Burnout occurs on a continuum . In the early stages you have less energy and need to make more of an effort to deal with everyday pressures. You may be more negative, quick to anger, have a reduced sense of accomplishment, feel tired more often, become more withdrawn and experience increased interpersonal conflicts. You feel numb, disillusioned, hardened and overwhelmed.You may have more colds and in the later stages suffer more severe health problems.
Compassion fatigue is a type of burnout that can include all of the above plus persistent arousal, re-playing scenes from clients' traumatic events and absorbing their emotional suffering. You become preoccupied with the trauma, suffering intrusive thoughts and helplessness.
The long- term effects include reduced empathy, diminished sense of personal safety, a reduced sense of control and hopelessness. You may indulge in escape activities, chronic over eating/drug or alcohol use.
The impact on work performance includes low morale, absenteeism, feeling unappreciated, task avoiding, low motivation and apathy.
Ask yourself these questions:
Is it easier for you to give than to receive?
Do you have the tendency to take on other people's suffering?
Do you go above and beyond what is expected of you?
Is it challenging to set limits?
Here are some challenges that you may need to work on:
Set limits more effectively.
Stop putting others' needs before your own needs.
Stay empathic but without taking on your client's problems.
Learn to prevent and work through burnout and compassion fatigue.
Recognize the unique stress involved in helping others.
Prevent and counteract burnout.
Identify attitudes that limit your attention to self-care.
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