I found that my wounds begin to heal when the voices of those endangered by silence are given power. The silence of hopelessness, of despair buried in the depths of poverty, violence, racism are more deadly than bullets. The gift of light, in our compassion, our listening, our works of love is the gift of life to ourselves. — Janice Mirikitani, poet and activist
Compassion. Compassion for all individuals and the environment–that is, in part, why CCC exists. And CCC members show that compassion in a variety of ways, advocating for our community to be a place that is loving, accepting, and respectful of all persons and for better sustainability of the earth. This advocacy can be incredibly rewarding, but we also need to recognize it hard work and can take a toll physically, emotionally, and spiritually. To have longevity as being an advocate, it’s important to implement regular self-care practices to replenish yourself, and in talking to some members, I think it’s time to provide some tips for growing our self-care practices, so we can rejuvenate ourselves to better be there to support others and live our values.
According to Dr. Charles Figley, “Compassion fatigue is a state experienced by those helping people or animals in distress; it is an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it can create a secondary traumatic stress for the helper.” Compassion fatigue can result in blaming others more; bottling up emotions; isolating from others; complaining more frequently and/or having others complain about you more frequently; engaging in compulsive behaviors, such as increasing substance use, overspending, overeating, gambling, and having more or high-risk sex; not taking care of yourself in terms of hygiene and appearance; having problems sleeping or nightmares; getting sick more often and not feeling well; feeling apathetic or sad; having a lack of interest or pleasure in preferred activities; feeling tired; having problems concentrating; and being preoccupied. Many individuals are also in denial about their problems. To determine your present level of compassion satisfaction and compassion fatigue, take the Professional Quality of Life Test.
Address your compassion fatigue and develop practices to help prevent future occurrences.
Self-care is a practice. Increasing your self-care and setting better boundaries can help you address compassion fatigue when you experience it. Continuing to recurrently engage in pleasurable activities that help you nurture your mind, body, and spirit can help reduce your risk of compassion fatigue. Here are some tips adapted from Tiny Buddha to help.
- Start a compliments file of the great things people say about you to read later.
- Accomplish something on your to-do list.
- Lie on your back, relax, and watch the sky.
- Make a small change in your routine.
- Practice mindfulness. Try engaging all the senses while brushing your teeth, driving, eating, or performing your morning routine.
- Take a 5-minute break to play.
- Start a new healthy habit.
- Do 3 one-minute meditations during your day: (1) becoming aware of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations; (2) focusing your attention on breathing; and (3) being aware of the body as a whole.
- Prioritize yourself by doing one thing because it makes you happy.
- Clean or de-clutter. If there are things you no longer want, consider donating the items to a local organization, which could still help you feel like you’re giving back while helping yourself.
- Unplug for an hour.
- Try something new.
- Scan your body for areas of tension and release it. The body scan technique is one way to do this.
- Take 3 deep breaths.
- Go for a walk or run.
- Do yoga or tai chi.
- Plan one healthy meal to have at least once a week.
- Give yourself a massage.
- Use a nice smelling and feeling lotion.
- Tend to your sexual wellness–do kegels, masturbate, or have sex if you have a partner(s).
- Add an extra serving of fruits or vegetables to your day.
- Drink a glass of water to stay hydrated.
- Wear something that makes you feel good.
- Sit quietly in nature for a few minutes.
- Get some vitamin D by spending fifteen minutes in the sun, and if you want to spend more time outdoors, apply sunscreen.
- Smell something you like–a favorite candle, incense, flowers, essential oils.
- Talk to yourself how you would a friend.
- Use your commute for a “Beauty Scavenger Hunt.” Find five unexpected beautiful things on your way to work.
- Do a small random act of kindness for someone.
- Sit quietly and identify what you’re feeling without judging it.
- Practice gratitude.
- Spend time with people who lift you up.
- Play with a pet.
- Get positive feedback. Ask three good friends to tell you what they love about you.
- Show kindness to a stranger.
- Splurge a little. Buy a small luxury as a way of valuing yourself.
- Have a self-date. Spend an hour alone doing something that nourishes you.
- Identify your strengths and use one of them today.
- Ask for help from someone.
- Make time for a getaway.
- Pamper yourself with an at-home spa day. Now through August 5, 2018, you can support CCC with your at-home spa day by buying your bath and body products through the Golden Green Soap Company. They’re donating 10% of all their sales to CCC.