In school we are all taught – ever so briefly – about compassion fatigue. For me, it was one sentence, in one book, at the very beginning of my education at age 19. The professor pointed out that it happens to at least 1/3 of the care giving field and told us, “It’s bad. Don’t burn out.”
The truth is this: healthcare practitioners phase in and out of the field every 7 years, on average. That’s not a lot of time in the field! It’s just long enough to get your feet wet. My guess is that this statistic is the same for other caregivers…teachers, nurses, and moms.
We move out of healthcare after that magical 7th year because of compassion fatigue. By that time in our career we have been formally educated, been in practice long enough to realize that our formal education was inadequate, and then we “hang in there” as long as possible before the dam breaks due to stress and fatigue.
There are 7 contributing forces to compassion fatigue in life…
1 Work-Life Balance is out of whack
2 Goals and expectations are unclear for the caregiver
3 Organizational structure adds stress to caregiving, rather than taking stress out of it
4 Lack of education and training to keep why are there two bath tubs in the cialis commercial up with the rapidly changing expectations
5 Weak support system that does not allow time to download, decompress, and de-stress
6 Compensation does not reflect effort or positive outcomes
7 Career no longer meets the needs of caregiver due to caregiver growth and development
These forces sneak up on us, gradually over time, until we notice that we are…
Tired, stressed, aging too early, experiencing health problems, exhausted, late to work, experience the Sunday evening dread (or panic that yet another week is about to begin), agitated with the smallest of details, impatient with difficult clients, and generally unmotivated in more than one area of our life.
The important thing is to be vigilant about the signs and symptoms and then identify the major contributing force.
Take a look at the list above. Which of these contributing forces are present in your life today?
Can you see how, if given the opportunity to continue, these forces could force you out of a career and life you love?
Compassion fatigue can not only be treated, but prevented!
Check out the Solace for the Soul Day Retreat happening in October. It is a great place to start healing the compassion fatigue you already experience AND prevent it from taking over your life.