Who doesn’t love an episode of the Patriot Act? Doesn’t Hasan Minhaj have the perfect problem to discuss with every episode and the perfect solution too? One recent thing he talked about was a term called compassion fatigue. The constant stream of upsetting news tends to make us feel flustered. The urge to do something to help. The world’s expectation to care about anything and everything. There are some things which will remain a problem, no matter how much you care or try to improve them. And this thought, the idea that despite your many efforts the bad news continues to pour in can leave you feeling drained.
This is compassion fatigue.
The Constant Onslaught of Information
We live in a world where media, especially digital media, is always in our lives. Be it the work or personal life, media always creeps in. Think about it, how frequently do you use your smartphone? Actually, the question is how frequently you put it away. Content on social media can be extremely graphic and detailed. The worst are people’s comments, not just negative, but absolutely abusive.
The combination of information and people’s comments can be tough to deal with. It can even cause a lot of compassion fatigue. One of the most important things that can help you beat compassion fatigue is by turning your phone away for a while.
The Desire for Empathy
There are two factors at play. The first is a growing sense of numbness regarding things that are out within your control. The second is the rising expectation of everyone to be empathetic. When everyone harps on a person to care about something, to do something, to make a difference, empathy tends to drive out. A study by the University of Rochester Medical Center and the University has shown a decline in empathy levels by as much as 40%, as compared to the 70s.
The reason for this decline is very basic. The streaming news about other people’s suffering and the injustices faced by the million has become such a commonality, that it has ceased to have the effect.
Sings of Compassion Fatigue
- Others suffering makes you feel burdened.
- You are starting to isolate yourself.
- Unexplained and unhealthy increases in the consumption of drugs or alcohol.
- Sudden changes in appetite.
- Feeling a sense of hopelessness.
- Unexplained mental and physical fatigue.
- Trouble in concentration.
- Changes in sleeping patterns.
- Sudden disinterest in things that would ordinarily interest you.
How to Deal with Compassion Fatigue
- The most important trick is to turn off the media, especially your television and smartphones. Designate a certain number of hours every day when you set these aside and focus on yourself or do something else.
- If you’re looking for recreation and fun, try something that’s not digital. More specifically, try something that involves the use of a screen. Reading, gardening and fitness-related activities like yoga are some great options.
- Keep a journal to keep track of your emotional state. Observe your feelings and understand what’s causing you to feel whatever you’re feeling. This will help you understand yourself and understand your own strengths.
- If you can’t put away your phone completely, change the settings to only get certain notifications or set times for notifications. Try to disengage a little.
- Obtain your information from specific sources only. The news you get from 10 different agencies will be just as useful and effective as news you get from a single but reliable source.
It’s good to be compassionate and empathetic, but not at the cost of your own peace of mind. Positivity is only positivity if it’s doing you just as much good as it would to the others. Remember that and keep using these tips to keep yourself functional in a world we’re hard to make better.