You probably got into the healthcare industry because you are compassionate and like helping people, and those are both noble traits. But while it’s commendable to take care of others, doing so takes its toll on you. If you find yourself feeling anxious, hopeless, or irritable, or you notice a decrease in empathy or productivity, these may be signs of compassion fatigue. It’s a very normal response to the stresses of healthcare, and there are ways to cope with it.
You can’t pour from an empty cup, so taking time out to care for yourself is one of the best ways you can cope with compassion fatigue. It might seem selfish at first glance, but practicing self-care is essential to your overall well-being. So make sure you are eating healthy, exercising, and getting plenty of sleep. Making sure you are well means you can make certain other people are taken care of too.
Balance work and life
Healthcare is a demanding job, but as much as you may love it, don’t let it consume your life. Outside of working hours, make sure you are taking some time to engage in hobbies and other enjoyable activities. Take the time to “unplug” from the healthcare industry when you’re not at work to enjoy other aspects of your life, like spending time with family and friends. Having and maintaining a healthy work-life balance means creating healthy boundaries between you and compassion fatigue.
Change your mindset
Another way to ward off compassion fatigue is to change the way you think about your job. Having high expectations, thinking of self-care as “selfish,” and not setting up personal boundaries are all factors that contribute to compassion fatigue. Adopting mantras like “I will see the good while accepting the bad.” or “It’s okay to set compassion boundaries.” is an excellent way to change how you think about healthcare and keep compassion fatigue at bay.
It’s important to remember that taking care of yourself is the first step in taking care of other people. By practicing self-care, balancing work and life, and changing your mindset about what you do, you can help prevent yourself from getting compassion fatigue. But even if you still get it, don’t worry. It’s a normal result of working in healthcare.