Most people are patient, compassionate, and ready to help our fellow human beings. Those are wonderful qualities, and yet they can cause problems for some. This is due to the common issue of compassion fatigue. Even the kindest and most giving among us can only extend such generosity for so long before it takes a toll.
If you are a family caregiver, or work in a role where you deal with people who are under considerable physical or mental strain, consider the following suggestions, which can help you avoid compassion fatigue.
Caregivers give so much of themselves, they often cross the line and end up paying the price. It is imperative to find time in your schedule, no matter the responsibilities, where you can just relax, forget your problems, and do something that you find interesting and fulfilling. This will allow you to maintain the physical and mental stability needed to continue providing quality care.
If you are a compassionate person, it can become easy to get caught up in other people’s problems. There needs to be a clear line in place dividing a desire to help from getting too emotionally involved. As with self-care, such boundaries are necessary to maintain your own well-being.
Have Coping Strategies in Place
Have you ever felt particularly down and desperate? If so, what did you do? It is important to know where you can turn if you ever reach such a dark emotional place. Know which friends and family members are eager to lend you emotional support when needed. Which community agencies can you contact, if need be? Keep their phone numbers handy.
Take these positive, proactive steps instead of relying on short term, feel good fixes like drugs or alcohol. Relying on crutches like these is the equivalent of putting a band aid on a major wound.
Maintain Your Interests
As mentioned above in the self-care section, it is important to maintain as much of your “normal” life as possible. Stay in regular touch with friends, maintain gym and club memberships, get together with others who have similar hobbies, etc. There is a world going on outside of your caregiving duties; make sure to stay a part of it.