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Looking after ourselves

Community Manager

Understanding and combatting Compassion fatigue

Hi everyone,


Last night we had a Topic Tuesday event around exploring compassion fatgiue - check it out here


We discussed what compassion fatigue was, how it differed from burn out - the different signs to look out for when considering if it's burn out or compassion fatigue and then also looked at tips and strategies to look after ourselves through this. I thought the conversation could continue here and I'll tag those that were involved in the event (no pressure to get involved here though!) and perhaps you can share one thing that you learnt from the event that you could share to others that weren't there last night?


What interested you from the knowledge shared? If you had a friend struggling with potential burn out of compassion fatigue, what from last nights event would you want to share with them to help for instance?


If you weren't there - what do you know about this topic, have you had any experiences of compassion fatigue that you know of? 



@Faith-and-Hope @Smc @Determined @Volcanogirl @CheerBear @Live50 @outlander @Adge @LHP20 (please tag anyone I may have missed!)




Re: Understanding and combatting Compassion fatigue

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Re: Understanding and combatting Compassion fatigue

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Re: Understanding and combatting Compassion fatigue

Hello @Darcy , @Lauz 

sorry I missed the night , will have a read

Re: Understanding and combatting Compassion fatigue

hello @Rockpool , @outlander , @LHP20 , @Volcanogirl , @Smc , @CheerBear , @Adge , @Faith-and-Hope , @Live50 , @VeeM , @Corny , @LittleSister , @Janiee



Compassion fatigue signs:

  • Physical or emotional exhaustion (or both)
  • Reduced feelings of sympathy or empathy
  • Dreading carer tasks and caring for someone and feeling guilt about this
  • Feeling irritable, angry, or anxious
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling disconnected
  • Withdrawing socially
  • Reduced sense of accomplishment or meaning in caregiving
  • Trouble making decisions


Burnout signs:

  • Physical exhaustion, where you feel tired most of the time and may even feel as though you are not able to complete tasks to the same standard you once did
  • Changes in appetite, either eating for comfort or losing your appetite all together
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Frequent headaches and tension
  • Lowered immunity resulting in frequent sickness
  • Loss of motivation
  • Feeling helpless
  • Increased cynicism and negative view of current situation
  • Decreased satisfaction or sense of accomplishment
  • Feeling a sense of guilt or shame, or doubting your skills and ability to assist the person you care for
  • Social withdrawal
  • Procrastination



Re: Understanding and combatting Compassion fatigue

On the point of reduced feelings of sympathy or empathy with compassion fatigue, are there any thoughts on the opposite of this. Over emphasizing with unrelated people or events, often for relatively 'minor' events while struggling with sympathy and empathy for those closest, paticually loved ones we are supporting? 


Re: Understanding and combatting Compassion fatigue

Thats a really interesting question @Determined !

So, when you feel high levels of empathy for a stranger on the news for instance yet feeling a bit disengaged from your loved ones and empathy with them? Is that right?


Have others felt this or had this kind of experience? 

Re: Understanding and combatting Compassion fatigue

Sorry for the late reply @Lauz  have been super busy. 

 I think my question was more around the over emphasizing with strangers but there can definatly be reduced empathy for loved ones. 


It is a bit hard to explain the feelings of empathy for loved one because they fluctuate so widely (not sure if this is part if the compassion fatigue or not) I can go from uneffected emotionally to something 'big' (not that I dont care just there is no emotion) to overreacting in my response to a relatively small problem.  Always afterwards there are feelings of guilt around the lack of emotion. 

Re: Understanding and combatting Compassion fatigue

Hi @Determined 

Those feelings of guilt must be hard? What have you done in the past to help manage that? It seems like compassion can be something that really fluctuates. Has anyone else in this thread so far found similar feelings?

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