How to fight compassion fatigue in the time of Covid-19
Compassion fatigue happens when your heart can’t take any more pain because of what you are seeing or experiencing from the world around you. It affects more people than you realize. It is when the broken state of the world and the sheer number of things requiring your compassion become too much, and you eventually reach a state of numbness, even apathy.
Caring too much?
How much can you handle? When it gets too much and you feel as if your heart cannot take it, then you might have compassion fatigue.
It would be helpful here to point out we are called to be compassionate towards others, but if our tank is empty, it’s pretty hard.
Hearing negative news repeated over and over again – be it in the press, from our healthcare system, our children and schools – and the feelings of helplessness and heartache, leave us not knowing what to do or where to turn.
We are not God, who has infinite compassion. We are human, and with that comes so many limitations.
Years ago, we had several traumatic experiences ranging from an armed robbery, my dad battling cancer, my dog dying, and many of our friends going through incredibly tough times. While I was trying to overcome my own battles, we were leading a missions organization and helping people globally. Eventually, compassion fatigue set in, but I was fortunate to have been walking with a wise counselor who helped me process this appropriately.
We don’t have to stay in that place of compassion fatigue.
Let’s get into it, friends. Our road of navigating the Covid-19 pandemic is far from over. And we surely need to strengthen ourselves if we are to emerge out of it with our communities and families unscathed.
We are mandated to love, to live compassionately and to fight for justice. However, we cannot do that well if our tanks are empty. Compassion fatigue can take a physical, emotional, mental, spiritual toll on people who experience it.
A few symptoms of compassion fatigue
- Chronic physical and emotional exhaustion
- Your love tank feels empty
- Loss of joy
- Irritability and anger
- Feelings of self-contempt
- Difficulty sleeping or disrupted sleep
- Poor job satisfaction
But there is good news. We can prevent compassion fatigue. Here are a few ways to do just that.
How can we prevent compassion fatigue?
Practice self-awareness and monitor what’s going on inside of you; take notice your life rhythms. How are you sleeping? Are you exercising?
Whenever I feel overwhelmed, it is helpful to remember that I am not responsible for everyone, but rather to others. It helps me let go of things I am not meant to hold on to.
2 Self-care is essential
Be aware of what feeds your soul. If you feel more stressed because of the news, social media reports and conversations going on around you, consider setting some boundaries in place. Take time out to rest, journal, pray and speak to someone you trust.
3. Listen more
Practice active listening, and this doesn’t mean that I solve every problem, but instead, I can let it go and sit with the person in their pain. I listen more than I speak and wait for the invitation to give advice.
4. Fearing less and loving more
Fear can rob us of emotional and physical health. With compassion fatigue, fear will feed off your stress, anxiety and tension, but you don’t have to let it do that. Love looks like forgiveness, letting go, boundaries, prayer and empathy, and so much more.
Now that you have a handle on it, I’d like to share a few ways to treat compassion fatigue (and this is by no means complete).
Treating Compassion Fatigue is possible
There are many ways to treat it, but I would like to highlight a few. Some of these I’ve tried, and they really make a difference. Put on your lens of Covid-19 and where you are at right now.
- Talking about your feelings with a trusted person and/or a mental health professional. Encourage your children to share how they feel as well. Create a safe space at home.
- Learn more about compassion fatigue and how it affects people.
- Develop a healthy diet and along with that make a commitment to regular exercise. Find an accountability buddy -it helps!
- Sleep is crucial to resilience and healing. Ensure you get a restful night’s sleep.
- Cultivate and develop hobbies different from work. It will help you relax and feed those happy hormones.
“Taking care of myself doesn’t mean, ‘me’ first. It means ‘me too’” LR Knost.
Who am I?
I’m passionate about inspiring people to live courageously. As a speaker, mentor and author, I work with families and women around the globe to help pursue their dreams and raise children with love and courage. As a mother of two, I long to see families restored and equipped. I serve locally in our communities and regularly speak on the radio on Courageous Living. Read more about my latest book here.
Images courtesy of Unsplash