What is compassion fatigue?
Compassion fatigue is defined as a physical, emotional, and at times, spiritual exhaustion from consistent exposure to pain and suffering that comes from caregiving.
Whether the caregiving is for people or animals, or fighting for causes or for better laws for protection and humane treatment, giving compassion on a regular basis can lead to poor overall health that can drain one’s precious energy and spirit, and effect their professional and personal lives.
People who work in nonprofit organizations such as animal shelters and welfare, environmental groups are especially vulnerable, along with health care workers in hospitals, assisted living homes, as well as individuals caring for loved ones on a daily basis. Compassion fatigue can lead to medical illnesses, psychological issues, and overall poor health with a negative outlook on life and people in general. Often caregivers become sicker than those they are caring for.
Studies shows repeatedly that those who work in heart breaking situations with emotional challenges experience higher levels of health problems, burnout, and total exhaustion. It often goes untreated, leading to major medical and psychological problems, such a depression, anxiety, drug abuse, and more. They can also develop a cynical and jaded attitude with feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
Most caregivers neglect their own well-being. However, there are many resources to help caregivers, whether in organizations, groups, or individuals to increase awareness and insight to recognize the signs and symptoms of compassion fatigue, as well as treatments, coping strategies, tool, and others, that can be incorporated daily to improve their physical health, and empower their mental strength, and restore their spirit with meaning they thrive on, so they can continue to be our heroes with health and happiness.
It is possible to give and accept compassion while helping others and maintain health and happiness, and you don’t have to wait till symptoms appear. Prevention is one of the smartest and the healthiest things to do. These resources include healthy lifestyle practices that can be applied to anyone’s life or situation with a positive outcome that can be adapted by anyone and can last for the rest of their lives.
As a longtime volunteer in many nonprofit organizations, I have experience compassion fatigue myself, and without knowing what it was, I suffered alone in silence, which lead me to stay away from causes I believed in.
Now, with my background in mental health, nutrition, and more, I help educate organizations about both overcoming and preventing compassion fatigue and teach them strategies, they can use for the rest of their lives, so they can continue to fight and help those who cannot defend themselves.
If you’re interested in a compassion fatigue workshop for your organization, please contact me here. And thank you always for your service.