How To Overcome Compassion Fatigue: 7 Skills You Can Learn NOW
Compassion fatigue occurs when someone witnesses the trauma and suffering of others.
Emotional pain is often caused by either experiencing or witnessing the traumatic and stressful events of others. These events have the capacity to shape your nervous system, thoughts, feelings and behaviors. However, there is hope; compassion fatigue and burnout can be easily treated.
7 Skills for Overcoming Compassion Fatigue
Research suggests there are 7 skills we can learn to implement in our daily routine that help us overcome compassion fatigue and build resilience for future exposure to trauma. These skills can be taught using the acronym BALANCE: Beliefs, Awareness, Limits, Attunement, Nurture, Calm and Emotions.
BALANCE is a reflection of my own personal journey with compassion fatigue and burnout. As a helping professional myself, I brought my own trauma to my work and was impacted by the traumatic stories of the people I helped. Additionally, I held a position that had a lot of responsibility and I was ill-equipped to manage the stress.
Overtime, I began to recognize symptoms in myself that mimicked those of PTSD. I struggled with moodiness, I felt anxious, I would surprise myself with explosive emotional reactions, I was irritable and constantly on edge, I felt like I was ready for a fight at any given time and at times, wished I could just not show up for my life.
My symptoms mimicked those of PTSD, Anxiety and Depression. This began my study into the the impact of trauma and chronic stress. Research suggests that a majority of the population has experienced at least one significant trauma in their life, that chronic stress has the same impact as trauma and that helping others who have experienced trauma is traumatic.
The BALANCE acronym came from an activity I do for self-care, horse riding. It came to me during a lesson in which my instructor was talking about balance. She said that to ride balanced you need your core muscles to be strong to support joints that can be supple and absorb the movement rather than rigid and conflict with the movement. Then she said, “Hmmm, kind of a metaphor for life.”
Beliefs – Your thoughts direct your life. It is possible to have subconscious, negative thoughts that are controlling the way you feel and behave. Taking back your life involves identifying those thoughts that are unhelpful and replacing them with thoughts that are positive and empowering.
Awareness – Knowledge is power. Your symptoms can be eased simply by understanding what stress and trauma is, how it impacts you and how to implement techniques for recovery and resilience.
Limits – Safety is fundamental for beginning the healing process. Establishing healthy boundaries both personally and professionally requires assertiveness. A balance of respect for others and yourself allows you to create psychological safety and build an environment in which you can flourish with all your uniqueness and strengths.
Attunement – The very best relationships are those in which during moments of emotional distress either partner is willing to connect with the other and see into their inner emotional experience. Not all relationships are equal. Attunement allows you to create connections that nurture health and healing.
Nurture – Fundamental to resilience are the three basic skills of nutrition, sleep and movement. Nurturing your body is key to taking charge of developing your resilience.
Calm – The nervous system can be damaged by stress and trauma. Recognizing and controlling your physiological responses to stress is the key to minimizing its negative effects and increasing your ability to feel confident, connected and content.
Emotions – Emotions can be confusing and allusive. Learning to identify, explore, express and accept your emotions gives you power to regulate what you feel and how intensely you feel it.
To learn more about how you can access individual or group sessions sessions with me, check out my website, https://sharimorindegel.com