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What is Compassion Fatigue?

Compassion fatigue is real, and we are still seeing and experiencing the residue of 2020. General fatigue is normal based on the times, but emotional exhaustion is a different challenge. Emotional exhaustion can stem from trying to care about others and their issues all at once and taking on too much without considering self-care. While all signs point to burnout, this may not be burnout, but instead compassion fatigue.

We have all had stress as a result of over exposure to a traumatized individual. Rescuing and caretaking for others is okay in some instances and can feel generous in nature, but without self-care this can lead you to experiencing compassion fatigue. When you do not feel like you can rescue an individual or care for them enough to change their circumstance, without boundaries, you may begin to feel guilt or distress.

Secondary stress or trauma is driven by the preoccupation with someone else's physical or emotional pain. Compassion Fatigue is common with anyone dealing with someone who has dealt with trauma, think people like first responders, healthcare workers, therapists or care takers. Social justice activists are also in this category.

Compassion fatigue might include feeling disconnected, or the sort of disappointment one might feel when they think they haven’t done enough.

Although they have similar symptoms, there are some differences in how compassion fatigue and burnout develop. Burnout is usually a result of physical or mental exhaustion from stress or overwork. Compassion fatigue is driven by the relationship between the helper and the person receiving help. Burnout is usually related to the work itself.

Practicing Compassion


Mindful moments can help to heal you and inspire you. Mindfulness and compassion go hand in hand because mindfulness gives rise to compassion. It can sometimes feel counterintuitive to do things that make you feel better because it is easy to be overcome by emotions. In a challenging moment if you can change your mind, you can start to change the way you feel.

Mindful practices include meditation, journaling, and resting. Meditation increases compassionate behavior, but also supports you creating space for yourself. Having compassion for yourself is as important for having compassion for others. Self-care is incredibly important especially if you realize you are experiencing compassion fatigue. Meditation, journaling, or rest can help you discover and implement necessary boundaries and learn how to healthily protect your space.


It is okay to ask for help. Receiving support from someone close to you can help alleviate the negative feelings you might be experiencing as a result of compassion fatigue. Confiding in others is perfectly healthy, and can help you realize that you too deserve compassion.

The way you practice compassion can have positive implications on your health. Healthily connecting with others can positively impact mental and physical health, in turn affecting your overall well-being.

Is it time for you to take the reins on compassion?

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