Compassion fatigue is a common hazard that care-givers face and is often the result of chronic stress that accompanies care-giving. Mother Teresa once wrote to her superiors, that it was imperative that her nuns take an entire year off to allow them to restore their own health and sense of well-being after long stints of caring for others.
Characterized by waking up tired, emotional exhaustion, loss of sense of self, isolation, feeling frustrated or easily irritated, aches, pains, and illness, compassion fatigue can take weeks to surface. The path back to wellness lies in self-care: getting adequate rest, moderate exercise, healthy food, and spending time socializing with family and friends.
The Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project created a “The Caregiver’s Bill of Rights” a helpful guide to self-care and wellness for professional caregivers.