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When You Just Can’t Care Anymore

Preventing and healing compassion fatigue
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Here are a few important strategies you can utilize if you find yourself dealing with compassion fatigue.

1. It’s important for your emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being to take regular breaks. At the local church where I serve as the pastor of small groups, each pastor is given a three-day spiritual retreat twice a year. The purpose for the retreat is to rest and focus on God.

To prevent compassion fatigue, it’s important to get away from ministry to get refreshed and renew your vision. Even if you work a secular job you can take a three-day weekend and get away specifically to rest and focus on your relationship with Christ.

2. It’s important to find hobbies that you find pleasurable and fun. If you find golf relaxing, then golf. If it’s refurbishing furniture, redo furniture. Hobbies can provide a release from the stress and tension that come from caring for others dealing with trauma. This is imperative for your well-being.

3. When your life is about others, you have to compartmentalize your emotions so you can be present in the moment. It's difficult to change hats from being in the midst of pastoring someone through trauma, to problem-solving technical difficulties at the church, to bringing a message on the weekends when your own heart is broken over a situation. That’s why it’s imperative that you have a “go to” person on whom you can unload your thoughts and emotions, someone who is accessible to you and who expects nothing from you. Someone who is willing to listen to you and pray for you.

Finally, it’s healthy to remember that you are not God. You are not created to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. You can’t take someone’s pain away and make their world the way it was prior to the trauma. However, you can pray, support, encourage, listen, and be available. His yoke is easy and his burden is light. Let him carry you as you’re helping others, and as you are helping others, point them to the one who carries everything, heals anything, and restores. He’s our everything.

Julia Mateer is a writer, speaker, therapist, and director of women’s small groups at Bayside Community Church. You can connect with Julia on her website.


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