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Pressure Points of Compassion

Do you feel emotionally numb or drained at the end of the day? Do you enjoy your work but feel like you have nothing left to give? If so, you might be suffering from compassion fatigue – and if that's the case, you're not alone.

Compassion fatigue and burnout are similar but not interchangeable. Compassion fatigue – also known as "vicarious trauma," "secondary traumatic stress" or "secondary victimization" – is the result of a unique relationship with another, through which empathy allows another to "take on the burden" of another person. It has been quoted widely as describing it as "basically... a low-level, chronic clouding of caring and concern for others in your life – whether you work in or outside the home. Over time, your ability to feel and care for others becomes eroded through overuse of your skills of compassion."

With no disrespect, when we have to deal with and see another struggle to balance financial needs or with the needs in their personal life three to five times per week, such moral-stress is a primary contributor to compassion fatigue, according to some Top Professional Doctors today.

Here Are Some Symptoms of Compassion Fatigue

Feelings of apathy and isolation are at the top of the list of symptoms of compassion fatigue. But they are far from the only ones. This insidious disorder can cause problems both psychological and physically. Common symptoms of compassion fatigue can include:

  • Bottled-up emotions

  • Sadness and apathy

  • Inability to get pleasure from activities that previously were enjoyable

  • Isolation

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Feeling mentally and physically tired

  • Chronic physical ailments

  • Voicing excessive complaints about your job, your manager(s) and/or co-workers

  • Lack of self-care, including poor hygiene and a drop-off in your appearance

Compassion fatigue also can have systemic effects on your workplace.

Caring for yourself is critical to preventing and recovering from compassion fatigue. It can be important to connect with colleagues who experience the same types of traumas and moral stresses as you do. "Learn to recognize the signs of compassion fatigue in your work environment.

Coach SharonG

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