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Compassion Fatigue

I noticed that it is rare for me to have the T.V. on any other channel outside of the Food Network or Animal Planet these days. I used to be an avid nightly news viewer (one more notch in the old soul belt, I know) along with at least thirty minutes of CNN during some part of my day. I now fill it with images of small fuzzy animals or the beautiful sights of holiday food. Spend five minutes on CNN or any other news channel and I think we can all understand why warm baked cookies seems like a better option.

So let’s talk about why that is and what it’s called. According to Dr. Charles Figley, one of the leading researchers and educators in trauma “ ‘Compassion fatigue’ is a state experienced by those helping people or animals in distress; it is an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it can create a secondary traumatic stress for the helper.” In the helping profession compassion fatigue is in the foreground of people’s minds and something supervisors watch for in their employees.

So what does this mean for those not in a helping profession? Well per my subconscious avoidance of CNN I would say a lot. I think we are in a time where it now applies to all human beings as we are all seeing people in distress on a daily basis. We are living in a constant state of tension and can’t help per the 24 hour news cycle to be inundated to a point of preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped. Hurricane Harvey, Irma, the fires in California, Charlottesville, the healthcare debate and most recently the Texas church massacre are all examples.  And yes, this was just the past few months! Are we all walking around with compassion fatigue?

Subconsciously I have been taking care of my own compassion fatigue through baby kitties and Andrew Zimmer….I think it is about time that I and the rest of American pull this back to the forefront of our minds, be conscious and have a plan to take care of ourselves. When in doubt, I highly recommend Pete Nelson and Treehouse Masters!

Care for yourself. Care for others. Care for yourself again.

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