How to Overcome Compassion Fatigue in Nursing

Posted On March 4, 2013

compassion fatigue

Nurses are, of course, prone to compassion fatigue. It’s not difficult to understand why. As nurses treat more patients, there is tendency to feel “exhausted” or “weary” from caring too much. Nurses can become overwhelmed with showing compassion to their patients. Majority of nurses experience compassion fatigue so don’t feel like you’re alone.

Fortunately, there are ways to battle compassion fatigue. In fact, you only need to search online to find hundreds, if not thousands, of suggestions to fight this type of ailment. Here are some of the simpler solutions:

Smile

It sounds overtly simple to be any good but smiling can do wonders to prevent compassion fatigue. When we smile, it eases our interaction with patients and other people. It becomes easier to deal with stress. Finally, smiles are contagious. If someone sees you smiling, they can’t help but smile back and there is less dread all around to share, regardless of how grave a situation might be.

Think Selfish

It’s not a bad thing to be selfish every once in a while. You might think that looking out for number one is doing a disservice to your patients but the opposite couldn’t be truer. When you take care of yourself, you’re ensuring that you’re at the top of your game when you’re at work. So forget work when you’re at home and take that necessary five-minute break between rounds. Ensuring that your mental and spiritual health is at a hundred percent can spell the difference between mediocre or excellent care for your patients.

Learn How to Say No

This one can be quite difficult because nurses are such giving people that they don’t always know how to say “No”. Even when their plates are full, they tend to make room just to accommodate people. This is not always a good thing. Learning to prioritize and focus all your energy on one task at a time can help alleviate unnecessary stress in your life.

Understand that Not Everything is Under Your Control

Burnouts happen when nurses stress about circumstances they have no control over like, for instance, the death of a patient. Proper perspective is key to ensuring that we don’t exhaust ourselves working overtime on things that we can’t control. Yes, care. But understand that you can only care so much that to do more is not only harmful to yourself but also a detriment to your job.

Understanding what compassion fatigue is, learning to recognize it, and knowing how to combat it are part of the job. If you hope to thrive as a nurse with a healthy mind and body, create simple strategies in your life to make sure you don’t succumb to compassion fatigue and burnout. Remember, life isn’t just about your work. It’s about you too.