.
Being able to sense other people’s emotions is great when it comes to supporting them, but when you’re feeling said emotions as though they’re your own, it’s another situation entirely.
…and if you’re constantly in an environment where you’re surrounded by a lot of people, you’ll feel everything they feel, and end up having a complete meltdown.
(I’m an empath too, so I’m writing this with firsthand experience.)
We know that a lot of alone time and self care are needed to decompress, let go of other people’s emotions, and ground ourselves.
Actually, all of that isn’t just needed: it’s absolutely vital.
Being in nature is one of the most calming things an empath can do for our own well-being: emotional, spiritual, and even physical.
Why nature? Well, for several reasons, all of which we’re about to delve into.
1. Sensitive To Everything: Not Just Emotions
The average empath doesn’t just pick up on (and feel) other people’s emotions — most of us are hypersensitive to all kinds of physical stimuli as well.
Noise, bright lights, strong scents, and textures are just a few things that can overwhelm us.
Many of us also have food or environmental allergies, and we can become ill after being exposed to certain chemicals.
Being out in nature resets us. Since we’re not being barraged by noise, artificial lighting, and other people’s perfume from all directions, our senses can return to their natural, neutral setting.
Neutral scents, fewer loud sounds and obnoxious lights, no massive throngs of people walling us in… no wonder so many of us prefer to live in environments that are as natural as possible! Anything else is just excruciating.
2. Stillness And Silence Allow Us To Feel Our Own Emotions: Not Everyone Else’s
Many empaths have difficulty discerning whether the emotions we’re feeling are our own.
Just about any empathic person you’ll meet will experience times when they’re fraught with anxiety, stress, or sorrow, but can’t tell you why.
More often than not, it’s because we’ve picked up on what people around us are feeling, and manifest those emotions and stresses as our own. We literally take on other people’s suffering.
When we’re out in nature, all of that stops.
We can bask in all of that beauty without being pummeled with other people’s issues from all directions.
Once we’re free from everyone else’s emotional barrage, we have the time and space to think about and process our own emotions.
Our problems generally take a back seat to those we care about, as we tend to hold space for them and help them through their issues instead of putting our own needs first and foremost.
This space, this desperately needed alone time in peace and quiet, allows us to check in with ourselves.
We can journal, or even just sit in silence and think about various aspects of our lives.
We have the space to go over everything from contentment with our personal relationships to career satisfaction. No interruptions, no neediness.
Just us, and our own thoughts and feelings.
3. It Feels Like “Home”
Nature rejuvenates us on countless levels, but for empaths in particular, there’s a sense of wholeness; of being “home.”
Unlike pretty much everywhere else, a natural environment is devoid of all the things that hammer into us on a daily basis. There’s no negativity. No potential emotional triggers (including hateful comments on social media).
It’s said that the average person today is exposed to more news than someone in the Victorian era would have read in an entire year…
…considering how much of that news is devastating and painful, it’s small wonder why empaths are so overwhelmed.
When you’re in nature, there’s none of that.
There may be deer nibbling on cedar trees nearby, or birds that will come close and eat seeds from your hands.
In spring and summer, wildflowers abound, and there’s a symphony of leaf hues once autumn rolls around.
Wintertime is even quieter, when snow blankets the world and all that can be heard is the crackle of logs in a fireplace, and pages being turned as you read.
There is peace.
For some, being in a natural environment feels more like “home” than any domestic situation we’ve ever experienced. There’s no need to draw forth energy to be social with others: we can be utterly authentic.
4. Most Of Us Get Along Really Well With Animals
A huge benefit to spending time in nature is getting to hang out with animals.
Very few people are truly able to love unconditionally, but animals seem to have no problem doing this. If you’ve ever had an incredibly close bond with a furry or feathered companion, you know exactly what I mean.
Animals don’t care what we look like, how cool we are (or aren’t), or whether we’re socially awkward. Their energy interacts with ours on a soul-deep level, and they see us as we really are… and love us for it.
Just like we love them.
There’s something magical about interacting with wild animals, but spending time with domestic ones at a rescue farm or sanctuary is just as wonderful.
More essential reading for empaths (article continues below):
- 17 Survival Tips For Empaths And Highly Sensitive People
- 11 Struggles Empaths Face On A Daily Basis
- The Dark Side Of Empaths
- The Moment You Realize You’re An Empath
- 4 Signs You’re An Intuitive Empath (Not Just An Empath)
- 3 Alternatives For Empaths Who Are Tired Of Shielding Themselves
5. Exercising In Nature Heals Us
Exercise is incredibly important for empaths. Carrying other people’s anxieties and negativity can take a toll on us, since negative energy can end up being stored like toxins in our bodies unless we learn how to release them.
Being physically active provides such a release.
When empaths walk (or even run) in a large city, or go to the gym, we’re still surrounded by a ton of people.
As a result, we might release a fair bit of stored-up blergh when we exercise in that kind of environment, but we’re quickly filled back up again with a new barrage of dreck.
Think of it like someone who drinks a bunch of organic juice to cleanse their body of toxins, but then follows it with a soda and vodka chaser. It basically undoes the positive efforts.
When walking, hiking, or running outside in a natural environment, there is only goodness to soak in. Fresh air, birdsong, the whisper of wind through leaves, and rushing water if we’re near a river or lake.
Additionally, exercising in nature really helps to keep us present. It’s easy to zone out when walking or running in a downtown environment: we only really need to focus on not running into other people, or being hit by cars.
Walking in the forest requires our constant attention, but in a positive way…
Sure, we’ll occasionally need to look down at the ground to make sure we’re not tripping over tree roots or stepping on frogs, but there’s always so much to see around us.
We can keep our eyes open for deer or interesting birds, unique plant life, or mushrooms peeking up from rotting logs. The only things we see around us are beautiful and inspiring.
6. Contact With The Earth Is Immensely Grounding And Healing
We’re made of atoms. Every single cell in our bodies is made of atoms, and those are filled with oodles of things like positive protons and negative electrons.
When we have prolonged exposure to toxic environments, trauma, stress, and inflammation, many of our atoms lose electrons, which then turn into free radicals.
These are extremely damaging, and can contribute to all kinds of unpleasant health issues.
The good news is that they can be counteracted with antioxidants, which have neutralizing effects.
Do you know what is one of the most effective antioxidants out there? Quite simply, the Earth’s electromagnetic field.
When our skin comes into contact with the Earth, we absorb the negatively charged electrons our planet exudes naturally.
These electrons calm those free radicals, soothing our stressed immune systems, and healing us on a cellular level.
If you’re interested in learning more, delve into the research done by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman.
7. We Can Focus On Replenishing Our Own Energy
The thing about empaths is that we give, and give, and give: not just because we want to, but because we need to. It’s how we’re wired.
Empaths want to make the world a better place, and we often end up depleting ourselves to the point of near-breakdowns before we even realize how exhausted we are. Being there for friends, volunteering for charities, helping any way we can…
Selfishness is anathema to the average empath, and many of us feel guilty if we’re not working tirelessly in service to others.
When we’re out in nature, it’s almost as though we’ve been given “permission” to focus our time and energy on ourselves instead.
Quite simply, there’s no one else around! We’re out here on our own (or perhaps with a partner or dear friend), but we can set ourselves into recharge mode without feeling any guilt about doing so.
8. Nature’s Soothing Sounds Are Immensely Calming
There’s a reason why so many people meditate to the sound of ocean waves, wind rustling through tree leaves, birdsong, and crackling fires…
…these sounds inspire an incredible amount of calm, as they’re soothing and gentle, rather than jarring.
When you live in a city, you’re assaulted by all kinds of noise every single hour of every single day.
After a while, most people learn how to tune it out: they can sleep through ambulance and police sirens, and aren’t jolted from their thoughts by ringing mobile phones and random yells.
Empaths who live in cities exist in a state of constant hyper-sensory arousal and hypervigilance.
There’s no tuning anything out: we’re just not capable of doing that unless we’re on medications that numb us enough to plod through without being completely overcome by anxiety.
Being out in a forest, or spending time just sitting by the ocean (or lake, or river) calms us on a fundamental level.
9. The Modern World Can Be Harrowing
You know those wonderful stories about people who’ve quit their jobs, moved to cabins in the middle of nowhere, and became farmers, herbalists, or craftspeople?
Chances are they’re empaths who just couldn’t take the modern world anymore.
Many empathic people (myself included) just don’t feel at home in this century.
It’s frenetic, demanding, and utterly exhausting, and it’s not uncommon for empaths to yearn for simpler lives associated with bygone eras.
…just as long as we have hot water, good coffee, and a noted lack of septicemia.
There’s something incredibly peaceful about a simple life devoid of social media and phone notifications. Working with one’s hands is immensely satisfying, as is growing one’s own food, or preparing medicines from plants gathered in the forest.
Interacting with the natural world is a much more human way to live, as we can work alongside others while actually speaking to them, instead of texting from across the room.
We can spend time with animals and insects, breathe in fresh air, and eat wholesome food we’ve grown ourselves.
It might not be as “cool” as being considered a super Instagram influencer, but it certainly inspires far less stress.
If you’re an empath, what do you feel would be a more satisfying and joy-inspiring way to live: daily commutes on crowded public transit and endless days spent staring at a screen?
Or spending that time dedicated to a craft you’re passionate about, especially if it allows you to bask in sunshine and forest song?
People weren’t meant to be indoors day and night, chained to computers, mobile phones, tablets, and TVs. We need to reconnect with the Earth, and empaths need this type of reconnection and rejuvenation more than most.