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Nurses: Be Aware of Compassion Fatigue

What is compassion fatigue,do you know that it was first diagnosed in nurses in the 1950’s?

Compassion fatigue, which is also known as secondary traumatic stress (STS), is a condition characterized by a gradual lessening of compassion over time. It is common among those who professionals who work directly with trauma victims such as medical providers (nurses,health unit coordinators,psychologists,emergency medical support,paramedics),therapists,teachers, police officers, firefighters, animal welfare workers, and those who help out others, such as family members, relatives, and other informal caregivers of patients suffering from a chronic illness.

People diagnosed with Compassion Fatigue can exhibit several symptoms such as hopelessness, which is a decrease in experiences of pleasure, constant stress and anxiety, sleeplessness or nightmares, and a pervasive negative attitude. This can have detrimental effects on individuals, both professionally and personally, including a decrease in productivity, the inability to focus, and the development of new feelings of incompetency and self-doubt.

We all know that as healthcare providers, nurses need to have good communication skills, problem-solving skills, physical endurance, flexibility, responsibility and caring.

Great nurses need to have empathy for all the sufferings, emotional stress and distress, and pain of the patients. Patients look to nurses as emotional support and advocates as well. To be a caring and effective nurse is caring, understanding, nonjudgmental and has a strong ability to empathize with patients from all walks of life. Nurses deal with the sick and injured as well as their families on a daily basis. As such, nurses need to be able to show that they truly care about their situation and being sympathetic and empathetic to patients.An empathetic nurse is sometimes what all patients have to look forward to in healthcare facilities. Nurses need to provide comfort and empathize with their patients and for those great nurses, compassion fatigue might also happen.

So how would you know if you are suffering from it, losing metal energy and getting burned out?

You would know and feel it when mistakes from work go up while performance goes down. One could also have trouble sleeping, or couldn’t stop thinking job and problems at work or patients. One has a general feeling of weariness, less in work satisfaction, efficiency, and energy.

TIPS To Cope with Stress 

So, how can we be great nurses, providing utmost compassion or caring, our most precious asset and a fundamental element of nursing care and as one of the strengths of the profession, without suffering from compassion fatigue?

One must be self-aware if they are suffering from it and start strategies to avoid stress at work. Some tips and strategies to cope and manage stress at work include:

#1 Establishing boundaries

This only says that everyone has to switch off the work-mode once they are off work. Enjoy your time with family and friends when outside work.

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#2 Learn how to laugh and have a sense of humour

Do not take your job or life too seriously. As what Stephen Hawkins once said, “Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny!” So, be funny and have a sense of humour.

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#3 Learn to Relax and take time to recharge

This is why we have annual leaves and breaks at work. Do not miss them. Having a long or even shirt holidays and vacations make a big difference in one’s life which will contribute to your productivity at work.

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#4 Healthy Lifestyle

Nurses are very busy and work in shifting schedules but being eating healthy and exercise make wonders in one’s overall life, mind and nutrition.

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#5 Get some support

If you are really feeling down, get some help. If you need emotional,psychological or physical support, go for help. Every one has a moments of ups and downs. Do not hesitate to ask for help and support if you feel like being down.

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#6 To sum it up..

These strategies are some of the helpful tips to manage stress and avoid compassion fatigue at work. Nurses are one of the noblest professions and we couldn’t afford to lose their compassion and passion to patient care.

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