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Building Resilience Against Compassion Fatigue

By: Jennifer Regular

Do you feel easily overwhelmed or over-stimulated when there is a lot going on around you?

Are you easily affected by the moods and emotions of others and seem to pick up their energy?

Has your enthusiasm you once had for life and work waned into exhaustion and disillusionment?

If you can relate to these feelings, you may be experiencing "compassion fatigue."

Those most vulnerable to compassion fatigue are front-line workers and those who work intimately or "hands on" with others. When you help people, you have direct contact with their lives.

Henry Neils, Founder of Assessment.com describes compassion fatigue as, "The emotional residue of exposure to working with the suffering. Professionals who work with this population contend not only with normal stress of work, but the emotional and personal feelings of those they work with.

Compassion fatigue is NOT burnout. Burnout is associated with stress hassles involved in your work."

He goes on to say that, "Compassion fatigue is a state of tension and preoccupation with the individual or cumulative trauma of clients. You are absorbing the trauma through the eyes and ears of your clients and can be thought of as secondary post traumatic stress."

Awareness of your susceptibility to compassion fatigue is the first step in recognizing how it may be affecting your emotional and physical well-being. Being "aware" means being attuned to your own needs, limits, emotions, and inner and other resources to draw on as ways to cope.

Signs of compassion fatigue may include:

•Exhaustion •Negativity •Anger/resentment •Adrenalin driven •Apathy •Headaches and stomach issues •Feeling helpless •Anxiety •Sleep issues •Quick fix eating or not eating at all •Irritable •Impatient •Impaired immune system

This weakened spirit can result in decreased enthusiasm and motivation for the work that once inspired you and further results in deteriorating job performance. You may find yourself using more sick time, with a decrease in overall health.

When you become over involved in your work and serving others, you start to leak energy and end up feeling drained. You start experiencing an internal conflict between meeting your needs versus meeting the needs of others.

An "energy leak" is a habit or behaviour pattern that bleeds your vitality and gives nothing back. A necessary responsibility will ultimately lead you toward your goal, whereas an energy leak will not.

Some questions to consider:

Where are you being too accommodating?

Where do you sense a conflict? Is there "drama" being created?

Are you "too busy" to take better care of yourself? Would you not stop for gas because you’re too busy driving? Of course not! You know you need to fill up your tank for the long haul.

Being busy lends to self-sabotaging behaviour where you overextend yourself in an ego-driven way fueled by adrenalin to "get things done" in this false sense of urgency. A car without gas will stop. It's not broken it just needs to get replenished. This goes for you, too.

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Jennifer Regular (Loving Wolf Star) is a respected Master Integrated Energy Therapist, Soul Mentor, Reiki Drum Healer, Shamanic Practitioner, and an inspiring seminar leader. Learn more ways to clear and protect your energy to maintain peace and joy as a way of living and being. Get your free guide to "To Clear and Protect Your Energy" and eliminate energy drains at www.enlightenedwellness.ca

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