Compassion fatigue is something that is mostly associated with stress-inducing jobs such as EMTs and first responders. Yet, contrary to popular belief, caregivers can also experience the effects of empathy overload.
In fact, compassion fatigue can easily correlate with the task of taking care of someone: Especially if that someone is undergoing traumatic or stress-inducing health scenarios. Thus, it is not a stretch to say that caregivers can easily become overwhelmed by the psychological impact of helping others.
If you feel yourself suffering from empathy overload, here are three coping mechanisms for caregivers.
1. Check in with yourself.
The best way to manage your compassion fatigue is to check in with yourself. Although it may feel differently, compassion fatigue is not a constant state of being. As with any mental health condition, it fluctuates. There will be days when your empathy overload is all consuming and there will be days that are more manageable.
Keep a journal that you can track your mental health in. Use a simple indication as a symbol for your state of being. You can rate your well-being on a scale of 1-10, based on the colors at a traffic light, or whatever emoji feels best. Your overall goal is to have a trackable system that you can look back on and better understand what triggers your compassion fatigue.
2. Connect with your community.
If you find yourself suffering from compassion fatigue, it can feel immensely isolating. The stress and anxiety can play tricks on your brain, convincing you that you are alone. If you take anything from this article, please take into account that you are never alone. There is a community of friends and family that are always here to listen. Even more so, there are entire networks of caregivers who offer support group systems.
Thus, when your compassion fatigue makes you feel isolated, it is time to reach out and connect. Go on a walk with a friend, call a family member, or join a zoom caregiver support group.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Sometimes, the best remedy for compassion fatigue is to ask for help. A licensed therapist or counselor can provide a holistic path beyond empathy overload. They will work with you, guide you through your compassion fatigue, and get you the help that you need.