Koo shares this wonderful article:
Compassion fatigue is the exhaustion due to the stress and demand of being empathetic and helpful to those who are suffering. Animal caregivers may experience this and not realise it. It eventually leads to burnout and once that happens, turning back may be difficult.
To avoid compassion fatigue, one must be able to care for oneself first. This is not an option. Compassion fatigue takes away the ability of do good work.
Self-care is about finding ways to restore a balance between the negative and the positive by cultivating aspects of our lives that support us when the going gets (and stays) tough.It’s about making a commitment to caring for yourself as deeply and seriously as you care for the animals. Because if you don’t, if you allow yourself to become mentally and physically run down, mired in negativity, sadness, and anger, then you can’t do your job all that well.
If you’re saying to yourself: “I don’t have time for self-care. The animals need me constantly!” I want you listen up:
Research shows that there is a correlation between ethical violations and Compassion Fatigue. Which means Compassion Fatigue can cause us to cause harm to others.
That means: YOU ARE ETHICALLY OBLIGATED TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.
When we disregard our own needs in order to keep giving to others it’s not just bad for us, it’s unethical. So if you think that being a good caretaker means caring until you collapse you are wrong. In order to be a good caretaker, you must take care of yourself so that you can care for others properly. Otherwise, you have the potential to harm those that you are caring for.
Let me say this again: it is UNETHICAL TO NEGLECT SELF CARE. So it’s not indulgent to take care of yourself. It’s not a sign of weakness. It takes courage to commit to self-care. It’s the right thing to do. It’s not optional.
Another way to avoid compassion fatigue is build Compassion Satisfaction. This is celebrating and finding joy in our successes, no matter how small they may be. Never discount any positive act that we do. Celebrate it and feel good about it.
Remember we can only do so much, and this much is good enough.
Small is beautiful!