4 Ways to Avoid Compassion Fatigue

In a culture where we are over-saturated with information, it can be easy to shrug off some of the most difficult headlines that we see in the news. A learned helplessness can saturate our lives because we see so many problems that are much bigger than our ability to help. This dynamic is known as compassion fatigue. This can happen in our personal relationships, where we grow so weary of the pain of those around us that we ourselves become burnt out. Another word for this is secondary trauma; it’s when the trauma of others begins to inflict trauma on us. 

Compassion fatigue hits those who are in high-stress caretaking roles, but when there is so much information for us to consume, I think any of us can begin to become desensitized and overwhelmed by the problems we see in the world that we check out. Yet, we know that true religion is to care for the widows and orphans (James 1:27). Christ-followers are called to be the light in this world. We are here to bring Heaven down. We can’t do that if we are already tapped out just from watching the nightly news. 

The question is, how do we balance the call to love our neighbor, to be Kingdom bringers and justice pursuers while still guarding our hearts against the heaviness that can turn us off from being able to care well for the world around us? 

The start to this journey is to turn down the irrelevant noise in your life. Here is the truth: we can’t process every headline. We can’t get involved in every world crisis. We aren’t able to correct every injustice. We don’t need to know everything that happens in our world. That’s God’s job. 

If the news is wearing you out, and really, even if it’s not, but you are an avid consumer of it, you need to consider taking a step away from the news. Humanity was not built to literally carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. We can pray for God’s light to pierce the darkness of this world without knowing every detail of how the darkness is winning. Hope has to be our focus, and the news is not designed to inspire hope. 

1. Guard Your Heart

If we are caretakers or work in an industry where trauma is around us, we have to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23).  The biggest lie the enemy can feed us when we have stepped into a high-stress role is that we can do this on our own. I hate to tell you, but you can’t, no matter how strong or talented you are. You need rest, God, and others to support you, and you are a person with limits. 

Find places to gain peace even when you are in a heavy role. This could be investing in your own therapy, it could be self-care, time in nature, time at church, a Bible study, or planning a great vacation. Whatever nourishes you has to be something you champion in your routine because once we start burning out, we begin to unintentionally hurt the people we are trying so hard to help. In order to honor God with our actions, we have to honor him with how we care for our minds, bodies, and spirits. He can do more with our little than we can do with our plenty on our own!

2. Find Your Calling and Passion 

One issue with knowing too much is that we lose focus. It’s so easy for our hearts to get tossed around from one issue to another. Scattered people are ineffective people. Everyone who made a real impact in this world, did it for one cause. Bryan Stevenson, the attorney who has tirelessly worked to undue injustices in our judicial system, has spent his life working in this area. He’s made a real impact by being focused on an issue that he is very passionate about. 

Think about what it is that grieves your heart most. What talents have you been given? What connections do you have? What resources could you leverage for the benefit of others? How can you support others in your community who need to see more of God’s light? What in your life is pushing back the darkness? How can you lean into that role? 

These questions can help guide you toward your passion and help you use what you’ve been given to make a difference in this area. Your passion and influence can change as the seasons change in your life. Right now, my passion is homeschooling, foster care, and adoption. My days are devoted to pouring into these roles and communities that I am a part of. As my children age, my passion and focus may change, but I know for now God has called me to leverage what I have to bring light into these areas of my community. 

3. Avoid FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) 

It’s helpful to remind us that our ‘one thing’ is enough. It’s easy to experience FOMO when it comes to serving our communities. We can easily see the great work of others and wonder why we aren’t doing the same. Our only job is to be faithful in the calling God has given us. Worldly ‘success’ is not the goal, but faithfulness to God is. 

I know from experience that being content when our practical mission is daily caregiving is hard. We want the more glamorous Kingdom jobs, but I am convinced that the most profound seeds are sown when we are faithful in the little. We may not get the chance to see on this side of Heaven the full impact of our work, but we can trust that God sees and multiplies the work of our hands for his glory. 

4. Let Prayer Be Your First Weapon

Whatever we see that grieves our hearts, in order to really see God move on our behalf, we need his Spirit to go before us! We activate God’s Holy Spirit through intercession (Ephesians 6:18). Bring the things that we see going wrong around us to the Lord. It’s only through his miracle-working power that change can happen. 

Before taking action, we need to know God’s heart and ask for wisdom on how to approach the chaos of this world. He tells us that if we need wisdom, all we have to do is ask for it (James 1:5). God’s ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). Prayer is our chance to learn his ways, along with reading God’s Word and being in a Christ-centered community. 

Recently, I read the book The Sun Does Shine, and a quote that stood out in my heart is that there are some evils we should just never get used to. We have to run this race well till we are called home (1 Corinthians 9:24). That means never giving up on being light-bringers to our homes, communities, and world.

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Ridofranz 

Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for She has most recently published a devotional, Comfort: A 30 Day Devotional Exploring God’s Heart of Love for Mommas. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.

LISTEN: Let Our Bible Study Expert Help You Start the New Year Right!

Have you ever chosen a word for the year? Whether you pick a word each year or never have before, I think this episode will help you order your life in the year to come. If you don’t know what your word is, today might be a great day for you to hear some of the things that we are promised in Christ that you in faith can claim for yourself for 2024. Keep in mind, each of these words requires faith.

The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.

WATCH: 5 Verses on Strength for When You Feel Weak

Video stock video and music probided by SoundStripe

The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.

WATCH: 10 Sins Christians Downplay (and Why They’re So Destructive)

Stock Footage & Music Courtesy of Thumbnail by Getty Images

READ: 10 Sins That Often Go Overlooked in Christian Community

Previous ArticleNext Article