Compassion Fatigue, Do You Have It?

Compassion fatigue has been described as "the cost" of caring about the emotional difficulties of others. With its global pandemic and social unrest, 2020 has already been an emotionally challenging year. It's easy to assume that many of us might be suffering from some degree of “care overload.”

When showing compassion becomes tiring or difficult, it can be compared to a low fuel light in our cars - a flashing confirmation that we are running on the fumes of an empty tank. No one expects a car to run without fuel, but we often expect ourselves to run indefinitely without a fill-up. When we run low on physical or emotional non-negotiables we're left unable to care for those who need us, including ourselves.

Recognizing the signs of compassion fatigue

Feeling depressed, exhausted, restless, or emotionally overloaded can all be symptoms of compassion fatigue. When any negative emotion eclipses the feelings of happiness, pride or satisfaction that usually accompany helping, that's our sign that it's time to focus on our own emotional health.

Practicing self compassion

If you sometimes feel buried under an influx of of unsettling news, that's completely normal. Taking a break from the TV, computer, and phone can help quiet the noise in our hearts and minds. Adequate rest, nutrition, physical activity, and spending downtime in enjoyable activities are all necessary in regard to keeping our compassion reserves full and ready. Being gentle and forgiving with ourselves when we are able to give our all to others, as well as when we’re not, is the first step toward a good outward compassion/self compassion balance. 

Examining our beliefs about self care

We live in a time of being continuously informed and connected. Overtime and weekend work are the norm. We applaud people for pulling an all-nighter, but rarely congratulate anyone for resting up. We should never feel guilty for recognizing when it’s time to tend to our own wellbeing. The gift of a long hike immersed in the beauty of nature, a fragrant bath, or time together with friends are all beautiful ways of turning our empathy inward in a way that benefits ourselves and those who depend upon us.

By being aware of the warning signs of compassion fatigue, you can prevent it, treat it, and continue to do the loving work that you do as Thistle Farmers — making the world a better, safer place one act of compassion at a time. 


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