Preventing Compassion Fatigue when you Become a Health Care Assistant

Health care assistant training

Compassion fatigue is physical and mental exhaustion, combined with emotional withdrawal. It comes as a result of caring for others who have illnesses or traumas over a long period of time. Sometimes, these feelings can also cause apathetic or indifferent thoughts for caregivers. As a health care assistant (HCA), you not only provide important services to support clients, but you also offer your presence as a kind and caring individual. Just as heavy physical labour can cause fatigue over time, so can the mental and emotional work of a health care professional. Taking care of yourself will help you perform better at work and take care of others. Read on to learn some of the ways you can prevent compassion fatigue in yourself, to stay healthy in your career.

Know these Warning Signs when you Become a Health Care Assistant

Compassion fatigue occurs over time, but there are signs of it before it becomes too severe. To decrease your risk of burnout or mental health conditions, familiarize yourself with these early warning signs. Behavioural changes are a good indicator that something might be wrong. With gradual immersion through health care assistant training, you can get comfortable with a work environment and start to understand your own patterns. This will get easier as you gain more experience and you’ll be able to notice when your behaviour is off.

Notice your own patterns and behaviour in your workplace to keep an eye on your mental health
Notice your own patterns and behaviour in your workplace to keep an eye on your mental health

Feelings of overwhelm, anger, or anxiety can be early signs of compassion fatigue. If you often feel powerless or irritable, it may be time for some preventive measures. Detachment from your surroundings or experiences is another sign. If you find that your empathy is decreasing or you feel insensitive to stories you hear, you may be withdrawing due to compassion fatigue. Other early warning signs include difficulty sleeping, nausea, headaches, and difficulty concentrating.

Keeping Mindfulness in your Life after HCA School

Mindfulness is a strategy that can be incorporated into your lifestyle to help prevent compassion fatigue. Being present helps reduce stress on the job. Focusing on your breathing is a great place to start, noticing the flow of breath in and out of your body.

Many health care professionals can benefit from meditation as well – it acts as mindfulness training to prepare you for improved focus, lower stress, and a more efficient thought process at work. Research shows that integration, or how the brain’s regions function together, is improved by meditation. This means that you have more balanced thoughts, perceptions, and attitudes during your work day.

Being present each day will help you cope with stress and prevent compassion fatigue
Being present each day will help you cope with stress and prevent compassion fatigue

Practical Self-Care for Health Care Assistants

Seek quality social support. Having friends and family you can rely on is important to prevent isolation. Support from a mental health professional can also give you space to talk through your experiences. In addition, eating healthy and hydrating can drastically improve your mental health.

You may also want to evaluate your sleep hygiene for areas of improvement. Caffeine and alcohol can both disrupt sleep if consumed close to bedtime. Getting adequate exposure to sunlight should also be a part of your day, to balance out your sleep-wake cycle. A relaxing routine that you can follow each night at bedtime is also helpful. When you become a health care assistant, you spend time calming and comforting other people, but it’s key to remember the importance of this for yourself. Reading, light stretching, or a warm bath may be all you need to doze off peacefully.

Are you interested in HCA School?

Contact Discovery Community College for more information!