Self-Care and Cultivating Resilience Spiritual Care Partners
“The expectation that we can be immersed in suffering and loss daily and not be touched by it is as unrealistic as expecting to be able to walk through water without getting wet.” — Rachel Naomi Remen
Discussion 1. What are your expectations in terms of how this work will impact you? 2. What are some risks associated with being a caregiver?
Risks • Boundary issues: • Temptation to do too much, move out of your lane instead of making referral • Wanting to follow up with same patients to satisfy your own needs (for example, to socialize or to avoid seeing new patients b/c that makes you anxious) • Tendency to want to “fix”
Risks: General Emotional Strain • Facing situations that are overwhelming (terminal diagnosis situations, for example) • Seeing patients who remind you of a loved one
Risks: Physical Strain • Lots of walking • Feel free to take breaks. • No pressure to finish your lists. Please don’t feel guilty for not seeing all the patients on your list. Quality is more important than quantity. • Several intense conversations in a row can be taxing. Pace yourself.
Compassion Fatigue • The “combination of physical, emotional, and spiritual depletion associated with caring for patients in significant emotional pain and physical distress.” • “A unique form of burnout that affects individuals in caregiving roles.” — Lombardo and Eyre, 2011
Symptoms of Compassion Fatigue • Physical and emotional exhaustion • Lack of empathy/sense of disinterest • Cynicism • Loss of enjoyment of the work • Going through the motions • Not being moved by the experience • Can turn into depression and other conditions
Risk of Compassion Fatigue Risk of Compassion Fatigue:doing others spiritual harm due to our lack of spiritual awareness. “The most insidious aspect of compassion fatigue is that it attacks the very core of what brought us into this work: our empathy and compassion for others.” — Françoise Mathieu
Compassion Fatigue Toolkit • Stress reduction techniques: • What can I cut out of my life to reduce stress? • Stress resilience techniques: • Relaxation methods (meditation, massage, yoga, etc.) • Stress Prevention: How can we stay ahead of the stress before it gains momentum? • What would go in your toolkit? • Hobbies, exercise, “me time,” adequate sleep, healthy eating, etc.
Rumors About Self Care • Selfish; self-indulgent • Takes too much time • Checking out works better than self nourishment. • Can only practice it when alone • Others are more important than me. — Jackie Sapp, former Bon Secours EAP counselor
Toolkit Attend to mental wellness: • Be aware of self-talk, emotions, ruminations, fears. • Talk it out, journal, know your limits, center yourself. — Jackie Sapp
Reaching Out for Support • Very important to talk about your stress with a trusted person • Availability of chaplains for sharing, processing, and prayer. Monthly supervision, but also available any time you need it.
Spiritual Renewal • Staying close to God is an essential component of self-care. • How do you stay close to God? • Scripture, church, prayer, meditation, exercise, time in nature?
Activity • What tools would be in your self-care toolkit? • Stress prevention • How do you stay ahead of stress? • Stress reduction • What can you cut out of your life to reduce stress? • Stress resilience techniques: • Proper nutrition • Exercise • Adequate sleep • Relaxation techniques (meditation, massage, yoga, etc.) • Personal hobbies
Sources Lombardo, B., and C. Eyre, (2011). Compassion Fatigue: A Nurse’s Primer.OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 16(1), Manuscript 3. Mathieu, Françoise, M.Ed., CCC, (2007).Running on Empty: Compassion Fatigue in Health Professionals. (published in Rehab & Community Care Medicine). Sapp, Jackie, LCSW, CEAP, SPHR (former Bon Secours EAP counselor)