Posted in Compassion, Did you know?

Avoiding Compassion Fatigue

7 tips on Self Care

I may have spoken about compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma in the past but this is a good time of year to remind people of this sneaky, subtle condition that can make or break you.

Who is at-risk for Compassion Fatigue?

Compassion fatigue may occur in a range of persons involved in providing care to others .  Psychologists, social workers, lawyers, disaster relief workers, nurses, psychiatrists, medical doctors, emergency service professionals, police, crisis phone-line attendants and shelter workers among others, are all susceptible to Compassion Fatigue.  But it is not limited to only these workers.  Teachers, air traffic controllers, daycare workers, personal support workers, volunteers, paralegals, law clerks and so many more.  For example, a law clerk or lawyer are exposed to listening sometimes to horrific stories day in and day out.  Unfortunately, too often it is not always acknowledged and they may wonder why they are feeling so tired, and experiencing other emotional symptoms.

What is Vicarious trauma?

Vicarious trauma means simply that a person who is exposed to and listen or witnessing trauma, crisis situations of another individual, you can almost live it through the details of that person sharing their experience with you.  Once you’re aware of this, it helps to take a step back…do some self-care…take a mental health day…just back away a bit. IF however you are not able to clue into the signs, it can accumulate to the point that you may experience what many call burn-out and a step further would  be compassion fatigue.

Some have experienced this type of fatigue and it can take a while to regain your ‘old’ self.  I remember taking time off work for about 4 or 5 months many years ago.  I was over worked, volunteering, raising a family, going to university part-time, I had personal problems I was avoiding…so this busy-ness was my escape…not good! My body broke down…I usually say, my body stopped before my nerves broke down.  But now I know the signs and take self-care very seriously.  I prepared a workshop for my work two years ago on Vicarious Trauma and Compassion Fatigue to help my colleagues learn the signs to avoid this and to do more self-care.

To read more in-depth information on Vicarious Trauma, click here.  

© Cheryl-Lynn, 2014/02/12

One way to start is to practice Resilience…this video is an introduction on how to start understanding the importance of Resilience.

The Good and Bad News About Resilience

Here is a poem I wrote about surrendering to self-care.

Tired surrender

Times you may feel
you care a great deal
wish you could help more
suffering, pain and sore
spirits and hearts
make you sometimes
want to fall apart.
Days, turn into weeks,
time just seems to drag
on and on and on.
You start to get edgy
can’t seem to sleep every night
you have nightmares that might
keep you up, they’re too scary;
You start to forget, become wary
it’s harder and harder to focus
impatience starts to follow suit
and soon you realize it’s that time…
You need to take some time for you,
you need to surrender yourself,
to self-care, wellness to restore
your mental well-being.
Surrender your mind and soul,
pamper yourself, your body whole,
massages, bubble baths,
allow friends to treat you
refrain from resisting support
take back your “self”
regain your mental
and physical whole SELF
you’re tired now…
Surrender…tired surrender…
Open yourself to soothing,
restoring, healing your SELF!

© Cheryl-Lynn, 2014/02/12



A little bit about moi: I am a mom, a nana, a sister, a woman, a friend, a human being…a youth counsellor, Family Life Educator. I have been working in the helping profession for over 25 years and volunteered in various capacities from youths to seniors. Tournesol is my nom de plume for haiku and other Japanese form poetry here at Tournesoldansunjardin I hope you enjoy reading through my daily waka. I also have another blog "Stop the Stigma" where I may stand on my soapbox now and then and hope it will become a place to drop in and share or comment on issues important to you. In that vein this could be a great way to learn from each other. Namaste!

28 thoughts on “Avoiding Compassion Fatigue

  1. This is SO important to remember, yet I always forget. I was the “caregiver” in my family growing up, then in all my jobs. Now that I’ve turned to blogging through the childhood abuse, I get caught up in taking care of everyone else. I’ve actually just realized I do that to deflect the attention from myself. Thanks for a great post/reminder!


    1. Definitely, do take care of yourself FIRST . How can you be of any use to anyone if number UNO is flat on her back…literally like I was today. Glad this has helped you:)


    1. Thanks! I was going to get my info from my presentation but there is way too much info threre…the links I included are quite extensive. I like the video however. I often refer to that institute. Now I guess I should get off my fanny and exercise more …hmmmm


      1. Let’s not talk about exercise….now that it’s stopped raining (I hope for a few days!) I should start walking and quick!


      2. I do alpine walking…I think it has another name but can’t think of it now, but actually you walk with ski poles…which is kind of hard to do whilst holding an umbrella…still after this winter’s flu and health mess up I’ve not been doing much of even regular walking…not good.


      3. My son lives in Rougemont a small hill of course compared to other mountains here but if you look on my facebook, you’ll see he took some pics last weekend.


      4. I’ll go and visit…I’m not much of a facebook person as you know, but when there’s something worth-while I’m happy to it exists!


      5. same here. Blogging is much more intersesting. I do drop by from time to time for msgs…when I remember (sigh) 🙂


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