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4 Steps to Avoid Compassion Fatigue and Be Your Best Self as a Caregiver

Supporting a loved one that needs help sounds like a natural (and kind) inclination; however, several months or years of care may take their toll on your health.

Prolonged stressful care giving can lead to physical, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion, a type of burnout referred to as “Compassion Fatigue.”

Caregiver experiencing stress and fatigue from the toll its taking

Compassion fatigue is defined as:

A state of tension and preoccupation with the individual or cumulative trauma of clients as manifested in one or more ways (comparable to PTSD).

Ann Mehl, a certified coach specializing in life and career transitions at the Boston College Alumni House shares her story of how she cared for her mother who had suffered from Dementia and offers useful tools and self-care strategies to assist caregivers.

Signs of the need to recharge:

• Fatigue
• Reduced Productivity
• Irritability
• Difficulty Sleeping
• Difficulty Concentrating
• Stress
• Anxiety
• Not eating healthy foods

Tips on how to cope with Compassion Fatigue:

  1. Replenish the Well

    • Do something for yourself every day, even if it is just sitting quietly for five minutes alone without any distractions.

  2. Accept Help

    • Sharing the load of care giving can require some planning and delegation, whether it is asking a family member for help and/or working with a professional Home Care agency.

  3. Take off your Caregiver Hat

    • Leave the caregiver environment whenever possible to stay in touch with the outside world.

  4. Accept the Moment

    • Let go of trying to fix things; sometimes situations can be nearly impossible to fix; focus on being there for your loved one.

We recommend: "Address Caregiver Stress before you are a mess"

Caregiver experiencing joy and relief at taking time to avoid compassion fatigue

Check out these articles for more information:


care•giv•er   (kâr g v  r)
1. An individual, such as a physician, nurse, or social worker, who assists in the identification, prevention, or treatment of an illness or disability.

2. An individual, such as a parent, foster parent, or head of a household, who attends to the needs of a child or dependent adult.

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