Compassion fatigue is characterized by physical and emotional exhaustion and a profound decrease in the ability to empathize.
It is common among health workers and caregivers. Not only do jobs in those fields demand a lot, but the type of individuals who are drawn to those careers are often the ones with the most empathy, always wanting to help others. This can lead to compassion fatigue.
Some of the symptoms of compassion fatigue include:
- Emotional/Physical Exhaustion
- Reduced Empathy/Sympathy Toward Others
- Trouble Sleeping
- Irritability, Anger, or Anxiety
What Can Help Prevent or Reduce Compassion Fatigue?
It’s always better to try and avoid getting to a place where you even experience compassion fatigue but that’s not always possible. Many of the things that help with compassion fatigue can also help to prevent it from becoming a problem, to begin with. Whether you’re a doctor, a nurse, or a caregiver, you likely have a very demanding schedule. That’s why self-care is so important in preventing or healing from compassion fatigue. You have to take time for yourself.
Balancing work and leisure, maintaining a nutritious diet, and exercising regularly are the keystones to preventing – and helping heal from – compassion fatigue.
Another important area to focus on is setting emotional boundaries. While it is important to stay compassionate, empathetic, and supportive of your patients, you have to avoid getting overly involved. If you become too invested in the pain of those in your care you will take on too much of their emotional burden, which can lead to compassion fatigue.
A few things to avoid when suffering from compassion fatigue:
- Don’t Make Big/Life-altering Decisions
- Don’t Blame Others
- Don’t Spend Your Energy Complaining
- Don’t Self-medicate
- Don’t Look for a Quick Fix
- Don’t Work Harder/Longer
- Don’t Neglect Your Own Needs
If you’ve been suffering from compassion fatigue find someone to talk to about it. Keeping this type of struggle to yourself will only perpetuate the problem, making it worse.
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