Compassion Fatigue: When Caring Becomes Costly

Celebrate Stress Awareness Month this April with Favorite Healthcare Staffing.

We all know that careers in healthcare are some of the most stressful. In fact, according to a CareerBuilder survey, healthcare professionals have the highest levels of stress compared to any other industry. Out of those surveyed, 69% of healthcare workers reported feeling stressed, while 17% reported feeling highly stressed.

What contributes to the high stress in this industry? The nature of the job itself is high stakes. Healthcare professionals hold the life of another in their own hands and it’s not uncommon to experience compassion fatigue. Healthcare professionals experience this type of fatigue because their job requires them to care deeply about their patients. The immense physical and emotional exhaustion of the job can lead to a decrease in the ability to empathize. Day after day, healthcare professionals hear stories of fear, pain and distress and they can often find themselves experiencing similar emotions.

It’s important to understand that these feelings are normal and that while stress in healthcare is a given, too much of it can lead to burnout. Here are some surprisingly simple tips to help you manage your stress and combat compassion fatigue:

1. Practice self-care.

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It’s not uncommon for those in healthcare to prioritize their patients’ health before their own. Practicing self-care is critical for fighting stress and compassion fatigue. Develop healthy habits like regular exercise, good nutrition and adequate sleep.

2. Maintain a solid work-life balance.

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Dedicate time to developing your hobbies outside of work. Burnout can occur if you spend all your time working or thinking about work, so it’s healthy to have some separation between your work and personal life.

3. Journal your way to self-awareness.

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Suppression of emotions can lead to compassion fatigue. Try journaling and putting your thoughts and feelings down in words. You may find that you will better understand your emotions and the patterns of what causes your stress.

4. Adopt positive coping mechanisms.

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Make a list of positive coping strategies to use in times of high stress. For many, this can be exercise, meditation, talking with a loved one or watching a funny movie. Find what works best for you.

5. Talk it out and ask for help.

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You can’t do it all on your own. It may be beneficial to see a therapist who can talk you through your feelings and help you to develop strategies to fight your compassion fatigue.

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