Compassion fatigue has been described as “the cost” of caring.  It is a normal consequence of working in the helping field.  One way to address compassion fatigue is to develop your own early warning system. This system alerts you to signals of stress and distress, it is an effective and practical self-care strategy.  Think of your early warning system as a set of traffic lights.  The green zone indicates that you are on top of things, amber is a caution, which, if ignored can lead to serious consequences in the red zone.

What are some compassion fatigue warning signs?

  • Emotional and physical exhaustion
  • Feeling you have nothing more to give
  • Avoidance of certain clients
  • Absenteeism, decreased commitment to work
  • Feeling inadequate or ineffective
  • Isolation
  • Sleep problems
  • Reduced empathy
  • Inability to embrace complex thought
  • Detachment
  • Exaggerated sense of responsibility

I invite you either use the traffic light analogy, or visualise your own early warning system, to regularly take stock, and check in with how you are feeling.  Notice any changes in your thoughts, behaviour and body.  Are your stressors client related, organisational or personal?  Are you happily in the green zone or are you creeping closer to the red zone?