Winnie's Blog

Compassion Fatigue ~ Part Two

Last time I shared about the reality and warning signs of Compassion Fatigue, something commonly experienced by people in helping careers.

If any of this resonated with you, there are some ways to help prevent it. Often Compassion Fatigue is something that creeps up on us. We don?t even really see it until it has already overwhelmed us. The following information comes from Francoise Mathieu, a Certified Mental Health Counsellor and Compassion Fatigue Specialist. Mathieu designed a prevention toolkit to allow you to create some better self-care strategies. Everyone is different so what works for you might not work for someone else.

Here are some questions that will make you more self- aware and get you started:

?What are my warning signs? (On a scale of 1 to 10, what is a 4 for me and what is a 9?)

?How Am I Doing? (Schedule a regular check in, every week.)

?What things do I have control over?

?What things do I not have control over?

?What stress relief strategies do I enjoy? (Taking a bath, a walk, sleeping well or a massage).

Strategies for your workplace:

?Talk about it. By openly discussing and recognizing compassion fatigue at work, employees who serve others can normalise this problem. This will give you and other?s permission to take steps to prevent compassion fatigue.

?Create an encouraging environment. Some helpful things a workplace can offer are: proper debriefing, regular breaks, mental health days, peer support, assessing and changing workloads, improved access to professional development and regular check-in-times where staff can safely discuss the impact of their work on their professional and private lives.

?Where possible break up your work day or work part time. Working part time, only seeing clients or patients part time and doing other activities the rest of the workday can be a very effective method to prevent compassion fatigue.

Strategies for your personal life:

?Improve your self-care. Most caregivers put their needs last and feel guilty for taking extra time off to care for themselves. You can?t pour into others if you are running on empty.

?Find balance. Is there balance between depleting and nourishing activities in your life? Make the time to meditate, exercise, pursue non-work interests and experience personal debriefing.

?Observe your coping mechanisms. How are you coping? Are you able to give out at home or are you too depleted to participate in your home life? Are you relying on alcohol, food or other unhealthy things to de-stress?

For more information about coping with Compassion Fatigue visit: www.cmc-consulting.ca

By Sharon Osvald in Collaboration with Winnie Visser

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Principles for Real Living:

  1. I am responsible for my own attitude
  2. My attitude affects my actions
  3. I can not change others, but I can influence others
  4. My emotions do not control my actions
  5. Admitting my imperfections does not mean that I'm a failure
  6. Love is the most powerful weapon for good in the world

Desperate Marriages by Gary Chapman, Northfield Publishing, Chicago 1998, 2008