If you’ve ever lied awake at night counting sheep rather than catching ZZZs, you know how utterly frustrating it can be, not to mention how physically and mentally fatigued you feel the next day. Sleep is so vital to our overall health, but according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one third of adults in the US simply aren’t getting enough (Liu et al., 2014). I can’t emphasize enough how important sleep is to combating compassion fatigue.
So you’ve decided, or maybe you’re thinking, that it’s time to conquer compassion fatigue once and for all and you want to invest in personal counseling. That’s great! But how do you go about finding a mental-health professional who can understand the unique challenges that those of you in the animal-welfare community face? In addition to seeking out someone who specializes in compassion fatigue, trauma, or grief and loss, check out these tips to help you choose a great therapist.
Compassion Fatigue and Economic Euthanasia: An Interview with Alan Abrams, Co-Founder of DVM PetSavers
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Alan Abrams, a man who is dedicated to saving animals whose owners can’t afford veterinary treatment. He sheds light on the issue of economic euthanasia, the impact it has on the veterinary team, and what he's doing...
Note: This blog post was taken from my newly released book, To Save a Starfish: A Compassion Fatigue Workbook for the Animal Welfare Warrior. I have been involved in animal welfare for as long as I can remember. I’m pretty sure it all started when, as a young child, I learned that hamburger was a code word for cow. Little did I know that my refusal to eat meat was just the beginning of what would become a lifelong dedication to helping animals in need.
Sometimes it can feel that working to protect animals is a never-ending, uphill battle. I know from my own personal experience that there are days when I’ve lost all hope for humanity, and I’m sure I’m not alone! In fact, I’ve known many animal caregivers who are also struggling to find joy and balance in their lives because of what they witness on a daily basis.
Several years ago, while working at the local humane society, a co-worker of mine came bursting through the door screaming, “I can’t (F-bomb) take this anymore!” I suggested we go outside and get some air. As his trembling hands lit up a cigarette, he began to sob. “If one more person surrenders an animal today, I’m going to reach across the counter and strangle them. I just can’t do this anymore,” he told me. My friend, a tough-on-the-outside kind of guy with a great sense of humor, now had tears streaming down his face.
In honor of National Stress Awareness Day, I want to share with one of my all-time favorite ways to fight stress and induce relaxation. One of the most helpful ways to combat compassion fatigue is through self-care, and progressive muscle relaxation is a perfect example.
Suspecting I was struggling with a touch of compassion fatigue, my husband recently convinced me to head up to northern Michigan for a few days to stay at our family’s cottage. I was long overdue for some much-needed self-care, so I packed a small suitcase and hit the road. It was officially fall, which meant that the tourist season had come to another close, the trees began to show hints of color, and the lake was still – perfect for a little rest and relaxation.
Feelings of sadness, lack of motivation, loss of interest – these and other symptoms of depression sound a lot like compassion fatigue, don’t they? It’s a question I often get when I present compassion fatigue workshops to animal caregivers. So what exactly is the difference between compassion fatigue and full-blown depression?