Is Covid giving you Compassion Fatigue?

Compassion Fatigue

If managing holiday cancellations has you drained and it’s bordering on irritation / anger while you listen to each individual’s disappointment at not being able to achieve that much-needed holiday – you may be suffering from Compassion Fatigue.

Compassion Fatigue is common in the fields of health / medical care and is the result of feeling overwhelmed by other’s trauma. It is a type of secondary traumatic stress, as a result of helping or wanting to help those who are in need. Often referred to as “the cost of caring” for others who are in physical or emotional pain, it can result in physical and emotional exhaustion and a significant decrease in the ability to empathise.

Those of you in the service, tourism, and hospitality industries may be experiencing this right now as our neighbours in lockdown continue to cancel much-needed holiday plans. The requirement to listen to each individual’s ‘journey’ so far and the struggles of enduring lockdown can easily create Compassion Fatigue symptoms.

For many of us it’s not nice to admit that our ’empathy is running out’ as it may sound selfish and uncaring – but the reality is your capacity is severely diminished.

Listening to our team-members challenges and concerns also can contribute to Compassion Fatigue and for those in leadership roles, your ability to listen and remain impartial may be severely compromised.

It’s time to self-assess – “What could I have done better for my team today?”

If you also have increased life stressors at home (financial and/or relational) as well as in the workplace, prevention strategies will assist greatly in getting back to normal.

How do we get back to normal?

1. Practice self-care  – sleep, good diet and exercise help recalibrate your stress levels

2. Set emotional boundaries – maintain a connection but guard your own needs; someone else’s journey is their path – not yours

3. Enjoy microflow moments – pausing and savouring those happy moments which feed your soul

4. Engage in external hobbies – activities that take your mind to new places of curiosity and enjoyment are great for cortisol (stress hormone) levels

5. Cultivate healthy, supportive friendships – nurture or create a support network to help yourself and others stay connected and supported

6. Write it down – writing about our thoughts, feelings and emotions help us  manage  them and work through them

7. Create workplace strategies – step away from your workstation, take breaks, have a ‘venting’ space where it’s ok to download your irritations or challenges, support each other, debrief at the end of each day

Make sure you debrief at the end of each day with someone who understands the true value they are providing as your sounding board – or do it as a team!

Don’t take your stress home with you – sing it out the window of your car, or lock it behind a door when you leave at the end of the day. Create managing strategies that work for you and reach out immediately next time you feel overwhelmed.