Handling Compassion Fatigue as a CNA

Handling Compassion Fatigue as a CNA

Despite the satisfaction you can gain from working as a CNA and the emotional rewards that such a position offers, at times, nurse aide jobs can be quite stressful as well. Furthermore, if you allow job-related stress to accumulate, it can quickly develop into a condition known as compassion fatigue.

When this occurs, you may experience a variety of symptoms including physical exhaustion, depression, bitterness, hopelessness and a loss of self-confidence. Fortunately, there are some effective ways to handle compassion fatigue, and the best of these methods are briefly described in the section that follows.

Let Your Thoughts Be Heard

First of all, if you believe that you may be experiencing compassion fatigue, it is essential that you let your thoughts be heard. Do not let your feelings simmer and accumulate inside. Speak with a close friend, family member, coworker or even your boss. You may also want to consider seeking the help of a support group or professional counselor. By letting your feelings out, you will find that coping will become easier!

Take Some Time to Recuperate

Another effective way of handling compassion fatigue is taking some time off to recuperate. If your employer offers vacation days and you have not used them yet, now would be the ideal time to take a much-needed break. If a vacation is out of the question, use your days off to partake in some enjoyable activities such as eating lunch with a friend, taking in a movie or relaxing in a local park.

Do Not Be Afraid to Say No

In many cases, compassion fatigue can result from working too many overtime hours. This is common with new CNAs who are afraid to turn down extra shifts. However, if you are feeling stressed out by working too many hours, do not be afraid to start saying no. You just may be surprised as to how understanding your boss will be! You may need to start saying no to over-demanding family members and friends as well.

Remember to Eat Right and Exercise

A poor diet and lack of exercise can also contribute to compassion fatigue as a CNA. It may be tempting to eat a lot of sugary foods and foods high in carbohydrates, but it is better to eat foods that are high in protein. Additionally, not only can exercise keep your body strong and healthy, but it can help you maintain a healthy emotional state too! With that said, add a short exercise regime to your day before you begin your work shift.

Get Plenty of Sleep Every Day

Finally, it cannot be stressed enough as to the importance of getting enough sleep each day. About eight hours of good, restful sleep is typically sufficient for the average adult. Make sure your sleeping environment is conducive to rest and steer away from consuming things before bedtime that may keep you awake such as caffeine or spicy foods.


Some effective ways to handle compassion fatigue include taking time to recuperate, learning to say no, getting plenty of sleep, exercising and eating properly.

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