The Caregiver’s Guide to Overcome Compassion Fatigue
By Veronica Hislop
Whether you are a mother, daughter, grandmother, wife, or girlfriend… Whether you are old, young, middle aged, married, single, widowed or divorced… Chances are if you are a woman, you will be called upon at some point in your life to become a caregiver and nurture another human being.
Many women who work in the workforce nurture in that realm too. They are the nurses, teachers, social workers and personal support workers. According to Statistics Canada (2014) 82% of employed women work in the Health Care & Social Service industry – that number is 75% in the US according to Department of Professional Employees Coalition of National Unions.
The number one disease affecting women today is Compassion Fatigue – burnout and it correlates to the nurturing care giving role.
Here are some simple ground rules for you to follow in order not to burn out and succumb to Compassion Fatigue:
a) Learn proper breathing
b) Prioritize your needs
c) Develop your support systems
a) Learn Proper Breathing
The importance of learning to slow down your breathing and practice meditation/relaxation is well documented.
Slowing down your breath and shifting to belly breathing allows you to quiet the Amygdala (the stress centre of the brain). In doing this you are able to lessen the sense of overwhelm that you might be feeling, which in turns allows you to gain some perspective regarding your situation or circumstance. You cannot feel stressed if you are breathing deeply and slowly.
Breathing deeply and slowly allows you to connect to your inner self; the wiser healthier part of you that is in tune with what is important to you and your own life. It allows you to gain clarity. This does not take away from the people who are dependent on you; in actual fact it adds to the betterment of their lives, as you are now in a place to acknowledge that you exist too. Twenty minutes a day of slow/deep breathing is all that is needed.
“It is only when you “quiet” the brain that you can hear and see the opportunities available to you.”
b) Prioritize Your Needs
Many women become totally immersed in the care giving role and continuously putting the needs of those who depend on them first, that their needs (if addressed) go to the bottom of the list. This can result in a depletion of their own personal resources.
Prioritizing your own self care is not only necessary – it is wise. Without doing so, energies become exhausted thereby creating a space for anger and resentment to creep into the care giving relationship.
Some women may feel that prioritizing their own self care is selfish, but a simple reframe of the word selfish to the phrase self interest is, is what is needed. If caregivers are not interested in themselves and their own self care then how can they take good care of those that depend on them?
“Taking care of ourselves means that the people in our lives get the best of us and not what is left us.”
c) Support Systems
Caregivers are often hardworking, competent and strong women who continuously do for others that they not only forget that they may need help and support, they are reluctant to ask for it. They don’t want to look silly, or seem weak, vulnerable incompetent, they don’t know how to ask for help and thus keep going it alone.
Taking on a broader view of support may make it easier for women to embrace this concept. Support doesn’t’ just have to be provided in the form of people, it can also be resources, activities or experiences – essentially anything that grounds and relaxes us. Any action that creates space, replenishes, inspires, motivates, validates and can provide comfort and peace of mind can become a part of one’s support system.
In this regard, spending time petting your dog on a regular basis (if it is enjoyable) can be classified as an activity that is part of a person’s support systems.
“Smart women know when and how they need help and they are brave enough to ask for help when needed.”
Mastering your mind through breath, developing healthy self care actions and forming support systems will enhance mental health and overall wellbeing. This not only highlights your responsibility as a caregiver to yourself, it is the ultimate gift that you can give to the people in your life that you care for.
Veronica Hislop Author, Presenter is the founder of Em-Powered-Solutions, Life Relationship Coaching. She works with stressed caregivers who want to have better inter-personal relationships with the people in their lives.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Veronica_Hislop/2236444
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