Compassion fatigue is defined as the physical, emotional, and psychological impact of helping others. By comparison, burnout is a term that describes the impact of being in a stressful workplace.
If you’ve been pouring yourself out in the care and service of others, and you find yourself experiencing a lack of pleasure in activities that used to bring you joy, or if you’re finding yourself being unusually irritable, sad or numb, you might be dealing with Compassion Fatigue.
Putting another way, Lysa Terkeurst wrote,
“A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.”
Compassion Fatigue is often compounded by a sense of guilt because we try to convince ourselves that we shouldn’t be exhausted, should be able to pour ourselves out for others without feeling empty, joyless, or prickly. However, we need to show ourselves the same compassion, the same kindness, that we seek to show to others.
Those who know God might pray with the Psalm writer, “You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth, you will bring me up again” Psalm 71:20 ESV
Here are a few suggestions to deal with Compassion Fatigue:
Get Educated – know the signs and symptoms such as trouble sleeping, weight loss, irritiability, chronic exhaustion and reduced empathy.
Boost Resiliency – Mayo clinic offers suggestions like staying connected and building strong, positive relationships, learning from experience by thinking of how you’ve coped successfully in the past with difficult times, and identifying positive and negative behavior patterns to guide future behavior.
Get Rested – Though it may seem like an additional stressor, try creating a ritual for bedtime. The rhythm of doing the same thing each night as you unwind and prepare for bed will clue your body that it’s time to sleep.
Set Emotional Boundaries – Use journaling to help you recognize your own feelings of frustration, anger or resentment and begin to take short breaks throughout the day to breath, close your eyes and practice mindfulness or pray, practice gratitude and utilize positive self-talk.
Get Outside Help – None of us were created to go through this life alone. Connecting with friends and asking for help of seeking professional support for your caregiving responsibilities is essential to avoiding Compassion Fatigue. Leaves Personal Care has been privileged to walk alongside many individuals as the cared for a loved one, helping to shoulder the burden of care and free up time for refreshment, renewal, and recharging.
If you are finding yourself at the end of your tether, there is help and hope. Contact Leaves today for a complementary assessment to see how we can help.