We all know the feeling. It’s when we see another post on social media about another owner with another dog in need of training advice, and our out-of-character reaction is to scroll right past it, too exhausted to even start trying to help. We’ve all been there, especially lately. With the pandemic and subsequent lockdown, we are now constantly inundated with images and stories of people from all walks of life needing our help with something. And while most of us want to help, many of us are struggling with compassion fatigue.
In this week’s podcast and blog post, LWDG Society Member and Canine Psychologist Tracey Wysoska discusses her own experience with compassion fatigue and offers some tips on how to deal with it.
What is compassion fatigue and how does it relate to dog owners/trainers
Compassion fatigue is a condition that can affect anyone who is helpful, loving, caring, and supportive. It is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that can occur when someone is constantly exposed to difficult or upsetting situations.
Dog owners may be particularly susceptible to compassion fatigue because they are often surrounded by needy, dependent creatures who require a lot of care and attention, and dog trainers may suffer from it dealing with similar behaviour from handlers.
The signs and symptoms of compassion fatigue
The demands of dog ownership can be overwhelming, leaving owners feeling drained and worn out. However, there are ways to prevent and manage compassion fatigue.
Learning about the condition and being mindful of the signs can help dog owners to recognise when they are at risk of burnout.
Taking breaks, setting boundaries, and seeking support from knowledgeable and wise experts can also help to prevent compassion fatigue.
Symptoms of compassion fatigue can vary from person to person, but some common signs include feeling overwhelmed or hopeless, social withdrawal, difficulty concentrating, Changes in eating or sleeping patterns, and Physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to take a step back and focus on taking care of yourself. This can look different for everyone, but some helpful self-care tips include exercise, spending time with friends and family, journaling, and getting outside in nature.
It is also important to seek out professional help if you are struggling to cope with compassion fatigue on your own. A therapist can provide helpful resources and support so you can avoid burnout and continue doing the amazing work that you do.
How to deal with compassion fatigue
If you work in a helping profession, including being a dog owner, or a mother, a daughter, a wife, or a sister, it’s important to be aware of compassion fatigue. If you’re compassionate and helpful by nature, you may be more susceptible to compassion fatigue.
The good news is that there are steps you can take to prevent or deal with compassion fatigue. Here are some tips:
- Get plenty of rest and exercise: Taking care of your own physical health is crucial when working with others who are traumatized or ill. Make sure to get enough sleep and exercise to maintain your energy levels.
- Take breaks: It’s important to take breaks from your work on a regular basis. Step away from your desk for a few minutes each hour, and take a vacation from work every few months. This will help you to recharge physically and emotionally.
- Seek support: Dealing with compassion fatigue can be difficult, so it’s important to seek out supportive relationships. Talk to a friend or family member about what you’re going through, and consider talking to a therapist who can help you manage your feelings.
By following these tips, you can prevent or deal with compassion fatigue in a healthy way.
Resources for further information about compassion fatigue
If you are interested in learning more about compassion fatigue, there are a number of helpful resources available. The Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project is a great place to start.
They offer a wealth of information and support for people who are struggling with this issue. If you are looking for a more personal approach, consider reaching out to a therapist or counsellor who is knowledgeable about compassion fatigue. They can provide you with individualised support and guidance.
Finally, there are a number of helpful books available on the subject. A quick search online will yield a number of titles that can provide you with valuable insights and information. Whatever route you decide to take, know that there is help available if you are struggling with compassion fatigue.
CFAP Founder Patricia Smith’s TEDx Talk:
How to Manage Compassion Fatigue in Caregiving
Links Mentioned in Podcast
Society Membership – Become A Member
Articles on Compassion Fatigue
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