I am taking a coach approach to compassion fatigue today . So instead of quoting you statistics and all the studies that demonstrate why you are at risk . I want to ask you to look into your behaviors and actions that you can manage while you work in a high risk environment. In coaching our studies demonstrate that your personal beliefs drive your actions and your choices on a daily basis. Some of these beliefs were taught or handed down from our families, some we get from messages from society , our peers or our friends, Not all of these beliefs are helpful or useful, Compassion fatigue from a coaching perspective involves helping you building your own emotional muscles by reflecting on on your current patterns and actions.
Veterinary professionals are known for their love and passion for pets and animals. This passion, coupled with positive and negative outcomes of the work they do, puts veterinary professionals in a position to face compassion fatigue in their lives. Health care professionals are at risk due to the high cost of caring for others in emotional and physical pain. This is a complex issue, so please remember this post is just a starting point to increase your awareness of what you can do for yourself in a high risk profession.
How to lower your risk of compassion fatigue?
Building up your emotional muscles or gaining skills that help you to adapt to stressful situations will build up your emotional resilience.
What do resistant people do? Can you learn these skills? Yes
Who are your support systems?
Friends, family, co- workers- having a social network who supports you and each other will boast your resilience level and lower your stress level.
Self care is critical, not optional
Self care- develop a self care system that supports you in your personal. emotional, mental and physical health. Learn to say no to request for your time. Strong reasonable boundaries will help reduce the impact of compassion fatigue
Pause here and write down 3 things you know help you recharge your battery
Develop a positive outlook
Appreciate and give yourself credit along the way-
Celebrate the small steps of progress – random acts of kindness- all these small things add up to give us a sense of satisfaction and purpose for each day- if we look for them
What we focus on grows
What do you do to recognize your success or daily positive events? What could you do to pay more attention to them?
Accept the fact that change is constant
Things, people and situations around you will change on a regular basis you will need to change along with it.
One thing we seek as humans is certainty- knowing what will happen, gathering information -understanding the future and making plans- having certainty is reassuring- it makes us comfortable
Yet life is full of uncertainty- so being able to deal with a level of uncertainly is part of building up our emotional muscles.
I hope that I have given you ideas on how resilient people deal with stress- skills and behaviors that are learned
I have asked you to reflect on how your beliefs impact your choices and asked you to consider how actions can support your or hinder you with your own goals.
Finally I would like to stress the value of self -care
Is what you are currently doing enough to sustain you in this profession?
What are your barriers? What gets in the way? What steps would you need to take to start making changes that would impact you in a positive way
Please write down one step you will commit to taking next week that will support your personal self care goals.
Start talking to your peers or friends, you do not have to walk this path alone.
Coaching is one support system that can help you deal with compassion fatigue .
It is easy to say, just take better care of yourself. It is not that easy to implement in a high stress, busy health care profession.
You deserve and need an advocate and support system to create changes that will build up your emotional muscles and reduce the risk of compassion fatigue in your daily life.
Contact Coach Gwen for a personal complimentary strategy session.
As healthcare professional for over 30 years, I am fluent in the language of secondary trauma from caring for others.