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'We're dealing with so many different levels of hurt and pain': Psychologist weighs in on compassion fatigue

For many people, the impacts of COVID-19 on our lives can be easy to become numb to.

TAMPA, Fla. — More than 506,000: That's how many people in the United States were alive a year ago but are no longer with us because of COVID-19.

It's a huge number and can be difficult for some to even understand the true meaning. It's not just a number though, it's people. 

There are about 388,000 people living in the city of Tampa and the deaths from COVID-19 are now way more than that. But, every day we hear non-stop numbers whether it's infections, the percent positivity, or the deaths. For many, it's easy to become numb to the reality of what it all means. Psychologists call this compassion fatigue. 

"As human beings, we automatically care. And those of us that are in the nurturing and caring profession, such as our essential workers or those that are on the frontlines. They're definitely having to exhaust those emotions so much. Even those of us that are working from home are having to balance emotions of dealing with family, friends, coworkers, virtual fatigue. all these different areas,"  said Dr. Carleah East, a St. Pete psychologist.

She says if you notice yourself falling victim to this emotional exhaustion, you need to create some boundaries.

  1. Limit social media to a few times a day
  2. Build on safe and healthy relationships outside of social media
  3. Practice gratitude every day.

"The key to being resilient and overcoming is being able to see the good even when the bad is taking place, being able to balance that positivity, even with negativity surrounding us. So, we have to be able to celebrate and rejoice even with the smallest of triumphs because that is what gives us hope."  

Dr. East says one more way you can reignite your compassion for others is to do some sort of community service. Donating food, volunteering to help distribute it, even just wearing your mask and keeping your distance from others are a few things that she says can help. It can be considered an act of compassion and respect as well. 

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