Compassion Fatigue and How To Mediate It
I was recently a tutor at my college, and we talked about compassion fatigue during a training session. I was so mind-blown by the information, and I think it’ll resonate with you. Full disclosure: I’m absolutely, by no means, an expert in this kind of topic; I’m simply sharing some cool information I learned recently! So here you go, everything I’ve learned about compassion fatigue, as well as some things you can do combat it.
Compassion fatigue is what comes about when we exhaust our abilities to care for others. We spend and give so much energy, time, and effort in caring for someone else that we fully forget to care for ourselves. Some symptoms of compassion fatigue include:
- lack of motivation
- low energy
- a reduced ability to empathize and sympathize with others
By now, you’ve probably read this and thought “This is so me” or maybe it reminds you of someone you know. Compassion fatigue can happen in so many different situations: taking care of a loved one, consoling a friend after a difficult event, working a socially draining or intense job, or even if you’re simply just trying to be a kinder, more compassionate person. We all overcompensate, sometimes.
Compassion fatigue is pervasive and very, very real, but we often don’t even realize we are dealing with it. As humans we also tend to not give ourselves enough credit! We may think that we’re not doing anything special or we’re just doing what we have to, but that doesn’t mean that any strains that arise from it aren’t a legitimate consequence and sign that you need to slow down and take care of yourself.
How to combat compassion fatigue:
- Set and enforce emotional boundaries. Look out for your wellbeing and don’t feel bad making it a priority!
- Indulge in self-care and hobbies. Doing things *for you* and nobody else, with no expectations for how well you should be doing it, is SO good for the soul.
- Cope with stress positively. This might include journaling, venting to an available (extra emphasis on available!) loved or trusted individual, joining support groups, exercising, or spending time with friends.
- Speak with a mental health professional, such as a therapist or counselor. There should never be any shame in seeking out professional help. No matter how big or small the problem is, if you want and need it and have the means/position to attain it, go for it!
At its heart, it’s really just about us wanting to care for others so strongly and *compassionately* that we forget to care for ourselves. Taking on someone else’s situation and helping them is incredibly rewarding for all parties involved, but it can get so draining. While it might be tempting to fight through the fatigue and keep going, we have to remember that we are only as good of help to the other person as we are to ourselves. If we can’t help ourselves, then we certainly can’t help them, as least as much as we may want to. To nurture someone to our fullest potential means we must nurture ourselves first, and for many of us that also means unlearning the idea that putting yourself first is selfish.
With all that being said, I hope this little article with the little bit of knowledge I have was of some value to you! As always, thank you for reading.
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