Compassion Fatigue characteristically manifests itself through chronic stress resulting from our work in the care-giving professions or as caregivers in our personal lives. The terms burnout, vicarious trauma, and compassion fatigue are often used within the same context, and although the terms are complementary, they are essentially different from one another.
Compassion Fatigue refers to the profound emotional and physical wearing away of energy and strength that takes place when this very energy and strength is not being replenished and restored through adequate and well-deserved emotional self-care. People who are concerned about the welfare of others and have a profound identification with suffering or trauma are those who are most susceptible to burnout and compassion fatigue.
From an early age on, we are often taught to care for the needs of others before caring for our own and self-care practices are often missing from our lives. When we nurture and care, we extend nurturing and caring for family and loved ones and caring for the “Self” does not receive the same level of attention (See my blog: Self-care and Wellness Connection Part I http://www.womynspathofhealing.com/single-post/2017/10/13/Self-Nurturing-and-Wellness-Connection).
In addition, what comes into play more often than not are the feelings of guilt we experience when compassion fatigue makes itself present. If you find yourself in this place, gift yourself with this thought: the presence of compassion fatigue in your life simply serves to highlight the fact that you are a very caring individual who is deeply concerned about the welfare of others!
Take care of yourself and remember, you cannot give what you don’t have! If you are feeling emotionally exhausted and your own needs are being neglected, you cannot be there emotionally for others.