Caregivers give up so much of themselves for the sake of the ones they care for – both emotionally and physically. It’s easy to become worn down and to start to experience feelings like apathy, exhaustion, and a withdrawal from the person in your care. This is often known as compassion fatigue or secondary traumatic stress, and it can be harmful to your own health and wellbeing. It could also hinder your ability to be as warm, nurturing, and caring as you need to be for the person you’re caring for.
Contrary to caregiver burnout, which develops progressively over time, compassion fatigue can arise abruptly and unexpectedly. Essentially, although you may genuinely want to continue providing warm, compassionate care, you feel too overwhelmed to do so.
If you feel any of the following symptoms, compassion fatigue may be the culprit:
- Dreading your care duties, along with feelings of guilt
- Fatigue (physically, mentally, or both)
- Anger, anxiety, and/or irritability
- Less feelings of sympathy or empathy for the person in your care
- Problems with sleeping
- Difficulties with other relationships
- Isolation and disconnection from friends, family, and fun activities
- Decision-making difficulties
- Wondering whether you’re achieving anything with your caregiving services
How to Overcome Compassion Fatigue
If those symptoms sound familiar, there are steps you can take to help alleviate some of the fatigue.
- Designate time for self-care. Taking proper care of yourself is not self-centered; it’s required for your own health as well as the health and wellbeing of the person in your care. Make it a top priority every single day to spend time in pleasant activities, physical exercise, healthy eating, and conversations with friends and family.
- Rate your emotions. Take a basic self-assessment by ranking how you’re feeling every day on a scale of 1 – 10. If you are finding your answers in the 9-10 of compassion fatigue symptoms, speak with a professional therapist.
- Practice journaling. Journaling is a wonderful way to release stress and work through challenging emotions and decisions. Looking back over your entries will allow you to keep track of any patterns in your feelings. Maybe you feel most depleted late in the day, and can schedule a few minutes each day at that time to pray, meditate, listen to relaxing music, take a walk – whatever works best to help you de-stress.
- Get support. Enroll with a caregiver support group, whether in person or virtually, to allow you to discuss your feelings with people in similar situations and can share coping skills that have worked well for them.
The top-rated provider of home care in Mesa and the nearby areas, Endeavor In-Home Care, is here to help you relieve yourself of compassion fatigue by serving as your partner in care. Our personalized in-home care services provide seniors with the pleasure of a friendly companion, while giving you much-needed time to yourself. Contact us online, or call us at (480) 498-2324 to learn more.