On a day to day basis, nurses have a lot to take on. Juggling the responsibilities of caring for patients, keeping records updated, communicating to doctors and working extensive shifts.
All of these challenges can lead to both physical fatigue and eventually, compassion fatigue.
What is Compassion Fatigue?
According to CompasionFatigue.org
“Compassion Fatigue is a state experienced by helping people or animals in distress; it is an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it can create a secondary traumatic stress for the helper.”
For most people, the symptoms can be hiding in plain sight:
- A sensation of feeling overwhelmed when dealing with patients
- Struggling to manage the emotions that arise from patient deaths
- Having to balance the demands of doctors and family members while performing day to day tasks
- Being urged to discharge patients as quickly as possible.
If any of these seem to resonate with you, you’re not alone.
Many nurses experience compassion fatigue from time to time and struggle to relax and recharge when they have time off.
Compassion fatigue occurs because of a nurse’s exposure to their patients’ problems and their empathy that they hold for them. This combination can lead to a nurse falling into a deep unhappiness that may seem difficult to avoid.
Combating Compassion Fatigue
To recap, there are several coping mechanisms that you can use to handle compassion fatigue or even prevent it.
- Remember to take time out for yourself. Read something you enjoy or watch something to make you laugh. It’s important to leave time for you.
- Stay healthy. Try to exercise several times a week and eat healthy. If your body feels healthy, so will your mind.
- Don’t try to fight every battle. Choose the battles that are worth fighting.
- Stay positive. If you fill your mind with positive thoughts, then you will quickly begin to see positive change!
Do You Have Compassion Fatigue?
Healthyplace.com has created a quick assessment to determine if someone has compassion fatigue or not. Unsure if you have compassion fatigue? Head over and give it a try.
These are only several ways to overcome compassion fatigue. Check out the Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project athttp://www.compassionfatigue.org/ to learn more.
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