Compassion Fatigue or Empathy Fatigue?

Later this month I am speaking to a group of nurses on how to use Mindfulness for Compassion Fatigue. Although my presentation is mostly I complete, I spent a few hours yesterday researching to add greater depth to my understanding.

Compassion Fatigue is an extreme state of stress resulting from helping those suffering and a preoccupation with the suffering of others. Although incredibly common in healthcare, parents and other caregivers may also struggle. It occurs when you do not recognize and take care of your own needs.

Psychologists now regard Compassion Fatigue as Empathy Fatigue. As humans we are hard wired to be empathetic. Mirror neurons allow for you to feel another’s pain and suffering and this is what moves you to be being compassionate and wanting to help. Empathy drives compassion. It is when you can’t separate another’s pain and suffering from your own and don’t make choices to take care of yourself that problems develop.

Awareness is always the first step in any type of healing. If you don’t know your limitations, if you don’t know your boundaries, if you don’t know how you are feeling, if you don’t know how to reduce stress, and if you don’t how to practice self-care then you are putting yourself at risk.

Mindfulness means to be in the present moment and be at peace. Mindfulness based practices allow you learn how to stop and reconnect to yourself. The process of going inward allows you to understand what is going on within and around you. Mindfulness cultivates curiosity, kindness, and even compassion but in a way that allows you to take care of your own needs.

One popular mindful self-care practice referred to as ” Loving Kindness” may look something like this:

Take a moment to sit down and notice your breathing. Put your hand over your heart. Close your eyes if it feels good to do so. Mentally repeat,”May I be at peace, May I be well, May I be loved, May I be happy. (You can choose any words that feel good and that are kind and compassionate). Put your other hand on your heart. Notice the difference. Choose a mantra again and repeat it. Notice how you feel when you are done.

There are numerous ways to do this practice and countless other Mindfulness skills you can learn to do easily and implement right now, even for two minutes.

To learn more about how Mindfulness can help you or your organization please set up a time to visit with me by phone

Thank you,

Amy McCae

Corporate Wellness Trainer. Life Coach. Mindfulness Meditation Teacher. Holistic Wellness Expert.