First of all, what is compassion fatigue?
I would describe compassion fatigue as feeling emotionally and mentally tired or empty and where you see something harsh, you may not have anything left in the tank to show empathy or care. I don’t think this makes you a bad person or humanity “bad” or “good”…it is simply the point where you you may have reached your limit and this point is a sign to take a step back.
In this age of information overload and overwhelm, it is easy to get to a state of compassion fatigue. Particularly if we are constantly connected to news and bombarded with one bad news story after another and feel like hope is all but lost. I’m not asking you to live in denial and pretend there is not darkness in the world. There is. When you take care of yourself, you can help to create light in the world SO THAT you can become more intentional in the world and see what’s not working and be able to find solutions and create light.
There are some roles as well that may burn people out quickly. Like being a carer, a vet, doctor, nurse, counsellor, reporter or even debt collection where you see people in various states of wellness, illness and distress. Or working in an environment of constant stress like hospitality, advertising or media. I worked in advertising for several years and saw a high turnover of staff. Working in debt collection meant we were constantly looking for staff because people were burnt out.
Signs of compassion fatigue highlighted by Open Colleges include:
- Emotional exhaustion
- Decreased work performance
Disconnecting can be a way to cope or survive. Yet, it is not a sustainable long-term strategy.
Compassion Fatigue Australia is dedicated to empowering organisations to support staff in high stress work environments to avoid compassion fatigue which in turn can lead to mental illness and in some instances, suicides. Outside of work, our home environments and friendship circles can be a source of comfort, or can lead to more stress.
- How are the spaces that you move in supporting you right now?
- How much time do you spend on social media and how does that affect your wellbeing?
- How much news do you consume?
- Where do you go when you are stressed and need support?
- What do you do when you reach a point of emotional and mental exhaustion?
Being in a pandemic is the perfect melting pot for compassion fatigue and burnout. How are you supporting yourself as we navigate this chapter of our lives?
October is World Mental Health Month and a time to reflect about where you are, where we are and be mindful of the signs of compassion fatigue and burnout.
As a yoga teacher, I will always be here to offer yoga and meditation ideas and to encourage you to:
- Switch off from social media and news from time to time.
- Get back to basics: with enough sleep, water, food, hugs and time moving your body in nature.
- Connect in real life with the ones you love.
- Meditate. Be.
- Feel the highs and lows of life. Sometimes we can numb our feelings as a survival mechanism.
- Allow yourself to settle into your body, move and breathe. Yoga is an embodied practice.
- Say no. This is a time for you to find your boundaries.
- Believe in yourself and your ability to make an impact.
Why? Cos this can help. Help to reset and bring you from a heightened state back to a neutral state. Fill up your tank to be able to show up in the world the way you want to. To act with intention and solutions in mind, listening deeply to your intuition.