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4 Ways to Combat Compassion Fatigue in Nursing

Nurses are natural caregivers and nurturers. However, the demands of helping patients through their suffering, often referred to as the “cost of caring,” can lead to compassion fatigue. 

What is compassion fatigue in nursing? Compassion fatigue is when you develop an inability to empathetically connect with your patients. This happens due to repeated exposure to tragedy, emotional pain, and physical distress.

Experiencing constant exposure to trauma or difficult situations, and absorbing your patients’ pain, leaves you emotionally exhausted. This results in overall emotional withdrawal and depletion of compassionate energy.

Compassion fatigue is often compared to secondary traumatic stress. Essentially, you don’t physically experience the traumatic event, but you experience it emotionally while caring for your patients.

All nurses are at risk for compassion fatigue. It’s important to learn how to combat it in order to continue caring for yourself and your patients. 

How to Prevent and Overcome Compassion Fatigue in Nursing

Compassion fatigue in nursing is very treatable once you identify what’s contributing to it and what needs to change. Then, you can return to nursing with a healthy mindset and a restored enthusiasm for your career!

Here are four ways to prevent and overcome compassion fatigue in nursing.

Focus on Self-Care

Living a healthy lifestyle is crucial for preventing compassion fatigue. Sleeping well, eating nourishing foods, exercising, and relieving stress are so important. 

Self-care means finding time to reflect and make space to recover between shifts. Maybe it’s making free time to do hobbies you love or sitting down to journal your thoughts after each shift.

Taking care of yourself is putting yourself first. When you put yourself first you can take care of your patients best!

Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries can look like saying “no” to picking up extra work when it would physically and mentally cost you. It can also be advocating for your breaks during your shift, and avoiding bringing the emotional residue of work home with you.

Finding a work-life balance helps to keep nursing a part of your life rather than nursing consuming your entire life. Making a priority to take extended time away can make a difference in feeling refreshed to return to work!

Setting emotional boundaries is also important to refrain from becoming too invested. Self-awareness and continually checking in with yourself is key.

Develop a Support System

Informal support and professional support are both necessary depending on your circumstances. This could be debriefing with your coworkers or receiving guidance from a counselor.

Speaking about difficult experiences, being able to process feelings, and receiving validation from others who understand can definitely help. Sharing your struggles allows you to work through emotions and release feelings to cope and lessen the weight for you.

Try a New Nursing Position 

Sometimes changing your role, specialty, unit, or facility might be the answer. Nursing has many opportunities, therefore consider moving to a new position. This is especially helpful if your current nursing job is associated with a higher risk for compassion fatigue. 

When you’re satisfied in your nursing role, you’re less likely to become physically or emotionally depleted. 

Prevent Compassion Fatigue in Nursing with nurseIO

The freedom and flexibility nurses experience from per diem nursing is a game changer in preventing compassion fatigue.

nurseIO is an app based technology platform that connects nurses looking for flexible gig work to available per diem shifts at local facilities.

If you’re tired of your current demands as a nurse, use the nurseIO app to work flexible per diem shifts and become your own boss. Create your own schedule, and get paid within the same day!

Connect and sign up today!

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