Compassion Fatigue is simply that - exhaustion that has escalated from being a caregiver in someone's life. Compassion comes from within, and while not everyone will experience Compassion Fatigue or "Secondary Trauma Stress - STS", those who do can feel the effects in their home life, work life, and personal life.
What does Compassion Fatigue look/feel like? In everyone, it's different, as it is a stress, and stress is not the same for each individual. There is typically a negative effect on said person's emotions, and they reach a point where there is little to no desire to continue assisting those they have been.
Symptoms of Compassion Fatigure can include (but are not limited to):
- "Bottled up" emotions
- Voicing excessive complaints
- Isolation from others
- Excessive blaming of others
- Complusive behaviors (overspending, overeating, gambling, etc)
- Poor hygenine
- Chronic physical ailments (colds, flus, etc)
- Fatigue (tired, sleeping longer than normal)
- Angers easily about simple tasks
- Cries easily about simple tasks
- Lack of interest around hobbies and activities that once loved
So how can caregivers get through and even prevent Compassion Fatigue? There are many ways, and each individual will have to work with themselves to find out what works best.
One way is to maintain a diverse of your own social support through family, friends, colleagues and even pets, which helps promote a positive state of mind.
Discovering your own stress levels, and your triggers can also be helpful.
Using your breathing to calm your stress levels. Deep, consistent, steady breaths help the mind flow properly, and can aid in deceasing stress.
Get enough sleep. Proper sleep (6-8 hours a night for adults) is extremely important. When you're physically tired, as well as mentally exhausted, everything can seem like a task and a half.
Gaining perspective on what you do and do not have control over is key. Does the person you are caring for have a terminal illness? Does he or she have a mental illness that they have been and will be suffering from for the rest of their lives? These things are out of your control.
Decide what is most important in your life. Try making a list of what you need in your life to get you through your stressful times (positive things) and a list of the things that could stand a change. Analyse this list with someone you trust.
Encourage dialogue daily. Talking about your stress can help vent the negative feelings.
If you find yourself in a deep state of Compassion Fatigue, we are here for you, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Simply pick up the phone and speak to one of our amazing volunteers at 613-238-3311.
Compassion Fatigue is nothing to be ashamed of! Call us today to get support during this difficult time.