How to Deal with Compassion Fatigue and Burnout in Healthcare

How to Deal with Compassion Fatigue and Burnout in Healthcare

Working in healthcare can be stressful - healthcare professionals are facing burnout in healthcare and compassion fatigue.

Since the pandemic, nurses, physical therapists, and other healthcare professionals are facing burnout in healthcare and compassion fatigue on a scale rarely seen before. This physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion impacts not only healthcare workers but also their patients.

Recommended course: Mental Health Self-Care Checklist for PT Professionals

Be aware of changes

Monitor your feelings about your work and those you work with. Your levels of stress are going to change from day to day, and this can also depend on the health of those around you.

To figure out if you are reaching burnout in healthcare, take regular notes about how you are feeling. You can rate this on a scale of 1 to 10, but the way you measure is up to you. You may feel that 1 equals no burnout symptoms, whereas a 10 may be so unbearable that you must go home to deal with the compassion fatigue.

However you decide to go about it, this scale can help you determine how you are feeling on a daily basis. From there, you can know how to recognize symptoms and take care of yourself before burnout happens.

Make self-care a top priority

It can be easy to get caught up in the tasks of daily life and forget about taking care of yourself. A lot of us push taking care of ourselves to the bottom of our to-do lists. However, when we are not taking care of ourselves, the harder it is going to be to actually cross things off our to-do list.

This is especially true in long-term caregiving and in healthcare. It’s why it is important to set aside time for self-care. Self-care is different for everyone, but the following are great ways to get started taking care of yourself:

  • Exercising moderately 3 to 5 times per week
  • Taking time to do something you love like reading a book, spending time outdoors, or spending time with friends and family
  • Take breaks from the stress of your job by scheduling days off and taking any mental health days that you may need
  • Eat healthily and get enough sleep every night
  • Practice mindfulness such as gratitude, writing in a journal, and meditating

Join support groups

When you join a support group, you are going to be surrounded by people dealing with similar situations to you. They may also feel the burnout fatigue that you are going through as well. Having people next to you that know what you are going through can make a huge difference.

These groups are able to make you feel less alone and can even provide advice on how to deal with certain situations, especially if you're dealing with burnout. The great news is that these support groups are both online and in person, so you can join one that works for your schedule.

Learn your favorite coping mechanisms

We are all going to have moments of stress. It is how we handle that stress that can help us avoid compassion fatigue and burnout.

Although it can be easy to turn to handle stress in a negative way, it is much more effective and efficient to have positive coping mechanisms in your back pocket for when you get really stressed.

Here are some healthy coping mechanisms that you can keep with you:

  • When you are feeling overwhelmed, take a walk
  • Take deep breaths every few hours at work
  • Take a hot bath or shower after work to decompress

These are just a few of the many positive coping mechanisms you can use to feel better and prevent burnout.

Spend more time doing what you love

When you have free time, it can be tempting to lie on the couch and do nothing else. While it may feel great at the moment, it is not going to rejuvenate you or make you feel better when you end up going back to work in a couple of days.

Instead, you should spend your time off doing something you love. If you love hiking, be sure to schedule a hike on your days off. Do you love knitting? Find time to make this a part of your routine so that you are filling up your free time with things you love. This will rejuvenate you and make you feel better as you return to work. This is because you are doing it for yourself. It isn't related to chores, work, or healthcare.

Avoid compassion fatigue and burnout in healthcare

Working in healthcare can be stressful. Not only are you dealing with other people day in and day out, but the situations that you are dealing with can also be difficult. You constantly put others before yourself, and this can get exhausting.

Luckily, there are ways to cope with compassion fatigue and ways to avoid getting there in the first place. By following these tips, such as spending more time on your hobbies, practicing self-care, and joining support groups, you'll find you get burnout much less than before.

This article was written by Mehreen Rizvi

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