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Running on Empty? Learn to avoid Compassion Fatigue at Workplace

Compassion fatigue is more likely to affect professionals with less experience and people who willingly help others in short-term spurts.

Running on Empty? Learn to avoid Compassion Fatigue at Workplace

Friday February 21, 2020,

6 min Read

A hostile workplace environment wherein dysfunction and drama reign, whether it’s the result of a narcissistic boss, vindictive coworkers, absence of discipline, outflow of excessive bad news, et cetera; highly cost some employees who pay for immense caring. In addition, the environment which is harming the morale of the employees, this kind of climate for caretaker in careers creates a different kind of stress leading to “compassion fatigue”, also called “vicarious traumatization” or it is a term bandied about as secondary disorder which is the emotional residue or strain of exposure to working with those suffering from the consequences of traumatic events. Thus more empathetic and open to others’ burnouts & pain the workers are, the more likely they will share those victims’ feelings of heartbreak and devastation”.

It's only February! And it is a terrible month with constant explosion of several bad news all the way coming from the media or social media — from the outbreak of Corona-virus, Kobe Bryant's unexpected death news or tensions over Third World War to unfortunate overloaded job responsibilities with repeated mistreatment, bullying or humiliation at toxic workplace can lead to excessive burnout and cause resentment to the employees which will definitely create a physical and a mental exhaustion to the other employees who care for the one suffering.


Compassion fatigue is more likely to affect professionals with less experience and people who willingly help others in short-term spurts. These armature employees may have less coping mechanisms and debriefing opportunities as those who repeatedly work with traumatized people in hostile work environments. Also, due to the extensive social media coverage of human suffering and worldwide disasters, more people are beginning to report symptoms that mirror those of compassion fatigue which is taking a huge toll in their career and personal lives.


Essentially, compassion fatigue can occur due to indirect exposure on one case or due to a cumulative level of trauma. It is a quick-onset engrossed like a great rock inside your head which is immovable with the midst of emotional exhaustion, confusion, callousness, anxiety and loneliness caused due to feelings of inequity toward the therapeutic or caregiver relationship. The gradual lessening of compassion can easily weigh down your self-esteem and unable to nurture their inner-self.



Burnout V/S Compassion Fatigue


Untreated or unmanaged compassion fatigue can result in burnouts, but there’s a significant overlap between compassion fatigue and burnouts. Burnouts are related to the job environments wherein compassion fatigue are normal displays of chronic stress resulting from showing empathy towards the employees who are suffering or getting upset about the constant rolling bad news in media or treatments in toxic workplace.


Navigate Signs of Compassion Fatigue


 In April 2018, a woman wrote to an advice columnist at the New York Times, asking for help in overcoming the sense of political paralysis. Basically she was extremely crippled with inaction and mortified by the injustice. So compassion fatigue can lead to anxiety, numbing towards tragedy and even depression. You must navigate these symptoms within you.


1.     Difficult separating work life from traumatized events or a person at workplace

2.     Preoccupation with trauma

3.     Withdrawing from work or compassion

4.     Isolation and loneliness

5.     loss of purpose in life

6.     impaired immune system

7.     bottled-up emotions within due to loss of Morales

8.    Loss of Self-worth due to hopelessness

9.     Inevitable numbness, chillness and panic disorders

Compassion has been increasing among millennial and professionals in today’s generation and those at risk needs to be encouraged to make them more resilient.  Individuals suffering from compassion fatigue will often wander off and adopt the tendency of escapism (escape from reality) for the absorption of peace and relief. Compassion fatigue can cause the sense of impending doom or danger. It can also cause tumbling and shaking.


To-do’s to handle Compassion Fatigue at Workplace.

 Interestingly! American comedian “Hasan Minhaj” said that we have “50 tabs open in our mental browsers all the time". According to him people are about to crash with those multiple mental tabs open 24 hours and 365 days. All we need to do is close a couple of tabs in our brain and handle the situation very precisely.

Balance your Empathy - Mostly, people who are a natural empath go as far as feeling the depths of the world’s problems—they see the hurt, pain, and confusion caused by war, greed, and injustice happening in the workplace or social environment, and they feel all of it, too. This can lead to compassion fatigue your state of emotions are unbalanced and it becomes challenging to cope up. It’s highly imperative to understand how to make empathy work for you so you don’t become a victim to other people’s emotions and thought processes. And an ideal way to balance your empathy is to — Put yourself first! This can go against the grain of anyone who is victimized. However, as the proverb says — “One cannot pour from an empty cup.” so make sure your cup is filled all the time. As making sure your needs is taken care of, you will be able to better take care of other people. Set boundaries and be selective in your response to avoid becoming a prone to get caught up in other people’s stories and then riding the rollercoaster of emotions and focus on yourself.

Discover version of yourself - Becoming the best version of yourself means getting back to your quintessential self. Finding a great hobby or taking a sabbatical break from your job doesn't have to be a blemish. It's a nail down strategy for self-improvement; you must propel yourself to uncover the essentials within you. “You-ness”– the values, interests and passions that define who you are in life and the world. Once you understand yourself, you’re able to define a clear vision of your best self and map out your route to get there.

Reduce Those Tech Carving - Social media is always noisy; even though the sound won’t hurt your ears, it will definitely hurt your mind with an exposure to constant bad news. Cutting down on social media and building a strong and supportive team around you that you can debrief with both personally and professionally. Self-care is very important if you don’t want to deal with big emotional tolls all the way coming from other people. It is recommended that people reduce the tech and try to meditate, pray, practice mindfulness or yoga. Walking in nature, reading spiritual texts, listening to music or taking up a hobby that helps fuel the inner self are also really good ways to help cope with carrying emotional weight.