Carers are often labelled as the heroes of our society because of the meaningful work they do in looking after others. However, it’s important to recognise that being a caregiver requires a significant amount of mental and physical energy, which can sometimes leave carers feeling burnt out or overwhelmed.
Whether you provide care as part of your employment or you provide care to a loved one, you are at risk of experiencing compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue is generally described as a diminishment of the compassionate instinct, experienced because of the physical, emotional and psychological impact of helping others over a long period of time.
At St Johns Community Care, we understand the importance of looking after the people who look after other people. We have a range of community care services that aim to relieve caregivers from their duties and give them opportunity for respite. In addition to our support services, there are a range of others steps that carers can take to reduce the likelihood of compassion fatigue and to address it when they do start to feel burnt out.
Here are some of the top tips from the St Johns Community Care team when it comes to overcoming compassion fatigue:
Be aware of what compassion fatigue is – and take notice of changes to your levels of compassion.
As mentioned above, compassionate fatigue can be described as a type of stress or indifference that results from helping others over a long, demanding period. Being aware of changes in your level of compassion fatigue will help you to act early to avoid complete burnout.
Always prioritise your own wellbeing.
Self-care should always be made a priority. Don’t ignore the signs of compassion fatigue – make time for yourself and stay in touch with how you are feeling.
Allocate time for your own interests in hobbies.
Whether you enjoy hiking or watching movies, you should always make time for activities that you find relaxing and enjoyable.
Spend time with people that you don’t provide care to.
It’s essential that you spend time with other friends and family members (aside from those that you are a caregiver to), as this will help you to relax and enjoy other parts of your life.
Talk about it.
Compassion fatigue is not something to be ashamed of, and it’s important that you talk about the issue with your friends, colleagues, or a psychologist. They may have experienced similar feelings in the past and be able to provide advice and tips on how to overcome the burnout. Joining a caregiver support group may give you a suitable platform for expressing your concerns.
Find positive ways to cope with stress.
When feeling stressed or overcome with emotions, you need to find a positive way to deal with these sentiments. For some people, activities like journaling or drawing can help to release stress. Other people may benefit from talking with friends or a trained professional. Either way, be sure to put your own wellbeing at the forefront, which may include seeking our professional community care services to support those you care.