Compassion Fatigue

What I learned from Victoria Flint #ASTE19

After four full days of attendance at ASTE and presenting a three hour session on MakerSpaces, I was absolutely exhausted and absolutely ready for Victoria Flint's session: "Unplug to Stay Charged." I had created my own definition of decision fatigue after realizing why I was so tired after a day of library work and teaching. The kinds of decisions I had to make as a teacher librarian would exhaust me so much more than a full day of physical labor.

Victoria Flint's session on compassion fatigue took the idea of decision fatigue one step further. I can see myself and my colleagues as reflections of the different stages: zealot, irritable, withdrawn, zombie, renewed. She talked about each stage and how to recognize the traits in yourself or others.

Flint went on to define compassion fatigue as "the profound emotional and physical erosion that takes place when helpers are unable to refuel and regenerate."

Big picture

Running on Empty - a pdf document by Françoise Mathieu

Signs and Symptoms of Compassion Fatigue (by Françoise Mathieu)

Each individual will have their own warning signs that indicate that they are moving into the danger zone of compassion fatigue. These will include some of the following:

• Exhaustion

• Reduced ability to feel sympathy and empathy

• Anger and irritability

• Increased use of alcohol and drugs

• Dread of working with certain clients/patients

• Diminished sense of enjoyment of career

• Disruption to world view, Heightened anxiety or irrational fears

• Intrusive imagery or dissociation

• Hypersensitivity or Insensitivity to emotional material

• Difficulty separating work life from personal life

• Absenteeism – missing work, taking many sick days

• Impaired ability to make decisions and care for clients/patients

• Problems with intimacy and in personal relationships

The Professional Quality of Life Scale: the ProQOL

The embedded link below has a tool one can use to rank or measure your compassion fatigue or compassion satisfaction. Please note this tool is free to use with credit given to the author. It includes a self scoring guide. Additionally, there are some great resources to help with the concept of compassion fatigue and how to deal with it.

Now That You Know the Symptoms: Here are some solutions

Final Thoughts:

As Ms. Flint's presentation wrapped up, she left us with some final thoughts:

  • take stock of your stressors
  • look for ways to enhance your self-care and work/life balance (harmony)
  • develop resiliency skills
  • make a commitment to implement changes

AND - as a last note - consider checking out the TendAcademy resource page.