Compassion Fatigue and Burnout

The visions we offer our children (people) shape the future.

Martin S. II

A minister’s (pastor’s) belief, implementation of Christian/psychology integration and definitional understanding of burnout and compassion fatigue, determines what self-care or stress management techniques are most effective. Defining the distinction of compassion fatigue and burnout is important.

According to Hanley (2019) burnout is a defense response characterized by discouragement and demoralization, while compassion fatigue is characterized by over engagement.

In burnout, the emotions become overactive caused by grief engendered by the loss of ideals and hope. According to Pastoral Care, (2022) the depression of stress is produced by the body’s need to protect itself and conserve energy.

In compassion fatigue, the physical damage (exhaustion) primarily affects motivation and drive. They further suggest to 1. Accept your limitations. We are all limited in what we can and must do. Trust God for help whenever you need it. 2. Use correct sense. Think about the common welfare, what you are doing and how it might affect your family and those around you. How are you managing financially, physically, emotionally, and spiritually? Are things getting better or worse? 3. Balance the essential elements of your life. Relationships are important to you. Recognize you are not what you do but who you are. Set boundaries, manage time, talk about your problems (confidant), eat well, and take breaks.

Design a life that allows you to have a personality, friendships,  hobbies, can pay your bills and have some fun.  These values and practices are more important than position, projects, and possessions.

Although not evidence-based, these techniques display correct sense in valuing and aligning your purpose (service) with grounding principles for alleviating major stress, which accounts for high blood pressure, depersonalization, panic, and disease.

Lastly, exploring in-depth study of Christian/psychology integration into fundamental principles with biblical scripture, gives a counselor a richer understanding to develop practices in combating fatigue or burnout.

The Serenity Prayer, for example, presented in segments, highlight specific stress management concepts, and articulates stress management including (a) emotion-focused coping, (b) problem-focused coping and (c) perceived control. (Campbell, 2015).

‘God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.’ This opening passage of the Serenity Prayer articulates a wealth of psychology and religious principles (serenity, change, courage, wisdom-‒discernment. It is a fundamental tenet of 12 step programs.

References

Campbell. E. L. (2015). Utilizing the serenity prayer to teach psychology students about stress management. Journal of Psychology & Theology, 43, p. 3-7. https://lopes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLAn3772701&site=eds-live&scope=site&custid=s8333196&groupid=main&profile=eds1

Hanley, C. E. (2019). Compassion fatigue, self-care, and clergy members: How social workers can help. Electronic Theses, Projects, and Dissertations. 820. https://scholarworks.lib.csusb.edu/etd/820/

Pastoral Care Inc. (2022). Stress and burnout in the ministry. Pastoral Care Inc. https://www.pastoralcareinc.com/articles/stress-burnout/#:~:text=Here%20are%20a%20few%3A%201%20Be%20aware%20of,you%20are%20%22called%22%20and%20%22gifted%22%20to%20do.%20

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