During this time when the world is just surrounded by news related to COVID -19. As a psychologist suddenly there is a topic that strikes my mind when we talk about health care professionals involved in helping the COVID-19 affected patients.
Health of Human Gods
What about the health (including both physical and mental health) of these human gods who are working day and night to protect us, as somehow they are also humans, who get tired physically, mentally, emotionally. We just hit the like button when we see their pictures lying on the floors of the hospital after attending long shifts but none of us thinks the long term impact these shifts will cause on them. Rather we are increasing their burden by not following government rules such as Social Distancing.
World Health Day, 2020
On this World Health Day, American Psychiatric Association recently reported, “COVID-19 will unleash an unprecedented level of psychological trauma on both health care professionals and patients. For instance a recent study showed front line health care workers reported symptoms of depression (50.4%), anxiety (44.6%), insomnia (34.0%) and distress (71.5%)”
Cost of caring for others
Though working for people might seem socially rewarding to them but as a result of working long hours the health care professionals which include doctors, nurses and other medical staff might feel physically and emotionally drained as a ‘cost of caring for others’. This emotional and physical exhaustion as a result of caring for their patients/clients is called Compassion Fatigue.
What is Compassion Fatigue?
Compassion Fatigue is an occupational hazard, which means anyone who is in such a profession where they care too, much about their clients/patients can develop certain amount of it varying in degrees of severity. That is to say it is a kind of job burnout i.e. “a special kind of job stress which is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your own competence and value of work”- Mayo Clinic (2018).
According to Charles Figley (1944), “Compassion Fatigue is a state experienced by those helping people or animal in distress; it is an extreme state of tension or preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it can a create a secondary traumatic stress for the helper .”
Therefore the word Compassion Fatigue is often synonym with ‘Vicarious trauma’ and ‘secondary trauma’ to better explain the reactions of health care professionals/helpers to the trauma experienced by others.
Signs Of Compassion Fatigue
- Poor self care
- Feeling emotionally drained
- Decline in the feelings of sympathy or empathy
- Increased feelings of frustration or anger
- Reduced interest in your own career
- Increase in Absenteeism- taking sick leaves, skipping workplaces
- Bottled up emotions
- Apathy; Feeling sad all the time
- Sleep problems
- Weight loss
- Problems in personal relationships and intimacy
- Feelings of guilt
- Impaired decision making power
- Problem showing care to patients/clients.
Ways To Overcome
When you as a caregiver identify such symptoms in us, then its time to work on ourselves. Certainly we should immediately start following certain tips to increase our well being which are as follows:
- Resilience Building strategies
- Self care Tips
- Stress reducing strategies
Resilience Building strategies
A person is said to be resilient depending on how easily he bounce backs or get back to normal life from a difficult situation. Also a person can develop resiliency by small initiatives which includes developing a positive outlook, taking good care of oneself, looking for further opportunities to indulge in a process of self-discovery, nurture a positive view of yourself, take decisive actions, approach your goals, take action or develop social connections including many more.
Self care Tips
On the other hand indulging in self-care is an important aspect. Also self-care activity can be done by many ways for example when feeling drained ask for help be it home or work, balance your work life and home life, keeping a check on both the lives, learning to say no sometimes wherever possible, attend workshops which result in improvement of your professional training, exercise and taking out time for yourselves to indulge in your favorite hobbies.
Involving in stress-reducing strategies can be a very personal process meaning the activities or strategies which can be helpful to you might not work great for your neighbors and vice- versa. For example, identify what are the things that cut back your stress levels, it might include cutting back to things in our lives that might be stressful, watching a Netflix series, going for a massage or spending time alone. Likewise other strategies might include taking a hot water bath, cutting jobs to part-time, sleeping well, cooking, washing clothes, exercise, meditation, yoga or breathing exercises or even might talking to your loved ones.
What if these strategies don’t work well on you??
In that case when even these strategies have stopped working on you, I would suggest contact a mental health counselor or psychologist, they will surely help you because compassion fatigue can cause serious problems including depression, anxiety, stress even suicidal thoughts in some serious cases. There are certain treatment modalities available for people with sever job burnout or compassion Fatigue.
Moreover, in view of the CORONA Virus outbreak, Indian Association of Clinical Psychologists (IACP) extends the support. The form of providing FREE Psychological Counseling and Psychological First Aid to the needy throughout the country. To facilitate this, a list of volunteers is provided in public domain to utilize the services. This is a support group formed willingly by professionals to be part of this group.
Link Available- https://iacp.in/
REQUEST TO ALL
Therefore, even if you are not one of them, but recognizes someone around you who is facing similar problems. In concluding I would like to say is BE KIND AND SUPPORTIVE TO THEM. They might be going through something very difficult in life.
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