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Self-care and Compassion Fatigue

Caring for people who are in emotional pain can be emotionally, mentally and physically depleting. If you notice you are feeling burnt out, depressed or unable to “spring back” from a difficult visit, you may be experiencing compassion fatigue.

Compassion fatigue is a real issue for people who work in “helping” professions. The empathy that makes you so good at your job also leaves you vulnerable to being affected by another person’s pain. So what can you do to help yourself? These self-care tips from can help prevent burnout:

  • Stay healthy. Get enough sleep, eat right, exercise. A healthy body can withstand stress a lot better than a depleted one.
  • Talk to someone. It can be your spouse, a sympathetic friend, a therapist, or any person you trust and is willing to listen. It might also help to talk to other Nanny Angels about their experiences. Sharing your feelings allows you share the load – and leaves a little less for you to carry.
  • Make time for you. Work some downtime into each day doing mindful meditation, reading a book, having a massage or seeing a friend – anything that replenishes you.
  • Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to tell people you need support.
  • Say no. You don’t have to say yes to everything. People will understand.
  • Don’t watch stressful things on TV. Avoid watching sad, violent or stressful TV shows or movies – they can add to your trauma without you realizing it.
  • Be Aware Of Your Own Emotional Responses. Confronting others’ difficult experiences may trigger memories and feelings that recall your own experiences. Be aware of what these might be.
  • Manage Stress. Learn about and be aware of your stress level and take precautions against exceeding your own limits. Use relaxation techniques (e.g., deep breathing, meditation); exercise is also very helpful. Recognize your personal limitations; set limits with patients/students, families and colleagues.