For many on the front lines of health care, caregiving and emergency response, it is normal to experience compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue is characterized as feeling physically and emotionally exhausted, and a decreased ability to empathize. While this condition is typically associated with those in the health care field, it can impact anyone assuming a caregiver role.
Taking steps early on to address compassion fatigue can help prevent burnout and improve mental and physical health.
Recognize the signs.
While specific experiences will vary, common symptoms include chronic physical and emotional exhaustion, reduced ability to empathize, anger and irritability, diminished sense of joy or fulfillment in career, and difficulty with decision-making.
Conduct a self-assessment.
There are some helpful self-assessment tools for life stress, work-life balance, and professional quality of life (ProQOL) that can provide insight and awareness. ACI’s employee assistance program (EAP) can provide referrals for specific tests and tools to help with your situation.
Prioritize sleep and self care.
A combination of quality sleep, nutritious eating, and moderate physical activity each day can make a significant impact on total well-being. So many caregivers take care of everyone else, yet put their own needs on the backburner. Practicing self-care improves the ability to continue providing care to others.
Identify a daily practice for recharging.
Create time and space for quiet, rest, rejuvenation and mindfulness each day. A few minutes of breathing meditation exercises in the morning, a midday yoga break, or afternoon walk while listening to music are examples of simple daily practices for recharging.
Talk to a professional.
Speaking with a licensed mental health professional can help provide clarity and tools to address and manage compassion fatigue. ACI’s EAP provides confidential access to mental health clinicians, and the service is free to use and open to all family members. Video chat sessions are available for convenient access to service.
For personal support, contact ACI’s EAP at 800.932.0034 or firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.