Common Signs Of Compassion Fatigue And Empathy Burnout

5 Signs Of Compassion Fatigue and Emotional Burn-Out. What does compassion fatigue look like and what can you do to reduce the risk of this type of emotional exhaustion, anxiety and stress with Empath and Stress Management Expert; Eileen Burns.

What is Compassion?

Compassion is an awareness and sensitivity to other people’s suffering. Which invokes concern and sympathy, it involves altruism and a wanting to take action to reduce the person’s pain. Now it is easy to get confused with compassion and empathy. Examples of compassion is offering to help out a friend, neighbour with something they find difficult. Being able to listen to someones recent challenges with patience and care.

What is Empathy?

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone’s position and feel what someone else is feeling. Someone who is an empath will often actually feels the pain of others for example the physical, mental, emotional pain of others or the energy of a place. Examples of empathy being able to sense other people’s emotions and feelings, feel or see behind a mask. Absorbing other people’s energies, dramas, excitement.

What is Compassion Fatigue and Empathy Fatigue?

Compassion Fatigue

Compassion Fatigue is a form of burn-out a reduction in compassion and empathy that leads to a variety of symptoms that can make you feel frustrated, exhausted, detached, in a state of apathy.

It is caused by both secondary traumatic stress (common in empathy fatigue) which I talk about below and burnout. Often seen in prolonged long periods of over empathy and caregiving, periods of extreme trauma, stress or chronic stress.

Empathy Fatigue

Empathy fatigue is extremely common in empaths as empathy can be extremely overwhelming and very stimulating on the nervous system. It can involve a lot of over-identification of other people’s pain especially when the empath lacks healthy boundaries.

This happens when one’s own wounds are re-triggered by the pain or challenges of others, but feel unable, too detached or too overwhelmed to give the support.

Empathy Fatigue was coined by Professor Mark Stebnicki who documented the observations of “secondary traumatic stress” in what he classed as “high-touch therapists” for example counsellors, psychotherapists etc who in their work needed to have a strong emotional connection to their patients, therapists. They were presenting the same symptoms of their patients or clients anxiety and stress.

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Are You At Risk Of Compassion Fatigue Or Empathy Burnout?

Empaths, healers, therapists, caregivers, coaches and counsellors are at a high-risk of compassion fatigue and empathy fatigue. Especially those that suffer or become distracted by other people’s pain.

5 Common Signs Of Compassion Fatigue and Empathy Fatigue

Below are common signs in empathy fatigue and compassion fatigue where there is an overlap in triggers and causes.

Apathy

Compassion Fatigue And Empathic Burnout

Feelings of Apathy is a very common sign of compassion fatigue, feel as if you don’t care about anything anymore. Lack of concern, interest enthusiasm and motivation.

Anger and Irritability

Feeling anxious, angry and irritable are common compassion fatigue symptoms. It comes from being overwhelmed and having less tolerance.

Burnout And Exhaustion

A general feeling of burnout and overwhelming exhaustion that leaves you feeling unable to have the mental, emotional or physical resources to deal with or support someone else who is suffering.

Detached

Feeling very detached from your own emotions and emotions, suffering of others is a common example of compassion fatigue in healthcare and hospitals. This is very common in medical professionals, nurses, doctors, those who deal with traumatic experiences, all sorts of mental, emotional pain and suffering on a daily basis.

Emotional and Traumatic Recollections

Emotional and Traumatic Recollections where the client, patient or situation triggers certain memories associated with another client, patient or their own personal trauma. Especially those that are related to particularly traumatic, demanding or challenging situations.

Healing And Manging Compassion Fatigue and Empathy Fatigue

Healthy Boundaries

Healthy boundaries is so important to reduce both compassion fatigue and empathy fatigue especially in empaths who tend to struggle with boundaries and non-identification. As an unruly empath for most of my life, this has been something I have had to work on deeply.

Many empaths have to deeply understand the importance of boundaries, challenge their belief systems and habits around feeling responsible for other people’s pain and suffering.  Unfortunately empaths tend to be more prone to attract those who want to stay in victimhood, narcissistic traits and behaviour patterns.

Healthy Lifestyle

A healthy lifestyle is an important aspects of preventing any sorts of mental, emotional fatigue and burnout. What we eat, what we consume mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually can fuel us, deplete or intoxicate us. That is why it is important to do what you can to consume a high vibrational life.

Sadly many medical professionals are some of the most unhealthiest eaters, have alcohol or other addictions. Suffer insomnia especially understandably those on unhealthy shift patterns. All of these things will lead to depletion and physical burnout which in turn reflects the amount of emotional and mental resources you have to support others.

Good Self Awareness

Good self awareness is key in helping us become aware of our needs, our own triggers, light and shadow traits. Our unconscious habits and beliefs that are keeping us stick. Many in the healing and therapy professionals are wounded healers, choosing careers in these areas because of their own past or present wounding. This can provide greater compassion for others but can also lead to a variety of challenges if the inner child trauma or inner child wounding is not healed. Especially when there is saviour, healer or rescuer traits which can create all forms of co-dependency issues in the patients and clients.

Self Care and Self Compassion

Self Care and Self Compassion is a vital component to the prevention and reduction of compassion fatigue and empath burnout. This is so important in caregivers and empaths who are naturally altruistic and motivated in life by service to others. And who struggle to identify their own needs, wants often due to a childhood knee deep in supporting, helping, rescuing others.

Trauma Support

Support with your own personal trauma is so important, we all carry trauma from our childhood and adulthood that shapes our beliefs, behaviours and reactions on a daily basis. Trauma comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes, it impacts us all in different ways in our life, relationships, health and wellbeing. As someone who has tried out, studied and practices wide range  of therapeutic approaches to help clients with trauma for over 20 years. I would always support a holistic approach, a multi-faceted approach for the best results. I personally use a combination of therapeutic archetypal and inner child coaching, healing and therapy with my own clients.

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