Caregiving for a loved one can takes its toll. How to avoid Compassion Fatigue.
A life lived with compassion for others is a wonderful thing, yet why do the people we love the most seem to be the first to annoy, frustrate, and discourage us?
If you find yourself losing patience, finding fault with everyone around you, and feeling more and more detached from your loves ones and caregiving responsibilities, you may be suffering from Compassion Fatigue. Here are ways to identify compassion fatigue, address it, and create compassion stamina. Be compassionate with yourself and take the time to learn the symptoms as well as the remedy.
What is Compassion Fatigue?
Ironically, if you spend most of your day running a household, caregiving for an elderly person, or work in a helping profession you may have never heard about compassion fatigue. The process of caring for others can be emotionally and physically draining. If only compassion didn’t come with a price, but when we continually reach out to others who need our help we put ourselves at risk for feeling stressed out, hopeless, and chronically tired. We may also experience self-doubt, anxiety, and negative thoughts about ourselves and those around us. Even if we refocus our efforts, be more loving and more dedicated to those around us, it doesn’t work. Fatigue sets in, and our compassion begins to check out. Compassion Fatigue is the loss of ability to love and support those around us due to constant, ongoing caregiving responsibiilities. First step to doing something about it is knowing you have it!
Why is everyone else so annoying?
Good possibility that there are annoying situations in your life. But when you find everyone and everything annoying than you may be tired of giving out all the good vibes. Quick to argue? Tuning out when you should be tuning in? Could be that all the compassion you provide is taking a toll on your patience.
I’m always so tired
We aren’t built for round-the-clock compassion. We may even have spiritual, religious values that speak to caring for others in a selfless way. Nothing wrong with that, unless that is all you are doing! From a physical standpoint we need rest, rejuvenation. Even Mother Theresa was fatigued, so don’t take it personally when you don’t have the energy to care as much as you want to. We simply need our rest.
I hate what I’m doing
Whether it’s a relationship or job caring for others when we are exhausted and stressed from caring we begin to resent what we care about. Most classically defined as “burn-out” in the job market, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important to us, what motivates us, when we continually give to others and lack the time to recover and recuperate. This feeling feeds into being resentful, angry, and annoyed with the ones we care for, and may cause detachment and ambivalence towards the people we care about the most.
I’m don’t think I can do this anymore
Finally, we reach a point where we can’t sustain the effort, we haven’t taken a break, and there is no end in sight to our responsibilities caring for others. Hopelessness may set in, and we lose faith in our own abilities to care for others, which compounds the stress and negativity we are already experiencing.
Get back your Compassion
Give yourself a break, literally!
Find a moment to simply enjoy doing something that you like to do, whether it’s reading a romance novel, taking a walk, or going to the mall. It’s important to value your time outside of caring for others. It may help you to know that by giving yourself this gift, ironically, in the long run you will be more present and able to care for others. You deserve the same care and concern others receive from you.
Talk to Someone
Caring for others at times can be a very isolating experience. Even those close to you may not understand the constant demand and energy required to take care of those in need. It’s important you have the opportunity to share the highs and lows of your caregiving experiences. Often it can be helpful to talk to a psychologist who will be able to provide you with support and resources that can help with compassion fatigue.
Take your Laughter Seriously
Look for the humor in the process of being there for those around you. I have yet to meet a caregiver or helping professional who hasn’t had a few funny stories to share. I recall a 92-year old man whom when meeting females, whether it was a family friend, nurse or other helping professional would always begin the conversation by saying, “I would like to say hello to you, but words escape me in the presence of such beauty.” Laughter is a great stress relief, and has great benefits for your physical health and emotional well being.
Turn Compassion Fatigue into Compassion Stamina
By giving yourself the gift of time spent doing things you enjoy, sharing your experiences with others, and finding humor in your daily routines you will begin to feel a resurgence in motivation and compassion that you felt in the past. If you’re still struggling with compassion fatigue and can’t seem to regain your compassion for others, I would urge to seek the assistance of a psychologist. One way or another, getting through compassion fatigue and experiencing compassion stamina is a great feeling! You can get there if you give yourself the gift of compassion that you unselfishly provide to others. As unnatural as it may initially feel, being kind, patient, and thoughtful with yourself and your feelings will in the end fuel your ability to care for others and put you in better touch with the love and connectedness of those around you.