Mental Health

How to Recover from Compassion Fatigue and Burnout

Enduring the many waves of the pandemic as a therapist has been a perfect recipe for compassion fatigue and burnout.

We have lived through the exact same situation as our clients over the past two years – isolation, being down and out with COVID, sick family members and friends – all while trying to navigate how we feel about the whole thing. None of us have been through a pandemic before, and the strategies we were once able to provide to our clients may no longer feel suitable with potential lockdowns, changing restrictions, and the unknown of what lies ahead.

Enduring the many waves of the pandemic as a therapist has been a perfect recipe for compassion fatigue and burnout.

You might be exhausted from pretending as though you have it all together – for your clients’ sake and your own! Others may look at your life and admire your achievements, yet you might feel like you aren’t good enough or are falling apart at the seams. Or maybe your friends and family compliment you on the amazing ways you’ve been supporting your clients though these tough times, but somehow you can only focus on what isn’t quite right.

Perhaps you’re stressed all the time, struggling to manage everything because it’s all starting to pile up. You might feel like you need your own support or therapy, but you also know that your peers are as overwhelmed as you are. Maybe you’ve always been a self-motivated go-getter who’s hard on yourself about seeming as if nothing gets to you. This used to get the job done, but lately you’ve felt like you’re drowning. You’re not really present . . . not really excited about anything, but you show up anyway and put a smile on your face just like you always have.

We have lived through the exact same situation as our clients over the past two years, all while trying to navigate how we feel about the whole thing.

Maybe you’re anxious about your future because your worries and fears are interfering with your interpersonal relationships and your ability to manage the difficult stories you’re hearing from your own clients.

Or maybe you’re the one who’s always there for everyone around you because you never want to disappoint anyone. Yet your own self-care is often last on the to-do list, if it’s even on the list at all. Perhaps you haven’t been sleeping well, and you can’t relax because your mind is always racing. You’re constantly thinking about all the things you need to do and everything you could have done better – for your family, your clients, and maybe for yourself.

Perhaps you’re tired and just want to be by yourself, but right now you honestly don’t even know who you truly are.

it’s important to take a moment to think about you – what you need to feel supported, energized, and ready to learn how to quiet your own inner critic.

Now more than ever, it’s important to take a moment to think about you – what you need to feel supported, energized, and ready to learn how to quiet your own inner critic.

Here are a few tips for mitigating compassion fatigue and burnout that I’ve learned from years in the helping field:

  • Break tasks down into simple, bite-sized pieces.
  • Find a colleague you can support and who can support you in a relatable manner.
  • Take a few minutes each day to sift through the jumble of racing thoughts and drill down to the core of the challenges you are having. You already have these skills and use them everyday with your clients
  • Uncover the fears that lie beneath your worries.
  • While you take care of everyone around you, you often have to set boundaries to protect yourself. Share how you are feeling with those you love and care about – they are there to support you.

Uncovering the root of the feeling and challenges will help you revive yourself. You deserve to be happy, confident, and connected with yourself again. You’ve Got This!


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Author

Shelly Qualtieri

MA, RSW – Trainer, Crisis & Trauma Resource Institute

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