Do you feel easily overwhelmed or over-stimulated when there is a lot going on around you?
Are you easily affected by the moods and emotions of others and seem to pick up their energy?
Has your enthusiasm you once had for life and work waned into exhaustion and disillusionment?
If you can relate to these feelings, you may be experiencing “compassion fatigue.”
Those most vulnerable to compassion fatigue are front-line workers and those who work intimately or “hands on” with others. When you help people, you have direct contact with their lives.
Henry Neils, Founder of Assessment.com describes compassion fatigue as, “The emotional residue of exposure to working with the suffering. Professionals who work with this population contend not only with normal stress of work, but the emotional and personal feelings of those they work with.
Compassion fatigue is NOT burnout. Burnout is associated with stress hassles involved in your work. ”
He goes on to say that, “Compassion fatigue is a state of tension and preoccupation with the individual or cumulative trauma of clients. You are absorbing the trauma through the eyes and ears of your clients and can be thought of as secondary post traumatic stress. ”
Awareness of your susceptibility to compassion fatigue is the first step in recognizing how it may be affecting your emotional and physical well-being. Being “aware” means being attuned to your own needs, limits, emotions, and inner and other resources to draw on as ways to cope.
Signs of compassion fatigue may include:
- Anger / resentment
- Adrenalin driven
- Headaches and stomach issues
- Feeling helpless
- Sleep issues
- Quick fix eating or not eating at all
- Impaired immune system
This weakened spirit can result in reduced enthusiasm and motivation for the work that once inspired you and further results in deteriorating job performance. You may find yourself using more sick time, with a decrease in overall health.
When you become over involved in your work and serving others, you start to leak energy and end up feeling drained. You start experiencing an internal conflict between meeting your needs versus meeting the needs of others.
An “energy leak” is a habit or behavior pattern that bleeds your vitality and gives nothing back. A necessary responsibility will absolutely lead you toward your goal, whereas an energy leak will not.
Some questions to consider:
Where are you being too accommodating?
Where do you sense a conflict? Is there “drama” being created?
Are you “too busy” to take better care of yourself? Would you not stop for gas because you're too busy driving? Of course not! You know you need to fill up your tank for the long haul.
Being busy lends to self-sabotaging behavior where you overextend yourself in an ego-driven way fueled by adrenalin to “get things done” in this false sense of urgency. A car without gas will stop. It's not broken it just needs to get refurbished. This goes for you, too.
When you are power-full, full of spirit, pure energy, you are unlikely to be vulnerable to negative or lower forms of energy.
5 Ways to Start Building Resistance Now:
- Practice this Healing Mantra: “I am full of health and vitality. Every day I gain more self-clarity and knowledge as I make time to stay in tune with my higher self. I unconditionally love and accept myself completely in every way and this strengthens my being. ”
- Place a green leafy plant next to your bed. It will replenish you as you sleep.
- Take your breaks and relax or get some fresh air. Do not use your breaks to run errands, check email, or phone messages.
- Eat healthy foods that nourish you and boost your vitality.
- Make your mental and spiritual health a priority.
If you work in a helping profession and are experiencing increased anxiety, exhaustion, apathy, stress, or perfectionism you need meaningful engagement in life and career. It's time to regroup and engage self-care practices.
Once you engage in activities that build resilience you can expect increased concentration, decision-making, problem solving, more confidence, clearer thinking, boosted motivation and enthusiasm, and increased energy. Inner work allows outer work to be effortless.
Remember to stop as often as necessary to re-connect your energy. Downtime is required to regroup and replenish. Do not undervalue this! Stay in your place of compassion and do not wear yourself out with it.
Balance compassion for others with self-compassion. Know that once you achieve this state of love, nothing or anyone can pull more energy from you than you can replace. You must stay conscious of this process for it to work, especially when you interact with people.