Healthcare HR/People/Culture Learning - Function

Compassion Fatigue and Signs You’re Experiencing One


Compassion fatigue is a preoccupation with absorbing trauma and emotional stresses of others, and this creates a secondary traumatic stress in the helper”. (Reference 

Compassion fatigue also referred to as secondary traumatic stress (STS) can affect almost everyone, especially those who are caring for others. In fact, according to the Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project, “denial is one of the most detrimental symptoms” because it prevents those who are experiencing compassion fatigue from accurately assessing how fatigued and stressed they actually are, which prevents them from seeking help. 


So what are the signs of Compassion Fatigue?  

  • Mental and physical fatigue 
  • Resenting your work 
  • Denial 
  • Poor self-care 
  • Lack of sleep/restlessness
  • Irritability 
  • Exhaustion 
  • Lack of appetite or over eating 
  • Headaches 
  • Lack of interest in activities of enjoyment 
  • Poor concentration 


So what can you do?  

Recognising first signs and symptoms and speaking up is the first step.

Other steps you can take are:  

  • Talking about your feelings to someone you trust or a professional 
  • Educate yourself on compassion fatigue 
  • Get plenty of rest/sleep 
  • Eat a healthy diet and drink adequate fluids 
  • Gentle exercise/meditation 
  • Have a hobby or an interest outside of work 
  • Socialize/spend time with family and friends 
  • Join a support group 
  • Walks out in nature 


If you think carers burnout is affecting you there are online tests you can take to assess your compassion fatigue.

Please feel free to click on the links below. 




Interesting reads: 


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My name is Kellie Cooper-Smith and providing great Palliative Care is my passion. Two years ago, I was given the opportunity to participate in specialised Palliative Care training and began working as a Community Palliative Care Worker where I assisted people with terminal illness to die as they wished in their homes. Since then I have also become qualified in Community Services, Health Services Assistance (Assistant in Nursing) and Allied Health.

My goal is to help bridge the gaps in Palliative Care, one way I can do this is to share my knowledge and skills with the community and offer my advice and practical guidance to families who are caring for a loved one with a life limiting illness. In my work practice I follow a holistic and person-centred approach looking at each person as an individual, encompassing mind, body and spirit.


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