Is caring for others part of your job? Maybe you are a healthcare worker, faith leader, teacher, or non-profit leader who cares deeply about the people you serve, but sometimes you feel exhausted, frustrated, anxious, or irritable. If so, you may be experiencing compassion fatigue.
Compassion fatigue is a common response to the complex and overwhelming situations we may find ourselves in when working with people who have experienced trauma or other significant stressors in their lives.
Compassion fatigue refers to the emotional, physical, and spiritual exhaustion that comes from being consistently exposed to stressors in other peoples’ lives.
Signs you may be experiencing compassion fatigue may include:
- Emotional Exhaustion: Feeling overwhelmed, burned out, and emotionally drained from caring for others;
- Physical Exhaustion: Experiencing physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and difficulty sleeping;
- Spiritual Exhaustion: Feeling disconnected from your values, beliefs, and sense of purpose;
- Depersonalization: Feeling detached and removed from the people you are trying to help, and experiencing a decrease in empathy and compassion
- Challenges with Emotional Regulation: Feelings such as anger, frustration, sadness, and hopelessness may feel more intense and may make it more difficult to feel grounded;
- Decreased Sense of Self-Worth: Feeling that your work is unimportant and not making a difference.
The good news is that researchers have identified specific risk factors and protective factors for compassion fatigue and burnout. This means we can work on shifting our perspectives, learning new skills, and making small changes to our environment to reduce compassion fatigue. When protective factors for compassion fatigue are cultivated, compassion resilience can emerge—the ability to maintain our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being while compassionately caring for others.
People and workplaces that foster resilience on a regular basis create an environment where employees feel less stress, experience fewer feelings of imposter syndrome, are more socially connected, and find greater meaning in their work. This leads to greater work satisfaction, increased productivity, and less burnout/turnover.
In addition to providing one-on-one services to clients, we often get requests from organizations about how we can support their work and their employees. We care best for others when we ourselves feel supported, which is why we would be glad to partner with you to customize trainings, workshops, and support/education groups to support your employees and organization as you do the important work of caring for others.
Britt Riddle, MDiv, DMin, MAMFT, has over fifteen years of experience working in various helping professions and navigating and recovering from compassion fatigue and burnout. She specializes in working with people in helping professions who want to prevent or reduce compassion fatigue—by clarifying their values, nurturing inner peace, cultivating mindfulness practices and perspectives, and rediscovering what brings joy in their lives.
If you are interested in exploring compassion fatigue and compassion resilience, either for yourself or your organization, feel free to reach out to Britt and schedule a FREE 10-minute consultation online at your convenience.