When you provide care for someone else, it can be so easy to give too much of yourself away – both emotionally and physically – to provide the best care possible. Eventually, it’s easy to get burnt out and experience exhaustion, frustration, indifference, and a detachment from the person in your care. This issue can be referred to as compassion fatigue or secondary traumatic stress, and it can be harmful to your own wellbeing and also impact your ability to be as caring, warm, and nurturing as you need to be for the person you’re caring for.
As opposed to caregiver burnout, which often builds gradually over time, compassion fatigue can appear suddenly and unexpectedly. You might genuinely want to continue providing care and assistance, but you simply feel too weighed down.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, compassion fatigue may be the reason:
- Dreading your care duties, together with feelings of guilt
- Irritability, anger, and/or anxiety
- Fatigue (physically, mentally, or both)
- Problems with sleeping
- Less feelings of empathy or sympathy for the person in your care
- Difficulties with other relationships
- Problems with decision-making
- Isolation and disconnection from friends, family, and fun activities
- Questioning whether you’re achieving anything with your caregiving services
How to Conquer Compassion Fatigue
If any of those experiences sound like what you’ve been seeing in yourself, there are actions you can take to help.
- Write it down. Journaling is a wonderful way to let go of stress and work through difficult emotions and decisions. Reading back through your writings will allow you to pick up on any patterns in your thoughts. Perhaps you feel most fatigued late in the afternoon, and can reserve 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.
- Prioritize time for self-care. Taking proper care of yourself is not selfish; it’s necessary for your own wellness as well as the health and wellbeing of the person in your care. Make it a priority every single day to take part in pleasant activities, exercise, healthy eating, and conversations with friends and relatives.
- Get support. Join a caregiver support group, either in person or online, to allow you to talk through your feelings with others who understand and can share management techniques that have worked well for them.
- Place a numeric value on your emotions. Perform a quick self-assessment by ranking how you’re feeling every day on a scale of 1 – 10. If you find yourself in the 9 – 10 scope of compassion fatigue symptoms, talk with a professional therapist.
At Heaven at Home Senior Care, a trusted provider of companion care in Denton and the nearby areas, we’re always available to help you overcome compassion fatigue by serving as a compassionate partner in care. Our individualized in-home care services provide seniors with the pleasure of a friendly companion, while giving you much-needed time to yourself. Call us at (940) 380-0500, or contact us online to learn more!