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Avoiding burnout and compassion fatigue


There can be many situations where we find ourselves experiencing compassion fatigue. 

This can include working within health and social care; it can also include working within financial advice services, food banks, or caring for others where we are regularly exposed to the suffering of others. It matters that we look after ourselves so we can also be there for others.

The compassion paradox

What do we mean by compassion?

'' Compassion literally means "to suffer together." Among emotion researchers, it is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another's suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.''

The Greater Good Science Centre at the University of California, Berkeley

What do we mean by paradox?

'' statement that seems to go against common sense but may still be true'' Plato.

The platypus paradox

''The platypus is a biological paradox. According to our once hard-and-fast rules regarding animal classification, an animal could only belong to one category, such as a reptile OR a mammal. The platypus appears to be both at the same time.''

 The compassion paradox in health and social care

 ''Health care is inherently compassionate, and yet the very sense of connection with patients that can make us effective caregivers can lead to feelings of stress and burnout—which then undermines our ability to be compassionate.''

Leif Hass, M.D., is a family medicine doctor and hospitalist at Alta Bates Summit Medical Centre in Oakland. He serves as a Joy of Work Champion for Sutter Health and as a clinical instructor with UCSF.

The following tips with links to other resources are not intended to replace professional advice, they are for selfcare. Please take a moment to consider if these are helpful for you, as you matter too.

I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.

Audre Lorde
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