Use these tips to combat compassion fatigue

Use these strategies to combat emotional fatigue.People who work in the field of health care, whether they are physicians or have a career in medical assisting, are the caregivers of patients. Filling this role means working in an emotionally challenging environment and doing your best to affect positive change while caring for others. Compassion fatigue is a very real problem for health care providers, and symptoms like depression, exhaustion and frequent headaches can affect your ability to care of patients.1 Fortunately, there are simple things you can do to combat compassion fatigue and keep it from getting out of control:

Meditate

While it may seem odd for someone who works in western medicine to take up an eastern cure like meditation, it can actually do a great deal to rejuvenate your spirit. When you deal with so many people who are in pain on a daily basis, it can become emotionally exhausting. Meditation helps you recharge and puts you in touch with your feelings so they can be addressed. Try meditating for 20 minutes before each shift and see if it makes a difference.2

Take care of yourself

When you work in health care, you often spend the majority of your time taking care of others. However, if you’re going to avoid compassion fatigue, it’s important that you also take care of yourself. Things as simple as maintaining a healthy diet and exercising on a regular basis can do wonders to reduce stress and help you keep your emotions in balance.3

Strive for balance

While your work is certainly important, it can’t mean everything. Striving for balance in your life will help you combat compassion fatigue by giving you other things to look forward to each day. Spend plenty of time with friends and family after your shift has ended, take a dance class or catch a baseball game. Bringing joy into all areas of your life will help you avoid emotional burnout.4

Set aside quiet time

Being a caregiver can take a lot out of you, so it’s important to spend some quiet time alone each day. This can take many forms, from taking a bubble bath to reading a good book for a half hour or so. Spending quiet time by yourself can help you achieve spiritual harmony and decompress after a hectic day.5

1 Pfifferling PhD et al., John-Henry, American Academy of Family Physicians, ‘Overcoming Compassion Fatigue,’ April 2000 – http://www.aafp.org/fpm/2000/0400/p39.html
2 Lampert, Lynda, Scrubs Magazine, ‘Unconventional ways to relieve compassion fatigue,’ July 9, 2013 – http://scrubsmag.com/unconventional-ways-to-relieve-compassion-fatigue/
3 Pfifferling PhD et al., John-Henry, American Academy of Family Physicians, ‘Overcoming Compassion Fatigue,’ April 2000 – http://www.aafp.org/fpm/2000/0400/p39.html
4 Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project, ‘Your Continuing Journey,’ 2013 – http://www.compassionfatigue.org/pages/nextsteps.html
5 Pfifferling PhD et al., John-Henry, American Academy of Family Physicians, ‘Overcoming Compassion Fatigue,’ April 2000 – http://www.aafp.org/fpm/2000/0400/p39.html