When you're caring for someone, practicing self-awareness and self-care can help you maintain your boundaries; this, in turn, allows you to be fully compassionate without being consumed by the other person's pain. Consider:
- Mindfulness meditation—it's been shown to decrease depression and anxiety while boosting empathy. [Try Sharon Salzberg's audio meditations]
- Keeping a journal. Research suggests that reflective writing helps prevent compassion fatigue.
- A daily act of self-centering: Set an alarm for noon and take four deep breaths; or when you wash your hands, sink into the experience, feeling the sensation of the water on your skin while noting, "I am worthy of my own time."
- Staying connected to the outside world with at least a phone call every day. Better yet, get outside, even just to take a walk.
- And don't be afraid to ask for help.