We all know about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) suffered by folks that’s triggered by a terrifying event— either experiencing it or witnessing it. Caregivers suffer burnout similar to PTSD. But did you know that volunteers can experience similar feelings. It’s called Compassion Fatigue. We’ve all felt it – that burned-out feeling, that makes us feel sadness. This is often a result of people caring too much. Really dedicated volunteers can sometimes use so much of their own inner energy to go above and beyond, to make everything right, that it ends up affecting them. Empathy is a double edge sword – it’s a tool to help you care for others, but it’s also what can lead to Compassion Fatigue.

In the early stages of burnout, you may have less energy and may need to make more of an effort to deal with everyday pressures. You may be more negative, quick to anger, have a reduced sense of accomplishment, feel tired more often, become more withdrawn and experience increased interpersonal conflicts. You may even become preoccupied with someone’s story, suffering and helplessness.

Questions to Ask Yourself If You Think You May Be at Risk of Developing Compassion Fatigue:

  1. Is it easier for you to give than to receive?
  2. Do you have the tendency to take on another person’s suffering? Or try to fix it?
  3. Do you go above and beyond what is expected of you?
  4. Is it challenging to set limits?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, it’s time for you to practice some self-love. Reconnect to your favorite hobby, talk a walk, enjoy lunch with a friend or even read a book. To be successful in developing a self-care plan, be sure to carve out the time on your calendar and set a start date.

Why is Self-Care Important?

Self-care is not about selfishness or being self-absorbed. Self-care actually increases your capacity to care for others. Self-care is not just about making healthy lifestyle choices – self-care is about being true to oneself, being attuned to what is in your best interests and taking a proactive stance toward your needs and goals.

Charlene Richard

If you are interested in learning more Charlene Richard has free information and self-training videos at CaringSafely.org.

For a list of national and international resource links, please visit the Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project by clicking here.

Be sure to take care of yourself, Neighbors need Neighbors Helping Neighbors!