Follow these 8 simple tricks to tackle Compassion Fatigue!
****Disclaimer: Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents mentioned in this post are either the products of my imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.******
DJ is a health care professional having a decent practice at AM Clinic. He loves his profession as he gets to meet people, heal them and give them a reason to live. For the past 6 months, however, he has been feeling drained out, has been found complaining about his practice with his peers, colleagues and friends. He and personal hygiene were synonymous, but the same cannot be said now, unfortunately! After multiple discussions with fellow doctors and a few medications, he has finally come to meet a therapist who he feels would understand him.
NM: Hello DJ, how are we doing today?
DJ: Hello, doctor I am good! No in fact, I am pretty down, and I don’t know what’s happening!!
NM: Alright, we’ll find it out together. Please address me as NM – I am not a doctor.
DJ: Oh ok I though therapists are doctors. Anyway, how do we start?
NM: Tell me what has been happening.
DJ: For the past 6 months, I am feeling emotionally low and feel like there is nothing else for me to give in life. I am unable to concentrate. I would still want to give 100% to my clients but somehow I am unable to connect with them – this is something I would do naturally! I am afraid that I may lose my patients.
NM: When did this fear first hit you?
DJ: I love my work and I love my patients. In fact, I don’t see them as patients – my job is to heal them and make them happy. That is how I have been healing them. In these last 10 years, I had the privilege of healing more than 1,000 people – I would heal their injury, I would console them and many a times I also had to break the bad news to them.
NM: I see. Breaking bad news would have been really tough, right?
DJ: Yes, of course! I could feel their pain, but I am a doctor and I had to break the bad news to them! I would often console my patients – and give them all the support they needed.
NM: That is such a lovely gesture doctor! You should be proud of yourself!
DJ: No, it’s my job! However, off late I found myself being detached from my patients and have become cranky. People have told me that I seem chronically depressed and may be at a risk of committing suicide. Please help me!
NM: Relax doc! From what you have told me you do not seem to be chronically depressed. You are a victim of Compassion Fatigue, and we will work together on helping you transform your compassion fatigue into compassion satisfaction!
So, what do you think happened in there?
It was a clear case of Compassion Fatigue and many health care professionals like doctors, veterinarians, psychotherapists, counselors, etc are a higher risk of experiencing compassion fatigue.
What is Compassion Fatigue?
Compassion Fatigue is also commonly known as Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS). Compassion Fatigue is the result of a strong relationship between the healthcare practitioner (doctor, vet, nurses, etc) and the patient, where empathy on the healthcare professional’s part allows him to carry the pain and illness of the sick person. Sometimes, it may also happen due to over exposure to traumatic situations like death, emergency cases, euthanasia (vets), dealing with multiple ailing patients, etc.
Is Compassion Fatigue dangerous?
Yes and No! If it is addressed at the right time using appropriate methods, then it is not dangerous! If, however, it is ignored it may lead to depression or other psychological illnesses and may also force the person to have suicidal thoughts! It is essential that the person facing this problem, acknowledges this issue and takes appropriate measures to tackle it!
Symptoms of Compassion Fatigue
- A person may feel emotionally low
- May become cranky or irritable
- Feeling of hopelessness (lack of empathy)
- Difficulty in concentration
- Physical ailments (gas related problems, headaches, lethargy, etc)
- Loss of self-hygiene
Compassion Fatigue can be tackled using these 8 simple tricks!
Step 1: ensure that you meet your basic needs on a daily basis – healthy nutrition, physical exercise and a good night sleep
Step 2: Start maintaining a journal to document your thoughts, feelings, fears and behaviours that may be affecting you or the people around you. Awareness is the key to success! This trick always works as it allows you to throw the garbage out of your system. Ensure that you don’t analyze your feelings or thoughts – else it may defeat the purpose of healing your pain!
Step 3: Practice Meditation. Either sign up for a Mindfulness Retreat program (many institutes offer such programs) or download an app on your phone (For e.g. the “Calm” app available on Iphone is brilliant. It is slightly expensive but worth the price!)
Step 4: Meet up with friends and share your thoughts and feelings. Share it only with those who you feel would understand you. Stay away from jerks who would mock at you!
Step 5: Meet a counselor and sign him/her up for a few months until you resolve your issue.
Step 6: Maintain your own hygiene and don’t forget to flash your smile (this is the most basic trick – which usually does wonders!)
Step 7: Visualization and Affirmation – visualize yourself in a positive state. See how it feels. Write down your visualization and convert it into an affirmation. Read it aloud, record it and listen to it every day. You will see changes within a month or so (provided you do it diligently and positively).
Step 8: Remind yourself about your purpose in life. This will help you remain connected to your true love and enable you to convert your compassion fatigue into compassion satisfaction!
Feel free to share this with someone who may be experiencing Compassion Fatigue. I conduct FREE sessions to help people heal their pain, fear, stress and anxiety. (This offer is valid until Mar 2019 only. Starting April 2019 all my sessions will be on chargeable basis)
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