As fulfilling as it is to be in the helping profession, it can also take a toll on your mental health and well-being. Sometimes, when you spend all hours of the day taking care of your loved ones or worrying about them nonstop, you can feel burnt out or drained. If this is true for you, you may have a case of compassion fatigue.
Understanding Caregiver Compassion Fatigue
Also known as secondary stress reaction or secondhand shock, compassion fatigue is a type of stress that results from wanting to help those who have experienced trauma or emotional duress. In simpler terms, compassion fatigue is similar to burnout.
However, contrary to conventional burnout that happens over a long period, the early signs of compassion fatigue are sudden and immediate. When this type of burnout appears, you can see physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual manifestations in your daily life, including, depersonalization, feelings of inequity, headaches, difficulty sleeping, self-contempt, and low job satisfaction.
Compassion fatigue in family caregivers is quite common due to the tremendous emotional and physical demands their job entails. There’s an inherent level of pressure they put themselves under to provide the best care for their loved ones. When something doesn’t go as planned, compassion fatigue and burnout in caregivers can arise.
3 Ways to Manage Compassion Fatigue
With the onset of compassion fatigue family caregivers experience, it’s time to take the necessary steps to manage the condition. Fortunately, simple lifestyle changes can improve compassion fatigue. Here are three steps you can start with.
Spend Quality Time by Yourself
By spending so many hours of the day with your loved ones, you inevitably limit the amount of time you have with yourself. It’s important to set boundaries between work and your personal life. Before your workday starts, try to practice mindfulness meditation to ground yourself and your thoughts in the moment. This will also help you reconnect with a spiritual source and achieve much-needed inner balance.
Besides mindfulness exercises, an excellent way to manage compassion fatigue is to recharge daily. Something as simple as getting enough sleep, eating a well-balanced diet, and setting some time to stay active are incredible solutions to recharge and refocus. By following these routines on a daily basis, you can experience exponential benefits for your mental and physical health. These will also reduce stress and re-energize you for the days and weeks to come.
Engage in Hobbies Outside of Work
You should also try new things and engage in hobbies outside of work. This will help you shift your focus from work to something more relaxing and revitalizing. Activities such as painting, reading, and embroidery can help you relax and manage your compassion fatigue.
If you want to be more outgoing, you can explore outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, trekking, running, and so much more. There’s a world of opportunities for you to broaden your horizon and get immersed in outside of your work.
Try these out and see what a difference they can make in your recovery from compassion fatigue.