Stress encompasses the ways that your body and brain respond to something you perceive as a demand in your environment. As a healthcare professional, your career requires you to respond to multiple demands at once, and you are likely already experienced in stress management.
Issues can arise, however, when you run short of time to recover between stressors, when you feel as though you cannot respond effectively to the many demands you face, or when you are part of a disaster-affected community and you are also having reactions to that experience.
Compassion fatigue includes two elements: burnout and secondary traumatic stress. Burnout is physical and mental exhaustion leading to reduced ability to cope with your environment. Burnout involves fatigue, frustration, a sense of helplessness, and reduced pleasure in work or other responsibilities. Secondary traumatic stress is the stress you may experience due to empathy with others you see going through trauma, including physical trauma such as serious injury, illness, or death. People also may experience secondary traumatic stress through empathy with others who talk with them about their traumas.