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Managing Compassion Fatigue: The Unique Anxiety of Helping Others

Managing Compassion Fatigue The Unique Anxiety Of Helping Others

Anxiety can be a debilitating and overwhelming experience that can make it difficult to function in everyday life. But what happens when we're not the ones feeling anxious? What about when we are faced with someone else's anxiety, and it begins to affect us on a personal level?

As someone who is hardly ever anxious, I can confidently say that I am generally able to remain calm in difficult situations. However, I have come to realise that a particular type of anxiety builds in me when I am faced with people who are anxious, especially over a problem that is solvable.

This experience often causes a personal conflict within me, as I am passionate about helping others, yet the anxiety of someone else is affecting me on a personal level.

This type of anxiety is known as “compassion fatigue,” also referred to as the “cost of caring.” Compassion fatigue is the physical, emotional, and psychological exhaustion that comes with caring for and helping others who are suffering. This experience can lead to feelings of burnout, hopelessness, and resentment1.

While compassion fatigue is commonly experienced by those in helping professions, such as nurses and therapists, anyone who regularly helps and cares for others can be affected.

At first, I couldn’t relate to why one could feel this way. I would think something is actually wrong with me for not being able to “fix” the problem. However, I have since learned that it's essential to acknowledge our limitations and recognise when we need to recharge and take care of our own selves.

In order to manage compassion fatigue, it's important to maintain a balance between helping others and taking care of ourselves. This can be done by practising self-care regularly, setting boundaries1, establishing a support system, and seeking help when needed.

We need to recognise that it's okay to feel overwhelmed and burnt out, and that taking time for ourselves is not selfish but rather necessary for our own well-being.

Compassion fatigue is a real experience that affects many people who care for and help others. It can cause personal conflicts and turmoil, but with proper management and self-care, it is possible to balance our compassionate nature with our own well-being. Let's embrace the power of self-care and compassion and learn to manage the cost of caring.


1. Compassion fatigue involves emotional and physical exhaustion that can affect people who have been exposed to other people's traumas or stressors.

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1 Comment

  1. Billion Shades Girl

    First time learning about this term.


    But I learnt it in practical experience though, when I experienced a burnout for always playing the bigger person.
    Omo, I learned the need and still practicing setting boundaries and knowing my limitations over problems no matter how much I care.

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