Do you see the symptoms?
Do you see them in yourself or others?
Compassion fatigue at times is very obvious. However, in more cases then not it sneaks up one symptom at a time until it has taken over. Recognizing the symptoms is key to understanding others and healing for yourself.
- Excessive blaming
- Bottled up emotions
- Isolation from others
- Receives unusual amount of complaints from others
- Voices excessive complaints about administrative functions
- Substance abuse used to mask feelings
- Compulsive behaviors such as overspending, overeating, gambling, sexual addictions
- Poor self-care (i.e., hygiene, appearance)
- Legal problems, indebtedness
- Re-occurrence of nightmares and flashbacks to traumatic event
- Chronic physical ailments such as gastrointestinal problems and recurrent colds
- Apathy, sad, no longer finds activities pleasurable
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mentally and physically tired
- In denial about problems
When Compassion Fatigue hits critical mass in the workplace, the organization itself suffers. Chronic absenteeism, spiraling Worker’s Comp costs, high turnover rates, friction between employees, and friction between staff and management are among organizational symptoms that surface, creating additional stress on workers.
Healing an organization takes time, patience, and most important, commitment. An awareness of Compassion Fatigue and its far reaching effects must be present at the highest level of management and work its way down to encompass line staff, as well as volunteers. Often, the mistrust that employees feel towards management is not unfounded. Since many care giving institutions are non-profit, they inherit additional challenges such as low wages, lack of space, high management turnover rate, and constantly shifting priorities.
Organizational symptoms of Compassion Fatigue inlcude:
- High absenteeism
- Constant changes in co-workers relationships
- Inability for teams to work well together
- Desire among staff members to break company rules
- Outbreaks of aggressive behaviors among staff
- Inability of staff to complete assignments and tasks
- Inability of staff to respect and meet deadlines
- Lack of flexibility among staff members
- Negativism towards management
- Strong reluctance toward change
- Inability of staff to believe improvement is possible
- Lack of a vision for the future