I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.
Compassion fatigue has been showing up a lot lately on the news and on social media as a result of COVID-19. Have you seen this showing up in your life too? I know I sure have, especially recently with the rising COVID-19 numbers in Texas.
So, where are some places compassion fatigue tends to show up for people?
- Helping professions such as doctors, nurses, therapists, clergy, teachers, etc.
- Caregivers such as parents to their children, children caring for aging parents, etc.
- Medically related such as caring for a sick or disabled family member.
- Mental health related such as supporting a family member who is struggling with anxiety, depression, grief and loss, etc.
- Global pandemic related as it can be hard to continue to be compassionate towards other people’s suffering during the repeated trauma of an ongoing pandemic.
The following are some symptoms that may show up if you (or someone you know) is experiencing compassion fatigue.
- Burnout professionally- not wanting to go to work, needing a break from it all.
- Feeling overwhelmed in life.
- Being emotionally numb and disconnected emotionally from others.
- Hopelessness- not feeling like things will get better in the future.
- Feelings of anger and frustration directed towards others.
- A sense of agitation and irritability throughout the day.
- Heightened anxiety and worry about the future.
- Feeling sad/crying a lot.
- Experiencing grief and loss around how life used to be.
- A lack of empathy for others.
When you notice and are aware that these symptoms of compassion fatigue are showing up in your life, what should you do? Here are some coping strategies that may help you feel better and feel more like yourself again:
- Prioritizing self-care- meditation, journaling, exercise, eating healthy, getting enough sleep, hydration, etc.
- Emotionally connecting with others through being vulnerable about how you’re really doing.
- Setting clear boundaries to better protect your time and emotional well-being.
- Taking breaks to recharge throughout your day when symptoms show up.
- Talk to a counselor to figure out where your compassion fatigue is stemming from and ways you can better take care of you.
- Find fulfillment outside of work and home such as a hobby you look forward to taking part in.
Be on the lookout for compassion fatigue in your own life. Even if it may not be showing up directly for you, it may be showing up for someone in your close circle such as a friend, family member, coworker, etc. With the pandemic, compassion fatigue seems to be on the rise in a number of different professions and for a number of different reasons.