Have you ever felt overwhelmed and emotionally exhausted by trying to endure another person’s pain or suffering? If so, you’ve probably felt tired of compassion. But what is the fatigue of compassion?

Although you may not have heard this phrase before, at some point in your life, you have probably felt it on some level.

What is compassion fatigue?

Compassion fatigue can be described as the cost of caring for others in emotional pain. This happens when you try to accept someone else’s suffering as your own or provide support that extends beyond ordinary empathy and can ultimately be exhausting for you. But don’t be afraid! There are ways you can still be a caring person without always bumping into the ground.

Signs of compassion fatigue (and how to deal with them)

Here are four signs that you are tired of compassion and ways to manage each one.

1. Make the problems of others your own

Do you wake up in the morning and instantly feel emotionally drained from worrying about whether a particular friend or family member is okay and then try to think of ways to help? This may be a sign that you are going through the fatigue of compassion.

It is natural to worry about the well-being of someone you care for. However, when you can’t focus on anything else and feel the need to send messages or call that person to register, it’s best to take a step back.

It may be easy to focus on trying to help someone else in a difficult time, but when their problems are always on your mind, it leads to fatigue of compassion and you will feel a sense of heaviness.

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The next time you find yourself worrying about this other person’s pain and thinking about what you can do to make his day better, think about these suggestions:

Take a break

Take a few minutes to sit in silence and calm your mind. By taking the time to do a personal check, you may find that you are working at a low frequency when you are full of stress.

Take a breath, literally or figuratively

Meditation can clear your head and even help you figure out new ways to approach your friend’s situation without getting tired. You may also want to start your day by listening to positive music or making a healthy breakfast to distract yourself from the need to solve a loved one’s problems.

On the one hand, it is tempting to want to save someone in need, but obsessing over helping someone else is not productive for your own life.

Shift your focus

To manage compassion fatigue, consider focusing on other aspects of your own life or finding new activities to diversify your time. Try not to be overly stressed by their situation or solve their problems. When you take a place away from the pain of your loved one, those emotions that accompany the fatigue of compassion will not overwhelm you. You will feel more refreshed, as if the weight has been removed from your shoulders.

2. You attack

If you find that you are too irritable and easily annoyed with others, you are probably exhausted from focusing too much on your friend’s problems.

Remember this: The signs of compassion fatigue are manifested in how you treat people in your life who are not going through a difficult time.

When you are constantly afraid or worried about a friend in need, you may feel burned out. You may find that you are overdoing it or rushing to family or colleagues. Neglecting other people in your life who care about you or treating them badly results from accumulated frustration and stress. It takes a lot of strength to feel tired of compassion while still going through the movements of life.

By finding ways to relieve accumulated complaints and anxiety, whether it is physical activity or in-depth conversations, you will find that you are less emotionally unstable and treat others with care.

Those with compassion fatigue find the following suggestions helpful in protecting them from attack:

Don’t attack. Train!

To wash away your own feelings and exhaust your toxic energy, consider running or participating in a training class. A kickboxing session is a good way to get rid of any aggression, and venting your anger on a punching bag will prevent you from exploding against your spouse, family member or other friend. Moving your body will give you a surge of endorphins and allow you to feel recently rejuvenated.

Talk about it

When you’re trying to carry so much of someone else’s pain on your own shoulders, it’s a good idea to have someone to trust. This should be someone you trust, such as a loyal family member or therapist. Expressing your voice how it makes you feel when you are carrying someone else’s hardships is really helpful in clearing your head.

Write it down

Keeping a diary is another way to clear negative thoughts and freely express everything that worries you. When you manage to remove heavy emotions from your chest, you can spend more time focusing on inspiring activities or thoughts.

3. You are emotionally hopeless

When you feel tired of compassion, there are days when you are so upset by your friend’s suffering that you lack the energy to do anything and work with low vibrations. These negative feelings are intensified because you really want to help this person and guide him to a decision, but in fact you do not have the power to make decisions.

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Think of it this way: when you deal with your own stress, you are able to take action, but when it comes to someone else’s difficulties, you can’t force them to make a choice. This leads to a feeling of emotional hopelessness and exhaustion, but there are solutions for this:

Release control

You need to give up any expectation of your friend or family member making a change in response to something you offer. They just may not be ready yet. You can still offer advice or give potential solutions, but by releasing your assumptions, they will change, you will not feel disappointed or defeated.

Give yourself a place to feel

When you feel tired of compassion, it is helpful to allow yourself to cry well. It is exhausting to always try to be strong for a friend who is in pain, so giving yourself the freedom to break down and cry can make you feel very cathartic.

Take your Z

The amount of sleep you get also plays an important role in your emotional well-being. When you’re always worried about a loved one, you’re likely to have many sleepless nights, and when your brain is tired, you can say and do things that don’t always make sense.

Consider using a sleep aid such as melatonin or relaxing sounds to get more rest. Even a quick twenty-minute nap after work can make a huge difference in your energy levels and emotions. Providing enough rest to your mind and body will charge you so that you can make the right life decisions and give insightful advice.

4. Look for unhealthy habits

If you always try to be empathetic while trying to relieve your friend’s pain, you will become tired and exhausted. Feeling exhausted from harboring too much other people’s grief can lead you to turn to other vices. It is extremely difficult to be a guardian of someone else’s pain, so it is tempting to want to find unhealthy ways to feel good.

You may find that you eat junk food late at night, when you usually sleep soundly. Or maybe you’ve started gambling or trying banned substances as a way to have fun and distract yourself. When you are emotionally desperate, you may engage in toxic activities that bring fleeting joy. This is a sign of fatigue out of compassion. Try these suggestions to manage this symptom.

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Find a more positive outcome

When you are tempted by negative activities, instead turn your attention to something positive. Consider volunteering at a food bank or maybe even offering to be a dog walk. Sometimes you need to take the spotlight off someone’s negative situation and shed light on more productive or inspiring activities.

Find your (like-minded) people

Another approach to relieving this symptom of compassion fatigue is to consider joining a support group. It doesn’t have to be a community focused on dealing with pain and struggle, but it can be a Bible study group or a networking group. To be surrounded by like-minded people it can be invigorating and you may even find an ally who can sympathize with feelings of compassion fatigue and teach you new resources.

Instead of reaching for this dessert at midnight, consider listening to a new podcast or audiobook. With so many podcast topics and videos on YouTube, you’re sure to find some helpful tips. There is a lot of power in knowing that you are not alone in what you are experiencing. When you make friends with a new group of people or hear a quote in a video that really resonates with you, it can change your whole outlook on life. You will be able to give up unhealthy habits and direct this energy to valuable learning experiences.

Last thoughts

It’s good to be caring and want to help others. Empathy strengthens social ties and helps us work together to deal with social mistakes. But unfortunately, constant concern for the condition of friends and relatives can also lead to negative side effects in other behaviors.

However, if you start by identifying those signs and symptoms that you are going through with compassion fatigue, you can use the suggestions in this article to turn those emotions into more positive and productive events.

Presented photo credit: Anthony Tran via unsplash.com


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