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By Kelly DaCunha, MSW, LCSW-C, CCTP-II

Director of violence intervention, LifeBridge Health

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During these times, it is normal and expected for caregivers and those in helping professions to experience compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue is emotional exhaustion that builds up. It is the cumulative effects of continuously and constantly caring for others who are suffering in some manner. Compassion fatigue can present in many forms. Compassion fatigue might look like:

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  • Apathy
  • Decreased ability to feel the empathy for others that you once felt
  • Loss of enjoyment in your work
  • Increased cynicism
  • Stress-related illnesses
  • Depression
  • Increased anxiety
  • Being hypersensitive
  • Problems within personal relationships
  • Lack of desire to go to work

Some tips to prevent compassion fatigue and help you cope during these stressful times:

At work

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    • Use breaks effectively
    • Be sure to reserve time in your schedule for meals – and actually eat them!
    • Vary your activities throughout your work shift
    • Find at least one person who can serve as a source of support for you at work
    • Use peer support networks to communicate your needs to your supervisor and work together on a support plan

At home

  • Openly communicate your needs to your family members
  • Share some information about compassion fatigue and your need for coping strategies with your family members – they can’t help if they don’t know!
  •  Schedule activities that bring you peace or joy – exercise, reading, yoga, journaling, going for a walk, playing with your kids, talking with a friend, art
  •  Balance activities that energize you and those that deplete your energy
  • Find at least one person who can serve as a source of support for you
  • Take time each day for a mindfulness activity
  • 4-count breathing – inhale for a count of 4, hold for 4, exhale for 4, hold for 4, repeat 10 times while paying attention to your breath in the moment