According to the Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project, “denial is one of the most detrimental symptoms” because it prevents those who are experiencing compassion fatigue from accurately assessing how fatigued and stressed they actually are, which prevents them from seeking help.
To see where you fall on the compassion satisfaction/fatigue continuum, take the Professional Quality of Life (PROQOL) questionnaire, which was developed by Dr. Beth Hundall Stamm, one of the world’s leading experts on compassion fatigue. In addition to English, the PROQOL has been translated into 17 different languages, all of which can be found here. Although the measure was originally developed for professional “helpers,” it can provide important feedback about compassion fatigue, burnout, and life stress for anyone who spends a good deal of time helping others.
Taking the Compassion Fatigue self test
If it seems that you have scored high on the compassion fatigue scale (or any of the others), there is reason for optimism. Like burnout or any other stress-related disorder, compassion fatigue is not fatal, but it undoubtedly makes a difference to the quality of your daily routine, and consciousness is the first step to restoration. Dr. Stamm points out that through recognition and healthy self-care, individuals who encounter compassion fatigue can begin to be aware of complexity of the sentiments they’ve been “juggling and, most likely, suppressing.”
- Improve your awareness with understanding of the condition
- Recognize where you stand on your path at all times
- Share info and emotions with individuals who can validate you
- Explain your very own boundaries—what works for you and what doesn’t
- Be kind to yourself
- Talk about what you need verbally, and
- Undertake positive actions to alter your environment.
If your compassion fatigue score is low or average, that’s great, but you need to take measures to shield yourself. To assist in preventing compassion fatigue, Dr. Sood recommends:
- Limit how much day-by-day media you watch or read about
- Make an effort to fully understand the fact that pain and suffering are concrete realities of life over which we have little if any control
- Be thankful for what is good in the way you live and in the world
- Look for some meaning in the affliction you see around
- In the event you must pin the fault on something, blame the situation, not the person
- Display empathy to yourself by being kind, relaxing, and comforting to yourself
Citing studies from the University of Michigan and the University of Rochester Medical Center that discovered that in comparison to the late 1970s, empathy amongst students has dropped by more than 40 percent, Dr. Sood affirms that we live in an environment that frantically requires more compassion.
So, the last thing we need is for those who are most good at offering and expressing compassion to lose that gift to something totally avoidable.
When you are conscious of the indicators of compassion fatigue, you can protect against it and always do what you do best—change experiences for the better with one act of closeness at a time.