Navigate through compassion fatigue with these coping mechanisms

First responders compassion fatigue

Did you know compassion fatigue is real? Well, it is, and it negatively impacts millions of first responders every year. 

Although this detriment is not typically life-threatening, it can be quite debilitating, just like any other mental health implication. 

Constantly being inserted into the line of duty, you are prone to exhaust compassion every single shift from serving the public and constantly putting the distressful needs of others before yours. 

Over time compassion fatigue can take a toll on a first responder and lead to emotional exhaustion. The exhaustion experienced results from high emotional involvement, such as working with traumatized individuals in the community without the mental support they deserve. 

First responders must be able to identify the symptoms of compassion fatigue for themselves and their colleagues. Getting ahead of the symptoms and finding ways to cope with compassion fatigue early on will save an elevated amount of distress in the long run. 

Some emotional symptoms you may be experiencing from compassion fatigue include: 

  • Feeling helpless and/or overwhelmed
  • Angry, irritable, and elevated anxiety
  • A reduced amount of empathy
  • Feeling insensitive or hypersensitive
  • Decreased tolerance for stress

Understanding and having the ability to pinpoint when your compassion is burnt out is a vital step towards a more positive mental health and overall wellness for first responders.

There are many tactics and coping mechanisms that you can start implementing into your life today if you’d like to counteract compassion fatigue. Some of these wellness tactics include: 

  • Having a balanced diet
  • Garnering regular exercise 
  • Adequate amount of sleep and rest
  • Taking deserved time off (use that PTO)
  • Setting emotional boundaries
  • Practicing mindful meditation and deep breathing
  • Strengthening social support from loved ones, friends, and colleagues

“SAMSHA recommends focusing on “four core components of resilience: adequate sleep, good nutrition, regular physical activity, and active relaxation. Unfortunately, many first responders are unaware of this kind of resiliency training and attempt to deal with their PTSD and compassion fatigue with self-medicating substances, most often alcohol.”

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 

Strengthening our mental wellbeing is an ongoing initiative in life. Our team at First Responder Wellness will continue shedding light on and providing first responders in our network and beyond valuable tips to make progress towards greater mental health. 

At First Responder Wellness, we guide those ready to take the path to recovery and wellbeing. We offer various programs within a community of others who know what it is like to be in the front lines. For more information on how we can assist you, call (888) 743-0490.

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