Compassion fatigue is the emotional or physical exhaustion that happens to people once they’ve been exposed to a lot of tragedy or suffering. This is common for nurses, social workers, counselors because they encounter sad stories frequently on the job. However, it is not normal for everyday people to feel this.
Now that we are living life under quarantine, the same rules don’t apply. Compassion fatigue is being felt by you and I both these days. A couple weeks ago, I had no clue that my unstable moods and anxiety streaming from wanting to help people but not knowing how to help, was a form of compassion fatigue. I was suffering yet didn’t know how to identify with it. It feels refreshing and relieving to know there is a name for it and that I am not alone.
When you consider what’s happening in the world around us, compassion fatigue isn’t much of a surprise.. There’s an onslaught of bad news all over our social media feeds, local news, or from our families and friends. There’s never a shortage of heartbreaking images and stories because it’s a dismal time right now. We’re in the middle of a freaking pandemic! We’re nervous, unsure, stressed and ready to go outside.!
It’s hard to deal with something you may have never experienced before, and honestly there really isn’t a cure or ‘solution’, only things you can do to manage it:
Limit your news consumption
It’s important to stay informed, so you should still be reading news but you don’t need to read ALL of it. If you need to, skimp on the details. The news is there to tell you about what’s going on, not depress you! Know your limits. A half hour a day is good enough. Shoot, maybe even skip a day and focus on keeping your peace and calm.
Do random acts of kindness
Go grocery shopping for high-risk people in your community, donate to local Mutual Aid groups or get involved in one way or another. No act of kindness is too small and it will help you feel in control, as well as positive for injecting some good energy into the lives of others. For the most part, I cook my meals myself. But on Fridays, I order curbside pickup service from a local catering company. It gives me a break from the kitchen, infuses delicious variety in my meals and helps keep a small business operating. Win win win!
If you’re able to have food and shelter, consider yourself fortunate If you can stay home and have no impediments in your salary, you are blessed. Times may be rough right now, but appreciating the basic necessities is key to keeping your sanity.
Compassion fatigue is overwhelming, especially in times of crisis. The great part is, you can manage through it and prevail by changing the way you engage the world and yourself in small ways. Taking things day by day is the way forward.
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