The upcoming Breathe Retreat for the Helping Professions will provide you with a variety of easy ways to manage compassion fatigue. Read on to find out how accessible yoga can help sustain your professional career and if you come along to the retreat you will also learn some safe evidence based strategies to use with clients while you are at it.
Compassion fatigue is an almost inevitable phenomena in the helping professions whether you are a case manager, registered nurse or psychotherapist. Coetzee and Klopper (2010) describe the consequences of compassion fatigue as “changing behaviour and loss of the capacity to interact and engage intimately with others for whom they have responsibility”. Compassion Fatigue is the end result of stress that has not been managed well and is avoidable for so many practitioners, but so many still struggle with this condition.
Eric Gentry talks about the link between the nervous system and compassion fatigue which gives us clues in terms of how to prevent an manage it. It is the constant activation of the sympathetic nervous system that generates compassion fatigue and drains the helper of their ability to sustain a high level of compassion.
So how the hell can yoga and doing a head stand help compassion fatigue?
True yoga is not about twisting your body like a pretzel and is actually about the union of the body, the breath and the mind and the most accessible way to influence the nervous system is through the breath. Just sitting and breathing can be hard to practice as the mind gets easily distracted so I find the linking of gentle movement with the breath keeps my focus.
If we delve a little further into the research around the impact of the breath on the nervous system, and hence stress levels, we also know that it is the exhale that calms the nervous system. So gentle accessible yoga that can even be done sitting down and focusses on breathing out can help refill your jug with compassion for the challenging work that you do.
It can keep you well mentally and physically well and help you to keep you loving the work you do.