Protect Yourself from Compassion Fatigue

Are you a compassionate, empathetic person? Do you have a strong desire to help comfort or alleviate the pain and suffering of others? Have you noticed a lack of interest in doing things you love?

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You may be suffering from Compassion Fatigue.

Compassion fatigue is a sudden onset of sadness, lack of interest and anxiety brought on by mental and emotional stress from uncontrollable circumstances.

As we face a global pandemic, life coaches, health professionals, and empathetic people are among the ‘silent sufferers’. We both hear and feel the pain of clients, patients, friends and relatives. All while even personally dealing with the effects of Coronavirus.

I started to recognize a change in myself about a week ago. Suddenly, I had brain fog and very little desire to engage in any activity. Creatively, I was uninspired. In fact, the mere thought of posting content brought on anxiety. For days, I remained secluded in my bedroom binge watching old sitcoms.

When preparing for a Coaching call, it felt like I had to put on an alter ego to perform. Dissociative symptoms of “zoning out” was persistent. My emotions ranged from sadness, anxiety, hopelessness and paranoia.

In just a two week period, I personally know of over a dozen people who’ve died from COVID-19. However, with social distancing physically consoling their families was not an option. I didn’t want to risk their lives or my own. So, they suffer…alone, from a distance. This reality triggered a hopeless feeling within me.

The one activity that brought back a feeling of control was cleaning. That’s also when I would begin to cry. It was as if the physical activity of cleaning helped to encourage an emotional cleansing as I released toxins from the body.

Eventually, a light bulb went off. “This is compassion fatigue!” I felt relieved because now I knew what to do. Compassion fatigue, once identified, is treatable in a relatively short period of time.

Three Ways to Alleviate Compassion Fatigue

  1. AWARENESS – Recognize the signs and how they’re showing up in your life. Most common signs are sadness, anxiety, lack of interest, dissociation (zoning out), feeling creatively stuck, confused, sleep disturbances, indigestion, change in appetite.
  2. BALANCE – When experiencing Compassion Fatigue, you must say “Yes” to what healthy forms of relief and “No” to added stressors. Do more of what you love (exercise, meditation, arts and crafts, laughter, dance, etc.) Set realistic and reasonable expectations for each day. Postpone or cancel unnecessary tasks. Celebrate small victories.
  3. CONNECTIONS – Stay in tune with your internal thoughts and feelings. Use journaling to purge, reframe, and validate yourself. If necessary, ask for help from a certified or licensed professional.

One day soon, the temporary social distancing order will end.

My strong faith gives me hope that soon ALL suffering will end as our loving Heavenly Father brings permanent relief:

“And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:4