Do you know what compassion fatigue is? If yes, where did you hear the term?
What do you think the term means?
For many people who work in the helping profession as well as social service jobs like policing or FBI work compassion fatigue is likely to occur at some point in their lives. For those, such as myself, who work in the helping profession, compassion fatigue might also accompany burn-out.
It isn’t surprising that some individuals who care for the well-being of family members who have medical or mental health conditions also experience compassion fatigue and burn-out.
In this article, I will be discussing compassion fatigue and burnout as both of these terms tend to mean different things.
I’m a firm believer that caregivers, parents, spouses, and even divorcees experience compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue, as defined in the video, often results from vicarious trauma (watching someone else experience a traumatic event) or emotional and psychological distress. Compassion fatigue is often accompanied by symptoms of burn-out such as psychological, emotional, and physiological symptoms (i.e., depression, exhaustion, anger or irritability, frequent cold symptoms, “false alarm” symptoms, etc).
I once saw a woman who had what I like to call “false alarm symptoms.” She appeared to be experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder. But little did I know, she was staying up all night, researching the symptoms of her mother, and taking “uppers” or stimulants throughout the day. A combination of no sleep and stimulant medication that wasn’t prescribed is a recipe for disaster.
Burnout is often characterized by stress and distress that has resulted from overworking or “overindulgence” in a stressful area of life.
I discuss both concepts below and offer the following tips for those who feel overwhelmed, fatigued, and discouraged. There are 3 tools I encourage you to try which includes:
- Mindfulness “meditation” or quiet-time which includes bringing your awareness, for a short period of time, to yourself.
- Mindful eating (taking your time and enjoying the experience without rushing). This has always been difficult for me!
- Mindful walking. This includes taking a walk and soaking in all of your surroundings and avoiding the urge to “get it over with.”
So what do you think of these tools? Are you going to try them?
As always, I welcome your experiences and your questions.
I wish you well