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Compassion Fatigue

One’s role as a care partner can be stressful and challenging. Ignoring negative emotions and these challenges can lead to compassion fatigue. Let’s review how to prevent and combat compassion fatigue. 


What is compassion fatigue? 

It is the feeling of exhaustion, frustration, loss of energy, and self-blame. Compassion fatigue is not the same thing as burnout. Burnout involves short-term bouts of exhaustion while compassion fatigue has effects more long-term. One may feel burn out at first which can then progress to compassion fatigue if not addressed. 



Signs of compassion fatigue 

Irritability. This may be towards the person requiring care or other people in your life. Frustration and anger can build and make one more irritable if it is not addressed. 


Isolation. Your loved one may have a harder time leaving the house, which leads to you having a harder time leaving the house. This can bring the feeling of isolation for both you and your loved one. Isolation can also be felt if you, the care partner, becomes overwhelmed and copes by disconnecting yourself from others around you.


Insecurity. Feeling of failure, guilt, and self-doubt are common for those who begin to develop compassion fatigue.


Fatigue. Your time as a care partner is devoted to your loved one. Unless you priorotize yourself or regularly schedule breaks for yourself, your energy can be drained. Self care and time for rest and relaxation is crucial. 



How to prevent it 

Regularly schedule self-care. Talk with other family members or loved ones to help take over your role while you take a moment for yourself. Self-care for some can look like an exercise class, walking through a park, reading a book, and so much more. Pick something that is important to you. 


Establish boundaries. This can be with your loved one with PD or other family or friends. 


Develop coping skills. Talk with a psychologist or with a support group about how others cope and determine what is best for you. Having a set of skills like journaling, meditation, prayer, breathing, reading etc. can help ground you. 



Check out the local listings of care partner support groups here




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