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5 Self-Care Activities You Need to Employ If You Experience Compassion Fatigue

5 Self-Care Activities You Need to Employ If You Experience Compassion Fatigue

In the medical and legal field, client support is crucial – but it can come at a price. Listening to the struggles your clients have gone through can be taxing emotionally, especially if you feel pressure to help resolve their problems. Compassion fatigue is considered secondary traumatic stress, and comes with a state of stress and tension from helping others who have gone through traumatic events. Nurses, first responders, psychiatrists and more do their best to heal clients as they recover from traumatic experiences, where a lawyer or judge may want to seek justice for someone who has been wronged. No matter your position, this type of caring can be exhausting, and it’s crucial that you take steps to protect your own mental health and wellbeing as well.

While not a complete list, the American Institute of Stress (AIS) emphasizes the following as signs of compassion fatigue:

  • Nervous system arousal (such as having difficulty sleeping)
  • Feeling more emotional intensity
  • Isolation, loss of morale
  • Loss of self-worth
  • Anger towards perpetrators
  • Depression and PTSD

Self-care provides an opportunity to stay grounded and connected, with the potential of reducing compassion fatigue. Exposure to suffering can occur once only or can build up as a cumulative process, but the process of self-care should remain the same. Employ the following strategies to help build up your defense against being worn down by compassion fatigue:


  • Set emotional boundaries for yourself. Develop a contract with yourself for how emotional you will allow yourself to become in your line of work, and when you will distance yourself to protect yourself.
  • Engage in outside hobbies that really bring you joy. Outside hobbies help bring enrichment to daily life, which can help combat feelings of hopelessness that derive from compassion fatigue.
  • Cultivate healthy relationships. Not only will you have people whom you can lean on when you’re feeling stressed or depressed, but you will have people who can remind you of the wonderful work that you bring to this world.
  • Keep a journal to get your thoughts out. By getting all of your thoughts out, you may be able to release distressing emotions easier, therefore giving you better sleep and peace of mind.


  1. Utilize positive coping strategies. Meditation, yoga, going for walks and exercising, reading a good book, watching funny movies, spending time with your loved ones, and embracing your pets are all excellent ways to decompress and deal with stress in a healthy way.

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