What is Compassion Fatigue?
So you work in health/social care, or education. Perhaps as an OT or physio? Doctor, nurse, social worker, speech and language therapist, teacher, Teaching Assistant, lecturer, or administrator…(we could go on…)
Perhaps you work in a hospital environment? Or in the community? Maybe in palliative care? In a school, college or university. You may work for a Government entity, a charity, a private organisation… (you get the idea).
But whatever your role you probably work with people who are ill, suffering, in distress, undergoing some kind of trauma or dealing with multicultural issues.
Your role requires emotional, psychological and physical input. There are long hours, deadlines and a wide variety of demands on your time.
All of which means you are at risk of compassion fatigue.
Compassion Fatigue is the gradual wearing down of compassion and empathy, or the ability to care over a period of time.
It is what happens when the stories and experiences of the people we are caring for or teaching and working with overwhelm us. Add to this the stresses of our own personal life, and the expectations of the organisation we work for and the results can be:
Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach pains, inability to sleep
Emotional symptoms such as low moods (or mood swings), anger, frustration, anxiety, a feeling of ‘why bother’, anger, frustration, bottling up of emotions, crying more often than usual, small annoyances become huge issues.
A change in the way we see the world and the people we work with, less tolerance of clients/patients/students, leading to a negative attitude, over generalisation (John is ALWAYS so difficult to work with, Eve NEVER appreciates what I do…) and a tendency to avoid situations or patients/clients/students we perceive as difficult.
Compassion Fatigue is a normal consequence of doing the work you do, over a period of time. It is an erosion, it is not a medical diagnosis, it is a set of signs and symptoms that you can choose to do something about.
To know more http://www.lindasage.com/bus_health.html You do not have to suffer in silence or alone.
Here’s to your success
Caring for the caregiver
Linda Sage MA BA Ed (Hons)