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The Cycle of Compassion Fatigue

If you are in the helping profession or employ anyone in the helping profession you want to keep reading.

We enter the helping profession because we want to help. Sometimes we help without recognizing or honoring our mental and emotional capacities. This boundless help places us at risk for Compassion Fatigue- the emotional exhaustion from providing excessive empathy to others and not enough to ourselves.

Compassion fatigue, the emotional and physical exhaustion helping professionals experience due to prolonged exposure to traumatic situations, has five stages, each with its own characteristics. The stages of compassion fatigue are as follows:

1. Pre-Cumulative Stress: The initial stage of compassion fatigue is pre-cumulative stress. This stage is characterized by feelings of enthusiasm, energy, and a sense of purpose. At this stage, the person is still able to maintain their sense of empathy and compassion for those they are caring for.

2. Cumulative Stress: This stage is marked by a gradual decline in enthusiasm and energy. The person may start to feel overwhelmed, burned out, and even resentful of the responsibility of caring for others. They may also become more emotionally detached and begin to withdraw from the situation.

3. Crisis: In this stage, the person is overwhelmed and unable to cope with the demands of caring for others. They may feel numb, have difficulty concentrating, and experience a range of physical symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and insomnia.

4. Post-Crisis: This stage is characterized by a gradual recovery. The person may begin to feel more connected to the situation and the people they are caring for. They may also start to reconnect with their own needs and find ways to take care of themselves.

5. Reintegration: In this stage, the person has regained their sense of empathy and the ability to care for others. They may also start to feel more connected to their own needs and take better care of themselves. It is important to recognize the signs of compassion fatigue and take steps to manage it.

Building a foundation of self-awareness, self-compassion and self soothing techniques is essential for helping professionals. This includes recognizing these signs through regular daily check ins on how you are responding to stress, being kind to yourself despite what is going on around you, incorporating regular movement, relaxation techniques, and spending time with safe people. If necessary, professional help may also be beneficial.

By recognizing the signs of compassion fatigue and taking steps to manage it, helping professionals can avoid burnout and continue to do the work they love from a place of fulfillment and rejuvenation.

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To Your Health and Prosperity,


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