What happens to our essential workers, caregivers, who are continuously hearing, seeing or witnessing tragedies, pain and suffering while also providing care, support and protection?
Many of us are experiencing compassion fatigue for various reasons especially during this pandemic. In wanting to provide a blog on how to cope with these feelings, especially during these times, I reached out to Rita DiBiase (Oncology and Palliative Nurse Practitioner, who specializes in providing education and resources related to loss & grief and compassion fatigue & resiliency) to share with us on how we may shift from feeling fatigue to moments of resilience.
May this blog be what you need to hear or be reminded to have compassion for yourself.
Compassion Fatigue (CF) affects most helping professionals over the course of their careers. CF is a state of tension and preoccupation with the individual or cumulative trauma of patients. One can re-experience the secondary trauma and want to avoid or numb reminders of the events. This can lead to hypervigilance and profound emotional and physical exhaustion. (Figley, 1995; 2002). CF can also occur in anyone in a helping or personal caregiver role.
CF symptoms resemble post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There is a gradual erosion of connection, empathy, hope and compassion, with reduced capacity for ‘bearing witness to the suffering of clients.’ This leads to poor self care & extreme self sacrifice. It has been called the ‘cost of caring.’ Those affected are the most committed and passionate about their role or ‘calling.’
Compassion Satisfaction is the pleasure or reward derived from doing work well, being positive and supporting colleagues. There is a feeling of contributing to work and society. Individuals can reflect on the reason they chose their profession or role and are able to develop coping strategies and resilience. Interestingly, those with high compassion satisfaction are at less risk for CF.
Fortunately, there are resources and interventions available. Dr. Anna Baranowsky and Dr. Eric Gentry developed a robust program to address CF. The program focuses on the skills required to develop self-care and resilience. (Baranowsky & Gentry, Traumatology Institute (Canada), 2010).
Another practical guide is the Compassion Fatigue Workbook, which includes exercises and other valuable resources. (Mathieu, 2012).
The practice of mindfulness is also linked to resiliency and coping. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s work on mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is well supported in the literature.
During this global pandemic, repeated exposure to the trauma of others is even more prevalent. It can be very disheartening to hear the daily news. Now more than ever, as a Compassion Fatigue Educator and Specialist, my goal is to help those in professional or personal caregiver roles learn about strategies for self-care and resilience to prevent or mitigate compassion fatigue.
Please join us on Tuesday, January 19 from 7-8pm for a Free Virtual Education session, Compassion Fatigue & Resilience by Rita DiBiase (Oncology and Palliative Nurse Practitioner, who specializes in providing education and resources related to loss & grief and compassion fatigue & resiliency) to share with us on how we may shift from feeling fatigue to moments of resilience.
Please join us in continuing the conversation of exploring practices & strategies to address compassion fatigue on Tuesday, May 18 from 7:00-8:30pm with Rita DiBiase.