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What is Compassion Fatigue?

Theo Gagen
Nov 12, 2019

Most people spend a portion of their lives in distress due to carrying emotional or mental weight of the people around them. This issue has a name, and is diagnosable. It’s called compassion fatigue.

The problem of compassion fatigue was first identified in healthcare professionals. As you can imagine, working in an environment where you are constantly helping others in pain and observing suffering can increase your chances of experiencing stress related to the lives of others.

In 2019, compassion fatigue has spread far and wide. Due to technological advances, most of us are aware of the suffering of individuals thousands of miles away from us. Perhaps you are stressed about the wildfires in California, or the recent hurricane in Florida. Worrying about others’ quality of life can make you feel burdened, tired, and helpless - these are all symptoms of compassion fatigue.

Since this issue is quite prevalent in our ever-connected society, it’s good to know how to identify and cope with compassion fatigue.

Common Symptoms

Those experiencing compassion fatigue experience many symptoms. They find it can take an emotional, mental, physical, or spiritual toll. Common signs include:

  • Depersonalization
  • Headaches
  • Denial
  • Insomnia and other sleeping difficulties
  • Chronic emotional and physical exhaustion
  • Feelings of inequity toward caregiver or therapeutic relationships
  • Irritable moods
  • Dissatisfaction with their job
  • Weight loss

Preventing & Managing Compassion Fatigue

Prevention starts with being self-aware and using self-monitoring practices. That means recognizing a variety of factors like changes in your behavior, life outside of work, and work routines. These are your first steps toward preventing compassion fatigue.

Here are some other tips for preventing compassion fatigue:

  • Consulting with a therapist
  • Exercising
  • Following a sleep schedule
  • Journaling
  • Meditating
  • Reducing stress at work
  • Taking vacations

The Impact

The most notable part of compassion fatigue is that it can happen to anyone. If you or someone you know may be experiencing compassion fatigue, it’s important to acknowledge the issue and work towards creating a healthier lifestyle.

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