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What are the Best Tips for Treating Compassion Fatigue?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 16 December 2019
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Treating compassion fatigue is vital for both those suffering from it, as well as for people who receive their care. It has been repeatedly identified that people who provide significant care for others, such as in the capacity of a therapist or hospice nurse, can become burned out over time. This leads to intense stress that may affect their ability to take care of others. It costs some people their jobs since they can no longer function well in their work environment.

Recognizing compassion fatigue is the first step in treatment. People should look for signs of it if they work in fields where the emotional toll of caring for patients or others is significant. The first signs of this condition might be a sense of hating work, apathy in the work environment, or unusual moods and stress that arise even in non-working situations. Compassion fatigue may be more severe, and people develop conditions like panic disorder or posttraumatic stress from witnessing extremely horrific circumstances when they were trying to help. For most people, sensing elevated stress levels or looking at signs of stress like weight changes, poor sleep, and mood changes can signify compassion fatigue. Catching it early by being self-aware will allow people to adopt strategies to help reduce it.

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One tool in treating compassion fatigue is peer group participation. Mental health therapists or other experts might direct these groups and teach strategies for stress reduction. Some peer groups have greater focus on simply allowing peers to talk with each other, relying on the understanding and empathy people can share with each other when they share the same profession. A few groups join the two conceptual approaches together. Although making a connection with others suffering from compassion fatigue is very helpful in most circumstances, some people feel more comfortable working with individual therapists.

Other useful tools to treat compassion fatigue include working on increasing self awareness, and making small changes that reduce stress. Creating transitions between work and home, and doing self-rewarding or self-comforting things like taking a relaxing aromatherapy bath or going on vacation are all helpful as well. People are usually advised to learn how to simplify their lives and how to say no to too many requests. Basic self-care strategies are stressed too, since people who are suffering from this condition may easily forget to eat properly, take breaks, sleep properly, and get exercise. In all, treatment relies on the principle that people have difficulty caring for others when not caring for the self.

When these tips for treating compassion fatigue are not enough, sometimes it’s advised folks reduce their work hours, or move to another area of care that is less challenging. It’s true that some people are so fatigued they feel it necessary to leave their careers. Sometimes this is the best solution and workers may enjoy a career change or find they can later return to work invigorated.

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