Boundaries for Empaths/Highly Sensing People

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An empath or highly sensing person (HSP) is more highly attuned to their environment than others. While this can lead to an empath or HSP feeling over-stimulated, anxious, and drained, this innate attunement can also lead to deep, meaningful connections. Because of this, maintaining healthy boundaries is exceptionally important for empaths and HSPs, as they allow for balance and the maximization of well-being in relationships with self and others.

 First, a few words about setting healthy boundaries with other people…

We can care about others AND set healthy boundaries. Setting healthy boundaries is not about “rejecting” anyone. While we are responsible for how we choose to communicate with others, we are NOT responsible for other people’s feelings or responses to us. What is healthy, loving, and empowering for us is healthy, loving, and empowering for others as well, as it creates the opportunity for positive growth and change in relationships.

In order to set healthy boundaries, you must first have a sense of your own being, so that you can distinguish between self and other. To do this, I recommend the following:

  • Check in with yourself daily: when you have had a chance to be in your own energy for a while, such as when you wake-up in the morning, identify your baseline for the day physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Throughout the day check in with yourself and see how you are doing, and what the impact of your interactions has had on your baseline. Then you will start to determine who and what inspires, energizes, nurtures, and relaxes you, and who and what drains, diffuses, over-stimulates, and pulls you off center.

  • Know yourself: What are your likes and dislikes? What do you enjoy doing? Where do you enjoy being? Who and what fuels you, or depletes you? Prioritize connection with who and what contributes to your well-being in positive, healthy ways. These connections can be people, places, animals, things, practices, etc.  

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Knowing yourself gives you better ability to say yes to what is healthy for you and no to what isn’t.

Here are some ideas on ways to set healthy boundaries with others:

  1. Imagine and feel your own sense of self and energy expanding to surround you. Own your power, and trust it to keep you feeling centered and safe.

  2. Visualize and feel one or more of the following, or create your own:

    • A screen of light that filters energy during the interaction, allowing healthy energy in and keeping unhealthy energy out.

    • A light shield surrounding you to deflect and reduce the absorption of unhealthy energy and what is not yours to take on. 

  3. Take charge of your part in an interaction, so that patterns of “taking on stuff” from others are changed. This may involve some preparation ahead of time, such as coming up with what YOU would like to express during an interaction.

  4. Use intentional language to create your own responses when setting healthy boundaries such as…

    • “I hear your point of view, and…(“I” statement about your own opinion, needs, etc.).”

    • “I think we see this differently.”

    • “I’m not comfortable having this discussion.”

    • “I need some time to think about ________ before I respond.”

    • “I am able to do ________ at this time.” “I am unable to do ________ at this time.”

    • “This sounds like something you could talk directly to ________ about.”

    • “It sounds like you have a lot going on. I believe in your ability to get through this.”

    • “No, thank you.”

  5. Grant yourself space and excuse yourself from an interaction if it continues to feel unhealthy for you.

These are just a few ways to set healthy boundaries as an empath or HSP. Take the time to get to know yourself and your individual needs; increase positive, healthy interactions; and always support yourself with compassion throughout the process!

About the author:

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Lauren Boulanger is a clinician here at The Holistic Heart. She also has experience as a licensed massage therapist, Reiki practitioner, and educator.

As an intuitive, empath, and truth-seeker, Lauren is passionate about bridging the spiritual and physical realms. She engages her love of learning, understanding, and making connections through reading, contemplation, and being with others who are also pursuing the paths of knowledge. Lauren believes that personal growth, change, healing, and overall well-being are directly connected with a deep understanding and authentic expression of one’s self on all levels of being.

We All Have Mental Health: The HH Staff Shares Our Mental Health Routines

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Sammy

Let's be honest, being a human is hard. Throughout my life, I have always craved authentic connection, meaningful communication, and normalizing of this whole thing we call being a human, however have often felt challenged and discouraged around the way mental health (and truthfully "health" in general) is regarded in our society. In our culture of constant comparisons and instant gratification, I find that it can be so easy to feel lost in the abyss and myself have experienced many seasons of self-doubt, anxiety, and fear of failure. During these times, I find it exceedingly important to turn inward and show my whole being a bit of love and compassion through self-care. Some of my own self-care practices

include spending time outside in nature, even if it's just for a couple of minutes; moving my body by having my own personal dance party; reaching out to a friend I haven't connected with in awhile; taking time to write in my gratitude journal; and of course, spending time with my favorite little pup, MJ!


I have long been challenged with moments of depression, anxiety, stress, grief, overwhelm, perfectionism, tension, etc. It was not until I started my own research, learning, and exploration that I truly began to understand mental health and the human experience. During these times of struggle I seek comfort (cozy clothing, blankets, cuddles, warm tea, essential oils), movement (walking, dance, intentional yoga flows, hiking), and connection (animals, self, universe, partner, supportive friends/family). One of the most helpful additions to my self care routine has been incorporating my daily mantra, "I am human!

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Amy


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Kara

Overall health is based upon the mental, physical and spiritual (mind, body, soul). The best way I remind myself of this truth is focusing on the present by either connecting with my breath or feeling my feet on the ground. Too many times I have allowed myself to be taken out and under by the sea of thoughts within my mind. When I recognize that I am too in my head, I anchor to the here and now by grounding into my feet or breath awareness. Reminding myself I am on the planet, breathing in this moment is enough.  This keeps me balanced in mind (mental), body (physical) and soul (spirit). The times when my thoughts get really overwhelming, I double down by inhaling deeply, sending the breath to my feet, pressing into the surface beneath and releasing the exhale fully; emptying my lungs and my mind. Much like the ocean, the mind is a beautifully

amazing natural element that can both create and destroy in any given circumstance. Remaining present to breath and grounding into the feet are the ways I keep balance within and without. The activity of the mind will always be, it's how we choose to respond to the activity that matters. As we are reminded by this quote on mindfulness: "the waves do keep coming, so learn to surf."


To me, focusing on my mental health is a way to focus on balance in my life. Making time to prioritize ways of being that include connection, rest, movement, recharging and inspiration helps me feel better in mind, body, and spirit. My self care includes taking walks whenever possible, being outside and in nature (especially the beach!), spending meaningful time with close family and friends, getting enough sleep, reading, journaling, artistic expression, yoga, dancing, watching Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!, The Goldbergs, and Schitt’s Creek, and snuggling with my cat, Belle! 

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Lauren


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Brandi

When there's a lot going on all at once, it can be hard to stay grounded. Self-care practices can be the first things to drop off the schedule when there's so much going on, which for me, only makes things more challenging. During hectic times, I try to really keep in mind that consistently using these practices helps to keep me grounded. I feel my best when I'm outside in nature and moving.

Outdoor activities that require a lot of focus can help me to stay present, which can be so helpful when there’s a lot on my mind! Writing has been a consistent practice of mine for as long as I can remember. I find it a helpful way to organize, process, and release. Yoga is is also huge for me. I've moved around a lot as an adult and one of the first things I do upon moving is try out different yoga studios to find a home base. I've found that helpful in building a sense of community and connection to the area, all while continuing to develop a meaningful yoga practice <3


Over time; especially during seasons of change filled with anxiety during my life, I have learned to better navigate the emotional ebbs and flows that come with being human. What helps me the most is hiking, as it provides me with the opportunity to challenge myself, move my body, and see a beautiful view to help put everything into perspective. I hope you are able to get outside and enjoy the beauty in yourself and the world around you!

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Melissa


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Kristen

As an introverted, deeply sensing and deeply thinking person who craves meaning, I have often struggled to understand my place in the world. As I've gotten older I've realized that everyone is different - not just me. Sometimes that feels exciting (humans are so cool!), and other times it still feels lonely and isolating. Sometimes it feels like my heart is too soft for this world. I’m still practicing self-compassion and self-acceptance. Some days feel better than others, and I’ve learned that is okay. I truly do recognize the need and purpose for all of my feeling states and try to welcome them as best I'm able when they arrive. On harder days I get through by connecting with my own sense of meaning and purpose. I do that by reading,

listening to audiobooks, videos, or podcasts that I find inspirational, being around animals (particularly my dog Langley and everyone’s favorite bunny Benson), connecting with supportive people, reflective journaling, yoga, meditating, validating my experience by allowing my feelings (without trying to fix or change - something I’ve had to learn and practice), and my own therapy when I've needed it.

10 Tips for Taking Care of Your Mental Health

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Mental health is intimately tied to a sense of well-being within ourselves and in the world. Here are 10 ways you can support your mental and emotional health:

  1. Do regular self check-ins.

    A minimum of 1-3x daily, pause to ask yourself how you’re doing and what you need (physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually). Make or plan time to take care of any needs that you notice.

  2. Practice self-acceptance.

    One of the most difficult things we can face in a day is our own desire to be or feel something other than we are. Allow what is present for you to be present, and validate your own experience. This is an amazing and powerful gift to give yourself.

  3. Say no when you need to.

    Boundaries: set them. Take care of you by declining when you need to.

    “Boundaries are the distance at which I can love you and me simultaneously,”

    - Prentis Hemphill

  4. Say yes when you want to.

    Make time for things you enjoy and prioritize them! We all have responsibilities to juggle, but a good balance of passion and play is critical for mental and emotional wellbeing.

  5. Move your body.

    Take a walk on your break at work or between classes, have an impromptu dance party in your living room, hit the gym, do yoga or zumba… the possibilities are endless so choose what speaks to you on any given day. Being connected with your body is grounding and a great way to feel into your vitality.

  6. Be still.

    In the fast-paced culture we live in, mindful stillness is rare - but it is in the moments when we quiet the outer noise that we are able to hear our inner wisdom. Take time regularly to visit with yourself in stillness, actively attending to your inner experience.

  7. Connect with nature.

    As human beings we are intimately connected with nature, and spending time outdoors helps us tap into this peaceful essence within ourselves. Sit under a large tree or walk barefoot in the grass for grounding, sit by the water or go for a swim to connect with your creativity and ability to flow, let the sunshine warm your soul and feed your growth.

  8. Find your breath.

    In yoga, the breath is called prana, or ‘life force energy.’ Take a few moments to feel your breath, your life force, within you. Allow the breath to anchor your attention in the present moment and breathe deeply to invite more of life in.

  9. Express yourself.

    Humans are creative beings. We are beautifully unique and thrive in the expression of our uniqueness. Some forms of expression can include speaking, dancing, writing, singing, music, construction, entrepreneurship, and connection… but expression can take as many unique forms as there are individuals, so know that there is no right or wrong here. Expression is simply sharing from your heart into the world in a way that is meaningful for you.

  10. Take your inner child out for a play date.

    We’re all still taking care of the child within. Take time to connect with him/her/them and see what they want to do for an afternoon! Our child selves often have the ability to connect us with the passions we still hold as adults, and remind us of the importance of play and spontaneity.

Happy self-caring!

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I Have Strong Opinions About Mental Health: A Letter From Our Founder

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I have strong opinions about mental health.

Here’s what I don’t love:

“Mental Health” has, in large part, become a way to systematically pathologize the human condition. Sad? It’s depression. Anxiety? It’s a disorder. So on top of not feeling your best, you also get to feel like there is something actively wrong - or worse, fundamentally broken - about you.

For many, these diagnoses can become a part of your identity (“I am depressed,” “I’m bipolar,” or “I have anxiety”). Too often these labels become limitations and many of us fail to see our potential beyond one particular feeling state.

Here’s what I really want to say to you: it is okay to feel how you feel and it is okay to inhabit different feeling states. It is an important and natural part of our life experience and emotional development to struggle with uncertainty, fear, loss, confusion, and pain.

Don’t get me wrong - I think having an organizing concept like a diagnosis can be helpful if we are using it to understand parts of ourselves and our experiences better. All I’m asking is, just don’t limit yourself. Don’t put yourself in a diagnostic box and let it define you, or feel like it is something wrong, or bad.

Do not settle for “symptom management.” Go deeper, heal your heart.

The complexity of your magic cannot be reduced to a set of symptoms. Please know that no matter what your current experience is, there is a good reason why you feel the way you do, even if you don’t currently know what that reason might be.

The human experience is a challenging one, and if you are struggling, I encourage you to seek support. It can be profoundly beneficial to process your experience and receive support around it. I am a strong advocate of mental health care - I just believe that the system as a whole could be doing a much better job with providing it in a way that honors, understands, and nurtures our humanness.

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Here’s what I do love:

People. The complexity of the human experience and the resilience of the human spirit.

Your beautiful uniqueness.

The innate inward pull we all share toward expansion, evolution, and transformation.

That (however flawed it may currently be) we created an entire system meant to support the emotional growth journey of human beings and provide support in times of suffering and struggle.

That mental health is about the science of psychology (i.e. the study of the psyche). And though most people think the word “psyche” translates to brain, or something to do with mental functioning - it actually translates to Soul. Psychology is the study of the human Soul, the human essence.

And what our current mental health system seems to have forgotten, is that psychology is not about finding the problem, it is about uncovering the potential.

It’s about showing up for ourselves, healing past hurts, releasing untrue stories about who we are that we learned from people who are not us, doing the hard work of finding our truth, and touching the space within that is infinite.

It is about looking inward - not outward - for what we seek.

And it is about connecting with and expressing the potential within. The unique gifts we each bring for the betterment of the whole.

As a provider, it is an honor being a witness to people doing their inner work. As an individual, looking inward is some of the hardest work I have ever done and continues to be.

But I believe turning inward to see ourselves fully is something we all must do. The work of knowing and loving yourself is the most powerful and difficult work you can do, but it is the task before us all.

You are so much more than you can even dream. Dive deep, do your work, heal past hurts, and connect with your essential nature. Explore your beautiful potential, and bring forth your gifts into the world.

That, is mental health.

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Click here to learn more about our whole-person approach to mental health.