Four Ways to Keep Tabs on Compassion Fatigue
Hilary and Greg Eldridge
Compassion fatigue means that the act of being a caregiver is wearing you down. You’re literally becoming fatigued by the compassion you’ve extended to this point. It can be recoverable, if you’re paying attention to how you’re feeling.
Track Your Emotions on a Chart
If you’re looking for a fast way to check in with yourself, a chart is the way to go. Figure out how you’re going to track your emotions, either by using a number system or a color chart, and then start tracking. The idea is to notice when you’re having days you’d classify as good or great, which days you feel overwhelmed, and so on. You might want to get really detailed and track things like anger, frustration, or resentment instead of just good or bad days. How detailed you get is up to you, but you can see at a glance when things aren’t going well for you emotionally.
Keep a Diary or Journal
One of the best ways to track compassion fatigue is with a diary or journal of some time. This might require a little more time than an emotional chart, but it gives you details you can use. You can start to see when things improve for you and you can keep track of what techniques help you to feel better and which ones don’t really work at all. This is all vital information that you may need to have.
Find a Caregiver Support Group
As a caregiver, having the support of other caregivers can help you to spot solutions and problems you might not have noticed. If you’re slipping back into signs of compassion fatigue, members of your support group who have gotten to know you can help you to spot that more quickly. They can also share with you what worked for them and how they were able to get past what you’re going through.
Prioritize Your Needs
You cannot continue to ignore yourself in order to keep being a caregiver. If you do, the situation is only going to get worse and you may not be able to be a caregiver any longer. That’s something you definitely want to avoid if at all possible. Make sure that you’re paying attention to what you need and that you’ve got backups in place to take over for you when you need to step away.
Being a caregiver is tough work. There’s a lot to keep up with, both in terms of your senior’s care and your own emotional needs. Do what you can to create balance for yourself.
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