Compassion Fatigue Survival Strategies

November 19, 2021 2:11 PM | NENA Admin (Administrator)

By Hannah Schoenberg, NENA Director
Employment Network Coordinator | CPWIC

It has been a long two years and many of you may be feeling the effects of life and work in a pandemic. You may be finding yourself telling your friends and family “I am feeling burned out,” but what you may be experiencing is compassion fatigue. WebMD describes compassion fatigue as the physical, emotional, and psychological impact of helping others, usually through a stressful or traumatic time. You might feel helpless, powerless, hopeless, sad, numb, detached. Compassion fatigue can come on quickly.

The good news is that compassion fatigue is treatable! Thank you, Dr. WebMD! One of the top suggestions to prevent compassion fatigue is to education yourself on the signs and symptoms. Here are some signs as listed by the American Institute of Stress, Cigna:

  • Emotional: anger, irritability, sense of hopelessness
  • Physical: headaches, stomach pains, hypertension
  • Cognitive: difficulty concentrating, self-blame, low sense of self-worth
  • Behavior: lack of joy, chronic lateness, substance abuse

To overcome compassion fatigue, you first have to come to terms with what you are feeling and develop a plan to care for your SELF, something that so many of us aren’t used to doing. There is no one size fits all plan when it comes to self-care, but there are a few things we can all do to make sure we are recharging our batteries. Here are some do’s and don’t’s when it comes to self-care:


  • Find someone to talk to who will encourage you!
  • Accept that your feelings are valid.
  • Return to or discover new hobbies.
  • Focus on sleep, exercise and diet.
  • Take time away from work.


  • Make a big decision. This can lead to great stress down the line.
  • Shift blame.
  • Commiserate with others…they say misery loves company, but this will only fuel the fatigue.
  • Seek a quick fix in descriptive behaviors.

My challenge to you as we enter this holiday season is to carve out time for self-care and hobbies, focus on your family and healthy friendships, and seek professional help if needed. 

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The National Employment Network Association (NENA) serves Employment Networks (ENs), American Job Centers (AJCs), State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies (SVRAs) and other Stakeholders involved in the Social Security Administration's Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program.

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