In this session, you will learn what self-compassion is and why it so important in a caring relationship. We explain compassion fatigue and how to avoid it and offer tests to measure self-compassion and compassion fatigue. A mindfulness exercise is provided to help you relax and remind you to care about yourself too.

What are the objectives of session 7?

  • To understand why self-compassion is vital in caring for others
  • To learn about compassion fatigue and identify the symptoms
  • To look at solutions to improve your self-care, and, by implication, your ability to help another
  • To practice a mindfulness exercise of loving-kindness and self-compassion
  • To remind you of the importance of relaxation and a mindful attitude

Self-compassion is vital in caring for others!

First, take care of yourself! Only when we help ourselves can we effectively help others. Caring for yourself is the most important thing that you can do, but it is often undervalued and forgotten in the entanglement of others’ problems and needs. However, when you are relaxed and energized, others will benefit too.

It is all too common that those who care for others also develop issues such as medical problems, distress, depression, anxiety, and more. For example, research has proven that if you are a caregiving spouse over the age of 65 who are experiencing mental and emotional strain, your risk of dying is 63% higher than that of people the same age who are not caregivers. Other problems caregivers commonly report that increase the risk include sleep deprivation, poor eating habits, failure to exercise, failure to take the time to recover when ill, and postponement or failure to accept help for themselves.

You probably know all too well that the need to help someone else can be an emotional rollercoaster. Progress sometimes shatter and hopes are dashed with setbacks. This is in sharp contrast to the rewarding personal experience that can come from helping another make and sustain positive change. It is these ups and downs that can be exhausting and take an enormous personal toll.

In the next section, we look at how to take the first step to self-compassion.