Most of us take on the role of a caregiver either at home or as a profession. We usually start our role with high ideals to support, to make a difference, but along the road, over time, we become overwhelmed, and we begin to lose our enthusiasm and motivation to care. More recently, it has been pointed out, that "compassion fatigue" is actually a misnomer and that it should be renamed “empathy distress fatigue”.
One of the concerns with burnout is that it can go unnoticed for quite a while until it is too late. The burnout symptoms can increase gradually, amongst a great deal of denial, until it becomes very obvious and more difficult to resolve. Therefore, the earlier you can recognize the signs, the earlier you can begin to alleviate it.
Chronic stress puts a lot of pressure on us physically and mentally. Often, we can manage stress over a short period but when it becomes constant, it will begin to negatively impact our health. In this article, we will look at burnout, describing the signs and symptoms, the conditions where it is most likely to arise and why you should attend to it before it’s too entrenched.
Our most important relationship is the one we are having with our self. We can give to ourselves the acceptance and the affection that we are so much wanting to receive from others. And when we offer ourselves kindness and love our life is changed for the better! Befriending ourselves is the practice of self-compassion.
The “not being enough” stories are actually destructive, sabotaging our best efforts. Instead, we can adopt a practice of choosing again, to accept ourselves okay as we are. We are perfectly imperfect! Work in progress! Rather than focus on what we are not, we can begin to appreciate what is good in us, as starting blocks to improve.
A brand new year! To begin anew again! This year my focus will be on the practice of Loving-Kindness. Let us cultivate good will! Let us wish one another, including ourselves, what we most desire; happiness, peace, good health and success. We know that it is good to wish well and to love others, but we are often reluctant to receive or give ourselves the same good wishes and love. So this year, we may include ourselves in our circle of good will and compassion so that we may thrive.
I have a confession to make. There was many Christmas in my life where, instead of being so “perfectly” happy, I was so “perfectly” unhappy. My expectations were way too high! I had this fantasy that Christmas “should” bring me “perfect” happiness. I was convinced that everybody else was having a “perfect” time at Christmas except me. Years after years, I felt so hurt; compared to my expectations, Christmas was always so “ordinary”. However over time, fortunately, I changed my mind. I gave myself the gift of expecting less and appreciating more. And in so doing Christmas became so much more joyful and fulfilling.
Our mind is constantly busy judging wrong from right, bad from good, weak from strong, safe from dangerous and so on…. We can’t help the workings of our brain; it is called the default mode or negative thinking bias. It is part of our survival mechanisms; thousands of years ago, we thrived because we were continually looking out for what could be threatening. It lead to our survival, but today it does not help us to be happy.
Relationships are at the center of our life: whether it’s our spouse, children, parents, co-workers, clients, patients, students or customers. Our greatest moment of joy or pain are in our relationships with others. Developing mindful awareness with self-compassion can help us create more understanding, harmony and love in our relationships.
We can slow down the busy mind so we can get in touch with our heart. Our mind is busy chatting, thinking always. Instead, we can gently open to our awareness in the present. Regardless of the situation, we do not need to be constantly preoccupied by the details, the stories, the frustrations, the expectations. We can reduce the stress. The practices of mindfulness and self-compassion can bring back the beauty of the moment, savoring simply. Fortunately, there is an alternative to our constant mind chatter.
As a professional, it can be difficult at times to maintain our enthusiasm and dedication for a higher standard of service delivery in the face of increasing demands and pressures in our work place. You probably have entered the profession with a passion for helping others, but years later your compassion may have faded a little, experiencing more fatigue. Sometimes, we may grow resentful at the inadequacies of the organizations. Burnout can present itself in various ways; maybe feeling less effective, questioning, doubting ourselves, becoming less tolerant of our colleagues, feeling isolated or dissatisfied.