DO YOU HAVE COMPASSION FATIGUE?

You may have had someone ask you, “What are you noticing?”  What ARE you noticing?   Many of you have reported loneliness, irritability, despair, fatigue, sadness, frustration, confusion, anger, criticism from others, a feeling of not doing enough and fear.  Others may admit they do not mind staying home more, not getting dressed to go out, less scheduled activities, more family time, having extra time to work on projects, catching up on reading and a lot of cooking!  

The topic of balance is discussed frequently in managing our lives and finding happiness.  How do you find balance?  Even good things can be exaggerated or diminished and get out of balance.  Our current state of unbalance in the world is a reality that we struggle with and how to find a way forward.   

I urge you to consider this label of ‘compassion fatigue’ that you may be experiencing in this unbalanced time.   An old friend of mine, Todd Weedman, who is a pastor in St. Louis shared this article from WEBMD.com titled Compassion Fatigue:  Todd says,

“Research has shown this to be a high risk for people working in care industries.  After too much exposure to other people’s trauma and too little care for self, people tend to become detached, depressed, lacking in empathy.  This is not just a concern for clergy and healthcare workers.  In the midst of the ongoing crises of the past year, social media has exposed everyday people to the constant trauma of others.  The isolation of social distancing and reality of lockdowns has resulted in a lack of self-care.  

We’re looking at a global pandemic of compassion fatigue, fueled by the 24-hour news cycle and social media.”  

According to Dr. Dan Brennan compassion fatigue is most common among professionals who work in a healing or helping capacity.  Compassion fatigue is often mistaken for burnout, which is a cumulative sense of fatigue or dissatisfaction.  While burnout is one part of this form of fatigue, the term compassion fatigue encompasses a more specific experience, which may be brought about by a stressful workplace or environment, lack of resources, or excessive hours.   Christians are called to show compassion, right?  When these experiences in our lives and careers require compassion from us, and our thoughts, moods, and actions begin to overwhelm us, it may be compassion fatigue.  It is referred to as a secondary stress reaction and is a sign of being out of balance.

The article shares that signs of compassion fatigue are:

  1. Struggle to do your work or complete daily activities
  2. Mood swings
  3. Detachment
  4. Self-medicating behaviors
  5. Trouble being productive
  6. Anxious or depressive feelings
  7. Insomnia
  8. Physical symptoms

If you can relate to this term of compassion fatigue, it will be particularly important to find balance by self-care, prayer, the practice of the spiritual disciplines, and reaching out to a friend or mentor.  You might want to consider joining a Crosspoint event such as Deeper Journey, Enneagram training, Soul Care Institute, or a retreat.  Find someone to talk to that you can trust and be honest with about your struggles.  Talk with someone from Crosspoint.  If you are completely overwhelmed with compassion fatigue, please get professional help with someone specializing in trauma.  Please reach out and share that you are struggling.   You can not do it alone.  Hold on to the promise that we will never really be alone.

“It is the Lord who goes before you.  He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed.”  Deuteronomy 31:8.  

YOU CAN DO THIS!