Compassion fatigue is defined as being indifferent to those who are suffering, usually resulting from continuous exposure to pain, death or other hardships. This term was first coined in the 1950s when nurses were diagnosed with symptoms of hopelessness, constant stress and anxiety, affected sleep, pervasive negative attitudes and a diminished pleasure in activities as well as increased isolation.
In both our journals where we are supportive figures to traumatic events, Journaling Through Support to those diagnosed with Cancer and Journaling Through as a Professional Caregiver, the aim of the journal is to gain back energy, place boundaries and thrive, regardless of the external influences.
Lately it seems that we don’t have to look far for bad news. With political unrest, a looming global recession, plastic pollution coupled with climate change, humanitarian crises and mass shootings, it’s easy to succumb to compassion fatigue, whether we are in a caregiving profession, personally involved in the events or an outsider internalizing the events.
How can we continue to feel empathy when we are inundated with so much negativity?
One of the most powerful benefits of journaling is that of compartmentalization. Whatever is written down, the challenges, emotions and struggles are given to our journals and moved outside of our overthinking minds. This clears up the energetic space and creates calmness of mind, a very important aspect to any self-care routine. Let’s take a practical look at how this works:
In your journal, write down all the anxiety-driven, negativity and unfairness from the world that brings you down. Physically close your journal.
Mentally make the switch in your mind to leave the troubles in your journal. For example, every time your thoughts wander towards a topic that makes you angry or sad, remind yourself that it’s in your journal.
This technique is especially potent when we write it all down in the morning before the day starts. This frees up mental and physical energy to go about our day and focus on getting to work on time, spending uninterrupted time with our friends and family and ensuring that we get enough fresh air and nutrition for our bodies. It’s a sure way to combat overthinking and draining our inner resources.
By compartmentalizing our thoughts to our journal, we are not suppressing our emotions either, we simply prioritize them. After a meditation or when we feel safe and at ease, we can reflect on our journal entries and do some soul searching on why these upset us so much. In this way, heavy thoughts and emotions don’t spill over into our everyday lives. It provides us the opportunity to truly live mindfully and with intent.
In Journaling as a Professional Caregiver, our end goal is to thrive with full energy, living out our purpose. The journal ends with a saying, I might not be able to change the outcome, but I can still make a difference.
If we look at the challenging world we live in, how can we still make a difference? Choose a more sustainable life, become an informed voter, involve ourselves in our communities and help those close to us, without becoming overwhelmed or suffer from compassion fatigue through compartmentalized journaling.
Keep Journaling, Keep Growing.