Sick Of Other People’s Problems? You May Be Experiencing Compassion Fatigue

Working in a role that requires you to be empathetic and help others all day can be draining at the best of times. Add a pandemic to the mix and care workers suddenly have a lot on their plate.
It’s only natural that dealing with your own challenges and stressors as well as taking care of others might be too much at points. You might find yourself feeling detached from other people’s suffering and problems. This doesn’t make you a bad person, you may be experiencing compassion fatigue and there are things that you can do about it!  
Compassion fatigue is a second hand stress response that is common in jobs where empathy and compassion are required daily. In other words, it is a response to being overwhelmed by experiencing the problems, pain or suffering of others consistently.  

Compassion fatigue may look like: 
  • Feeling burdened by the problems of others 
  • A reduced sense of meaning in work  
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Irritability 
  • Hopelessness or powerlessness  
  • Poor self care 
  • Fatigue  
  • Headaches 

If you think this might be you there are things you can do:

You can’t pour from an empty cup. The solution to being exhausted from caring is not to care less, it’s to make sure that you’re doing things that replenish and take care of you and reducing things that are burdening you. Some ways you might do this could be: 

By limiting your exposure to the news and other media forms – the news is often very negative, if you’re already feeling overloaded try and reduce your news intake if you find it’s making you feel worse  

Reassure yourself that this is a normal response to experiencing suffering and be kind to yourself rather than critical. 

At the end of each day, take a moment to think of three things that you’re grateful for - gratitude is a great wellbeing boost  

Talk to the people around you about how you’re feeling, let them know how they can support you and take pressure off  

Don’t forget your self-care, this isn’t just bubble baths and facemasks, it’s exercise, eating well, meditation etc.  

The most important thing is don’t try and go it alone - If you’re not feeling yourself or the demands in your life are feeling overwhelming, it’s important to seek out professional help. You can start this process with a visit to your GP, they can refer you to a mental health professional.  
Lombardo, B., & Eyre, C. (2011). Compassion fatigue: A nurse’s primer. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 16(1), 3. 

Sabo, B. M. (2006). Compassion fatigue and nursing work: can we accurately capture the consequences of caring work?. International journal