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How to Avoid ?Compassion Fatigue? During the Holidays

How to Avoid Compassion Fatigue

Most of us experience the holidays as the season of giving. We not only give Christmas presents, we often give more of our time and money to people we love or who are in need. Not only does this benefit the recipients by making them feel loved and appreciated, it is beneficial for the giver as well. Studies have shown that givers tend to have less stress and live longer lives.

But what if you give too much, especially during the holidays? This is the time of year when everyone, it seems, is appealing to our charitable natures. Not that that?s a bad thing. But stretching yourself too thin can sometimes lead to ?compassion fatigue?. Today I?ll explain what compassion fatigue is and how you can avoid it this holiday season.

What is Compassion Fatigue?

Compassion fatigue is similar to burnout. Both can cause mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion, frustration, and eventual apathy toward appeals for compassion. But while burnout happens over time, compassion fatigue can happen quickly and unexpectedly. You may start out enthusiastic and full of zest toward your noble goal of helping others during the holiday season, but this can rapidly degenerate into isolation and indifference towards others. Yikes!

Tips for Avoiding Compassion Fatigue

Avoiding compassion fatigue is all about setting boundaries. Here are my tips for staying healthy during this season of giving.

1. Decide how much time and effort you want to put forth this season and stick to that limit. Set this limit before you say yes to any requests and don?t feel guilty if you have to turn something down. Simply remind yourself that you?re doing what?s best for your health.

2. Save time for yourself to re-energize and time for your family. This season is also about family! Be sure to do the fun things that only happen during this season (looking at Christmas lights, ice skating, drinking hot cocoa, etc.) as a way to relax and re-energize with the people you love most. You could even make one of your charitable activities a family one!

3. Budget money for charities and remain true to that. Money issues can cause a lot of stress, so don’t leave yourself strapped by giving too much.

Avoiding Compassion Fatigue after the Holidays

Compassion fatigue is something that can creep into all seasons of the year. We tend to give, give, give without thinking of the state of our mental and physical well-beings. This is why it?s so important to be aware of compassion fatigue and to know when to take a step back.

For example, massage therapists tend to be giving, nurturing people. We are attracted to the profession because we want to help people improve their health and live fuller lives. While in training for massage therapy, we are warned to create healthy boundaries to protect ourselves from burnout and/or compassion fatigue. It can be difficult to turn someone away who is hurting and in need of relief, but in order to have a long career, we have to put our health first. Knowing our limits – both physically and emotionally – helps us avoid injury and burnout. The same goes for you!

This is why I always stress the importance of relaxation to my clients. It?s not so I can simply schedule another session?it?s because I?ve watched countless peoples? lives improve once they take the time to care for themselves. Massage therapy is just ONE way to do this. So when you find yourself feeling burnt out, it might be time to take a good, hard look at how well you’ve been taking care of yourself. In the long run, this will allow you to continue giving to your fullest potential while being in the healthiest state of mind possible.


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Suzanne Schaper is a Board Certified Massage Therapist serving Lenexa and Overland Park, KS. She loves sharing her knowledge for health and wellness with her customers. "A life free of pain and disease is a more full life." Suzanne enjoys assisting her customers in their pursuit of health and happiness.

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