Do You Have Compassion Fatigue?

As a veterinarian professional, statistics tell us that you are in one of the most stressful professions that exist.  Working with ailing animals and the people that love them produces a unique type of stress that many other professionals don’t regularly have to deal with.  Compassion fatigue is defined as the feeling of “indifference to charitable appeals on behalf of those who are suffering, experienced as a result of the frequency or number of such appeals.”  Compassion fatigue can lead to other more serious repercussions if not dealt with early on. Here are the telltale signs that you may be experiencing it:

•    Frequently isolating yourself from others

•    Finding little pleasure in life

•    Difficulty concentrating

•    Trouble sleeping

•    Experiencing fatigue both physically and mentally

•    Not expressing your emotions

•    Bad dreams or Nightmares

•    Feelings of hopelessness or powerlessness

•    Frequently complaining about your work or your life

•    Overeating

•    Excessive use of drugs or alcohol

•    Generally not taking care of yourself

•    People are complaining about your work or attitude

•    Feeling burdened by the suffering of others

•    Blaming others for their suffering

•    Denial

Jesus teaches us to rest.  In Mathew 11:28 he tells us “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”  The reality is that we take his words as more of a recommendation rather than a command.  Many professionals spend 60 or more hours per week at work and often bring even more work home with them, sacrificing important relationships and time for their own relaxation.  The consequences in the veterinary field can lead to emotional distress or even suicide.

Jesus is an excellent example for us, and we can apply his tips to our own lives as we seek to honor him and honor the life and relationships that he has given us.  Here are some ways in which Jesus rested and you can too.

•    Before the day begins, step away for prayer. (Mark 1:35)  Just pausing to surrender the day before it starts is a step towards understanding the day’s events are not “all about me” and you can see the day unfold through God’s orchestration.

•    Go away and rest for a while. (Mark 6:31-32) Take a day or a weekend often to get away for a rest.  Your family will enjoy this too.

•    Get away from the crowd. (Luke 5:15) Even while people crowded around him, Jesus would “often slip away to the wilderness to pray” showing us that it is more critical to remain centered and rested than to fulfill every desire or need of every person we meet.

Even In the midst of chaos, through the example of Christ, we can remain mentally centered on Him. (Mark 4:35-41) Through a terrible storm,Jesus was able to rest.  His trust was not in the weather or the people and situations that surrounded him but inGod’s sovereignty over all things. While we know that resting is a command and that  Jesus practiced it, we can find it a challenge.  But as we start the day surrendered and continue to look for opportunities to “step away” daily and even for more extended periods of time, God can keep us from compassion fatigue.

Christian Veterinary Mission exists to empower veterinarian professionals to live out their faith in their profession.  We believe in the power of prayer and want to pray for you.  Email your prayer requests directly to

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