Most of us have heard of burnout. It’s the uncomfortable sense that your job isn’t rewarding or enjoyable anymore; you dread going in to work and find yourself annoyed and irritated once you get there. For people in health care settings or those who take care of loved ones, burnout can also lead to compassion fatigue.
Compassion fatigue causes us to feel uncaring and unmoved by other people’s troubles and is similar in many ways to PTSD. It is the result of seeing suffering repeatedly and becoming emotionally exhausted by it. Some degree of emotional distance is appropriate; after all, if we become paralyzed with sadness, we won’t be able to take care of anyone. However, there is a balance between healthy detachment and appropriate compassion.
If you can relate to these statements, it might be time for you to address your situation.
There is a balance between healthy detachment and appropriate compassion.Colleen Arnold, MD
Do any of these statements sound familiar to you? If so, it could be a sign you are suffering from compassion fatigue. Although your situation may seem insurmountable, there are steps you can take to refresh yourself and regain perspective. For example, ask a friend to walk and talk. Or, read the Caregivers Prayer to remind you of the difference you are making. For more ideas to combat the effects of burnout while caregiving, consider the tips in the post, 8 Ways to Recover from Compassion Fatigue.
For more ideas, check out our archives on Self-Care.
About the author: Colleen Arnold is a family physician, a widow, and a mother of three young adult daughters. She enjoys hanging out with family, writing, reading, and walking. You can read her blog at ColleenArnold.org.
This post was adapted from an article written by Dr. Arnold for the Augusta Health LIFE Employee Wellness Facebook page, and is used with permission.