Caring for patients is somehow involving and it can be very tiring. One has to take extra care to protect him/her from exhaustion and especially due to lifting things and overworking. A man is a living being and has to rest every now and then both physically and emotionally. People can revive themselves from time to time to get rid of burnout and disorientation. In order to care for the patients more effectively, one has to care for him/herself, and not allow him/herself to get too exhausted. It is normal to feel exhausted and have burnout sometimes but feeling so all the time must be avoided because it is counter productive.
In order to take care of this problem, the first step is to identify it. Compassion fatigue can be caused by traumatic experiences in the line of work or too much work and too little rest. Physical and emotional exhaustion can make work impossible and leave one feeling hopeless and confused (Mathieu, 2012). This is why this phenomenon should be avoided at all costs by maintaining a healthy schedule and taking time to rest when one is not feeling well. Traumatic stress is most felt by caregivers because they meet more than one patient per day and they have to empathize with their patients all the time. It is normal to feel worn out and exhausted because of this and one can only hope to cope with the situation and get the best out of it by finding ways to combat burnout.
Traumatic stress can be caused by a number factors and the leading one is losing patients that one has grown emotionally attached to. The next step towards healing and protecting oneself is maintaining a professional distance and making sure that health care provider understands that some situations are out of their hands.
The only way caregiver can be effective in caring for others is by first caring for self. This is because one can only give what he/she has inside. Unhealthy diet habits, skipping meals, working long hours and other similar practices will leave health care provider exhausted and in no position to care for anybody else (Chapman, 2007).
Apart from feeling physically exhausted and drained, other situations that should not be allowed in care providing appear. Such situations cause the caregiver to be spiritually drained and emotionally torn. As far as health care provider has these feelings, he/she should go and resolve them before going back to work because such caregiver will be of little or no help to the patients. One should take care of all aspects of health to be an all round person that other people can lean on. Remember that dealing with patients is supposed to encourage them and give hope, and so health care provider must not look hopeless him/herself.
Signs of compassion fatigue include:
- Sensing that you are indispensable in any number of patients’ lives and that if you abandon them even for a day they will not survive.
- Lack of sleep and being unable to rest away from the hospital premises.
- Unhealthy eating habits and skipping meals.
- Developing resentful feelings towards patients and those people whom you are supposed to help.
There are a number of ways that one can save their lives and get rid of compassion fatigue. These are such as following:
Health care providers needs to take stock of their feelings and know when it is time to give themselves a break. Feelings of shame and self-blame do not help them but continue putting them down. It is all right to feel responsible for one’s patients but there are some situations that are beyond anyone’s powers and these include life and death. One should not be too hard on him/herself because of certain actions perceived as failure. This will make the person to be unable to care for the patients who really need care. When caregivers feel too overwhelmed by these negative feelings, the best thing to do is to take time off and take care of themselves in all the ways they can (Germer, 2009).
When it comes down to making the right decision, health care providers can only make it for themselves. It is essential for one to check his/her decisions before they go too far. Getting too emotionally involved in a patient’s life will not only bring health care provider more pain and frustration but it will leave the person emotionally exhausted. The patients are still human beings who are responsible for their own choices in life, which caregiver cannot help them make. Excessive attachment can occur to anyone and one must strive to sever those ties before they get too complicated. The heartbreak that results in losing a life is too great and health care provider cannot afford to feel so every time he/she loses a patient. The choice to be a happy caregiver who gives hope and life instead of taking it away remains in his/her hands (Gerner, 2009).
There are many other feelings associated with compassion fatigue. Some of these feelings are negative, they can leave health care providers hating themselves, and blaming themselves for situations they could not control. Feeling that they should get some kind of recognition for what they do is another sign of compassion fatigue. It breeds bad inner feelings that do not go away and can lead to rioting and bad work behavior. Health care providers should take care not to sacrifice more than they are willing to for work because they are bound to regret later. Putting ones life first is crucial in the process of eliminating compassion fatigue.
The caregiver has needs that range from physical, emotional and even spiritual. All these needs should be well catered for in order for them to be in a position to care for others. This is how caregivers should care for themselves:
Maintaining a healthy diet is one of the major points. This is because nursing needs a lot of energy and one cannot afford to miss meals. Health care provider should ensure having at least three balanced meals per day and a lot of snacking during the day in the cafeteria. This will ensure the caregiver has not hit an energy slump by mid morning. They should eat enough protein and carbohydrates for the body to be able to take the strain of walking around and lifting weighty things all through the day.
Getting enough sleep is another aspect of physical health. Caregiver needs enough rest in order to be productive. When the caregiver is on night shift, he/she should make sure to take some time during the day to sleep well and eat well. He/she should make a point of avoiding people who are on day shift as they may force the caregiver to stay awake when he/she is supposed to be resting.
Sometimes health care providers can get overwhelmed emotionally. The best thing to do is to take time off and take care of oneself. Counseling may be necessary to get rid of negative feelings and to be able to express them to someone else who understands. They should keep a professional distance in their relationships with patients to stop from being hurt (Gerner, 2009).
In order for the caregivers to give hope to others, they should have that hope within themselves. A good spiritual life is what leads one to having hope and showing it to others. Life overwhelms people who do not have any kind of spirituality quickly because they have nowhere to run to. Spiritual health is essential for both emotional health and being able to share faith with others. The soul will from time to time require nourishment and so health care provider should take time to be alone with God and to be able to heal (Reese, 2008).