Compassion Fatigue and Burnout
As human beings, it is difficult to take on the pain of others and not be affected. What happens when we take on the pain, worry, sadness, or anxiety of others and don’t refuel or replenish what is depleted in ourselves? This is the essence of compassion fatigue, or CF. It is what happens when take on the needs (or pain) of others, are affected by it, and make little time to care for our own needs. Over time, this can impact us on a number of levels detrimental to our own health.
Brené Brown shared in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, “In a society that says, ‘Put yourself last,’ self-love and self-acceptance are almost revolutionary.”
Research shows the impact of compassion fatigue and burnout can have grave effects on just about anyone who works in a helping environment but can affect a wide range of professions where someone can experience difficulty in the workplace, heavy workloads, excessive demands from others, and long hours.
Burnout is a response specific to work situations. This phenomenon is nothing new, but the term itself is identified as being most prevalent when there is a lack of social support, when we feel we are not valued in the workplace, or when the workload itself is difficult or unsustainable.
When there is a lack of social support or we do not feel appreciated for our contributions, burnout feels inevitable. It leads to detachment and depression where it spreads gradually and continuously over time that puts us in a downward spiral from which it is hard to recover. Burnout affects our physical health, impacts our ability to perform optimally at work, and influences our sense of morale.