Welcome back empowered readers,
For this week’s blog I wanted to take the opportunity to tackle the understandings between the terms Burnout and Compassion Fatigue. They are terms that are frequently used and I feel it is important to have an understanding between the definitions, symptoms and signs, and recommendations of prevention and recovery as it applies to YOUR life.
To begin, we must talk about stress. Yes, we have all experienced stress at least once in our lives and should really be termed as the “Disease of the 21st Century”. But to understand burnout and compassion fatigue, one must understand stress.
Stress is a common feeling that every person experiences at times, resulting from a demand on the brain and body. It can be beneficial, but an over-abundance can also be harmful to your overall health and mental well-being. In adjusting to different circumstances, stress will help or hinder us depending on how we react to it.
That is right, stress can either be good or bad depending on how YOU respond to it. Stress is simply a behavioral adjustment to change and is necessary in our lives. But issues can arise in our lives when excessive or prolonged stress occurs. This can lead to burnout…
Burnout is associated with the stress and hassles involving work and/or home life. It is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands and is caused by one’s external factors. Burnout is cumulative and relatively predictable and occurs when a person is not in control of how their job (& or home life) is being carried out.
I feel it is important to include one’s home life because parents/caregivers are just as susceptible to burnout as are professionals in the workforce.
Some symptoms of Burnout include:
Ways to prevent Burnout:
Another really important aspect to include when preventing or combating burnout is having a sense of purpose in one’s life. Whether you are still figuring out your purpose or simply needing a reminder:
Simply put, compassion fatigue results when one feels that showing compassion to another is a burden. It does not mean that you are a “bad” person, are “cold”, or “heartless”. But to fully understand compassion fatigue one must understand empathy within the human experience.
The use of empathy allows us the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Empathy is a tool that people, caregivers and professionals use most often to establish a healing relationship. Over time, working in emotionally charged situations continuously, this empathy can become overtaxed and exhausted even when the individual is diligently maintaining self-care skills.
Therefore, compassion fatigue occurs when an individual becomes secondarily traumatized during exposure to traumatic incidents directly experienced and relayed by another. Basically, listening and experiencing another person’s trauma can directly lead to compassion fatigue because we run out of compassion to give to another. Burnout is associated with compassion fatigue and post- traumatic like symptoms can present.
Those at risk of Compassion Fatigue include:
Symptoms of Compassion Fatigue include:
Are You Suffering from Burnout, Compassion Fatigue, &/or Stress?
The good news is that burnout, compassion fatigue, stress and exhaustion are very responsive to treatment. When a person makes the crucial first step of reaching out to ask for help, you are already well on your way to recovery.
Programs and treatments offered by Empowered Wellness & Solutions that help include:
Self-Care: Intervention for Stress and Exhaustion