Tips for Defence Team Members to Help Prevent and Manage Compassion Fatigue

June 12, 2020 - Defence Stories

“Are you anxious for all the wrong reasons?”
“Are you feeling overwhelmed?”
“Do you burst into tears for no reasons?”
“Are you feeling isolated?”
“Are you feeling less empathic?”

You may be suffering from compassion fatigue.

Dr. Charles Figley discovered compassion fatigue in 1992 and describes it as the “emotional and physical exhaustion created by caring for others in distress that can affect helping professionals and caregivers over time.” In other words, “the cost of caring for others’ emotional pain.”

We are living in unprecedented times, which is causing disruptions to our daily lives. As a result, we are all potentially vulnerable to compassion fatigue. Over the past several weeks, the daily exposure of watching and listening to news about COVID-19 may have impacted your emotional well-being.

The news reports on long-term care facilities, families losing loved ones, sickness, people losing their jobs or businesses, and fatal accidents have been distressing. There has been no lack of newsworthy international events, several of which have hit very close to home for the Defence Team (DT).

You may notice that constant exposure to emotion-provoking news may be affecting you. Beyond the media exposure, we may also be supporting people in our own lives who are struggling, whether it be a loved one or a colleague. The call to be constantly caring and empathetic to the situations at hand can be more than overwhelming and exhausting.

A lot of people suffer in silence from compassion fatigue. The following tips can help you prevent and manage compassion fatigue if it arises:

Tip 1: It all starts with self-awareness.

Tip 2: Check out the National Defence Mental Health and Wellness page for resources.

Tip 3: Check out LifeSpeak, a digital wellness platform tool available to both military and civilian members of the DT designed to help strengthen your mental health.

Tip 4: Talk with a mental health professional if you are struggling. You can reach out by calling the Employee Assistance Line at 1-800-268-7708 (24/7/365) | 1-800-567-5803 (TTY - for people with a hearing impairment). Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members and their families can call the Canadian Forces Member Assistance Program at 1-800-268-7708 | 1-800-567-5803 (TTY).

Tip 5: Limit the amount of news you are exposing yourself to and get your news from trustworthy sources such as the Government of Canada or Department of National Defence.

Tip 6: Stay socially connected to family, friends and colleagues.

Tip 7: Build your resilience.

Tip 8: Maintain your self-care by practicing self-compassion, gratitude, mindfulness. Watch a webinar on mindfulness.

Tip 9: Limit the amount of time you spend on social media.

And above all, don’t forget that you are not alone!

Page details

Date modified: