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The Cost of Caring: Preventing Compassion Fatigue

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Some people find it fulfilling to help others without expecting anything in return. While some might be paid to do it, they normally go the extra mile for the people they help. Seeing the smile on others’ faces is more than enough for them to continue what they are doing.

But there might be a point when caregivers experience compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue is also called secondary traumatic stress and is the physical, psychological, and emotional impact a caregiver experiences for helping other people. It’s often mistaken for burnout, but burnout is just one of the aspects of compassion fatigue.

This condition typically affects people who help others, including healthcare professionals, caregivers, therapists, and legal professionals. But there are some things these professionals can do to prevent it from happening.

Practice Self-Care

Prevention is always better than cure, and one way to prevent compassion fatigue is to practice self-care. Before you can help others, you should take care of yourself first. Practicing self-care is important to relieve stress, lessen anxiety, improve happiness, and avoid burnout. It is an important aspect of protecting yourself from experiencing compassion fatigue.

It makes you less susceptible to stress and gives you an optimistic outlook on life. To achieve self-care, you need to have a nutritious and balanced diet. You also need to meet your emotional needs and rest if necessary. It’s also important for you to balance your work with your leisure activities. Don’t focus too much on work.

When you have self-care activities, you’ll reduce instances of working too much. If you overwork, you have a bigger tendency to experience compassion fatigue. So, focus on helping yourself so you can help more people in the future.

Be Knowledgeable

Another way to prevent compassion fatigue is for you to know its signs and symptoms. The signs and symptoms of compassion fatigue are similar to post-traumatic stress disorder. These include anger, irritability, anxiety, nervousness, mood swings, and difficulty in concentrating. It might even reach a point where you would be chronically exhausted, both physically and mentally.

You’ll also find that your appetite and sleeping habits have changed. It might even reach a point where you’ll become insensitive and will have lesser feelings of sympathy and empathy. You might also feel unfulfilled with your professional development or your career.

Recognizing these symptoms will allow you to take a step back and breathe. It’ll allow you to pause and check what you can do before it becomes worse. You’ll also have a chance to take a break and ask for help, if necessary.

Seek Help

There no shame in asking for help. Being in a profession where people care for others, you should know that some people are willing to help you. You can go to a therapist to help you process your feelings.

If more people feel the stress of work, the organization might need help from third-party groups to perk up its workers’ spirit. Third-party groups, such as Miick, can facilitate productivity within a company or organization.

While these groups normally focus on commercial organizations, they can also assist in motivating people. They have strategies that allow people to overcome stress and attain a healthy work-life balance.


Set Boundaries

When you are in a profession where you help others, it’s important to set emotional boundaries to protect yourself. Your career normally focuses on compassion and empathy. If you don’t set boundaries, you might end up getting too involved with the people you’re helping.

While you want to connect with them, it’s important to separate yourself from them. You should remember that you also have your needs and struggles. It’s essential not to put this aside so you won’t end up getting too involved with the people you’re helping.

If your work involved exposing yourself to trauma, you might start feeling overwhelmed. And when this happens, you can end up traumatizing yourself. This will affect your emotional and physical health. So, it’s always important to set limits to your emotional involvement with the people you’re helping,

Connect with Friends Outside the Organization

One way for you to set limitations or boundaries is to have a life. This means you need to connect with your friend who is not a part of the organization you’re working with. Cultivating these friendships is good for your mental health.

It allows you to have an outlet where you can enjoy life and be yourself. When you have friends outside of work, you will have the chance to focus on things outside of work. This is important to allow you to get the emotional relief you need.

People working in a profession where they help others can become susceptible to compassion fatigue in the future. But if they know how to deal with it, they can stop even before it starts.

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