Burn out, exhaustion, compassion fatigue: each refers to state of working hard for others while neglecting your own needs. Symptoms include the following:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling mentally and physically tired
- Isolation from others
- Assortment of health issues that rear up
- and many others
Because of my work load and personal stresses this past year, I am veering towards compassion fatigue. It is a common problem for ministers, so I know the signs and symptoms. I know I can regroup and renew because I developed over the years a set of tools that I can unpack and use to get recharged.
I love the website for Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project. You learn there that awareness is the first step towards wholeness. In my case the awareness that I am getting burnt out is a gradual revelation. And, it is always my doctor who finally lowers the boom. This time, after visits for relatively minor ailments and an issue with a medication that I take, she finally said, you need to rest and address burnout. She told me I need to practice what I preach! How is that for frank medical advice ( what I preach and how I can practice it will be another post)?
Today I just want to highlight the problem and share some resources. If you feel compassion fatigue has taken over your life, start at the link above. The founder of the Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project has a link to resources, including other organizations.Also included at the website are self-tests so you can measure the level of your condition.
You do not have to be a professional care-giver to get compassion fatigue. Anyone who is a care-giver, say to a family member, is vulnerable, because we give up many of our own needs to care for others. We do so willingly so we must also be willing to acknowledge when we need a rest and when to reach out to others.