Last week I was going through my Facebook page – I swear, I wasn’t at work :) – and I saw that one of my friends had posted a question about what to put on her e-reader while away on vacation. My friend is also in the helping field and works with people who have experienced a lot of pain/suffering/loss/trauma in their lives. We talk about managing compassion fatigue and burnout on a regular basis.
In looking at the responses that she got, I saw that one of the recommendations was for a memoir that I had read. It was a great memoir, but the story was about a woman who overcame a lot of adversity and pain in her childhood. Her story was not unlike the stories we hear from our clients every day.
I responded, “that is a great book, but please do not read it while on vacation”. As helping professionals we hear a lot of stories from our clients about pain and suffering and loss on a daily basis. To stay balanced, we need to take breaks from these stories.
In my compassion fatigue workshops, we talk about one of the strategies for managing compassion fatigue and burnout. This strategy is limiting your trauma input.
Think about how much exposure you have two trauma or pain-and-suffering on a daily basis. We see it on the news. We hear about on the radio. We read about it on the Internet or in the newspapers. And if you’re helping professional you probably hear about it on a daily basis. You may even go one step further and watch TV shows or read books about pain-and-suffering.
It is vitally important that you take breaks from trauma. Vacations are a perfect time to do this. When you are planning your vacation this summer please keep in mind the concept of limiting your trauma input. This may include taking breaks from the media, the Internet, newspapers, and any fiction or documentaries that describe real-life pain-and-suffering.
I would love to hear what you do on vacation to nourish yourself so that you come back year rested, rejuvenated and have increased your resiliency to compassion fatigue and burnout. If you have any great summer reads I’d love to hear about them as well, so leave a comment below.