How Nurses Can Recognize and Prevent Compassion Fatigue

What is Compassion Fatigue?

Compassion fatigue is the feeling of physical and emotional exhaustion causing an indifference towards caregiving. This phenomenon is widespread among nursing professionals, as the rigors of the job require long hours, have high rates of burnout, and are by nature emotionally taxing.

Why do nurses experience compassion fatigue?

Nursing professionals are accustomed to putting the needs of patients above their own, and it can become increasingly difficult for staff to compartmentalize emotions and have the best possible experience alongside patients.

Compassion fatigue does not mean an inability to empathize on the part of nurses, but rather is a byproduct of nursing professionals dealing with illness and death daily, and experiencing the full scope of these negative emotions can become increasingly difficult or unwelcome.

Here are some tips on managing compassion fatigue and working towards better experiences for yourself and your patients.

Maintaining a Work/Life Balance

Separating work from home is a great way to reduce stress. When you get home, make sure to change out of your scrubs, and practice some form of self-care. For many, meditation, deep breathing, or going for a walk can help nurses refocus away from their work stress. There are many tactics nurses can use to maintain a better work/life balance, whether it’s discovering a new hobby, or spending more time with family and friends. Self-scheduling can be a way to maintain a more liveable work-life balance, as you can take time off when needed and work when you choose and feel the best fit to do so.

Find a Trusted Outlet

If you feel especially fatigued, exhausted, or need a release, journaling can be a great way to sort your feelings out. As a nurse, you have great organizational skills. Use those to your advantage, organize your life and emotions in and out of work. Writing down your feelings is a great, healthy, and sustainable way to sort your thoughts and emotions out, especially if you tend to bottle them up. But you don’t have to do it all on your own – there are many options available if you feel like you need outside support. Talk to a friend, colleague, or therapist to ease negative feelings.

 Know That You are Not Alone

Experiencing compassion fatigue or emotional exhaustion does not make you a bad nursing professional or an apathetic person but rather shows how much you care for your patients and passionately do your job.

Working to create a more fulfilling nursing career and ensuring a balance between your personal and professional lives does not come without challenges. Learning how to set boundaries, prioritize yourself and your needs, and maintaining a supportive network is a great start to deal with the less rewarding aspects of a healthcare career.

At IntelyCare, we’re empowering healthcare heroes like you to transform the way you work. As an IntelyPro, you can take control of your schedule, and finally achieve the work/life balance you need and deserve. Want to join the future of nursing? Join the IntelyCare team today. 



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If you are a nurse or nursing assistant looking to join our network of nursing professionals, please visit our IntelyPro Application.

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