Compassion Fatigue: Learn To Focus On Self Besides Others

“Caregivers can’t just go through the whole process of caregiving every day trying to do the best they can. They actually have to be well.”

Charles Figley, a psychologist and first responder in the Vietnam war noticed something that was changing him. His whole life started to plummet. He was taking on the pain and suffering of the wounded and making them his own. He was experiencing secondary traumatic stress syndrome. He studies this and coined the term ‘Compassion Fatigue’ in 1955.

Humans are an amalgamation of body, mind, and spirit. All the three have to be well to deliver the best as a human whole. The caregivers must be self-compassionate and learn to do something for themselves. The rhythm of a healthy caregiver is to fill up and empty out every day but if a caregiver depletes, the symptoms start showing. Symptoms can include wanting to isolate, emotional outbursts, physical ailments, or sadness which can lead to self-medication.

Compassion fatigue usually begins in early childhood where one learns to take care of others first. Taking care of oneself brings feelings of shame, self-centeredness, and selfishness. Building personal boundaries where individuals decide what they let in and don’t allow in is crucial to safeguard one’s well-being.

“If we don’t fill ourselves up, we have nothing left to give others.”

A caregiver must start the journey from being other-directed to self-directed. It is the most difficult journey but worth every minute of the work. Start by creating a self-care plan, be resilient, embrace spirituality, and learn to let go of the trauma. Patricia suggests regular exercise, healthy eating habits, journaling and good sleep to maintain overall well-being. With adequate support, resources, and self-care, caregivers will  understand the emotions they experience.

If you can identify with this story, please share it with others who care for someone and help them share too. The feeling of understanding, not being alone and access to support is what keeps caregivers going.  

Sharing your story helps understand yourself — feelings, passions, hopes. It lightens the load and offers relief from loneliness, anxiety, anger or guilt. Our experiences and hopes can benefit others – to know that the challenges are the same, learn new ways to cope and care… they aren’t alone but part of a team. 

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Source: TEDx Talks

This You Tube video has been curated by Caregiver Saathi. All Rights are Reserved with the original publisher and creators.

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