The Fall semester is about to begin and while we look forward to starting again, we must also acknowledge the lingering grief, trauma, and upheaval of the past year. This week’s article in Inside Higher Ed notes that many faculty, staff, and administrators will continue to serve as front-line support for students and others in the campus community and beyond. The authors call attention to “the significant emotional labor and resulting compassion fatigue that results from providing that level of support over an extended period.” Emotional labor is managing one’s own feelings to prioritize and support other’s feelings.
Compassion fatigue can occur when an individual takes on the trauma others feel, resulting in exhaustion or burn-out and loss of productivity, leaving the individual feeling so overwhelmed that they become numb to new situations. The article identifies several intentional institution-wide strategies for moving forward including acknowledging the short-term and long-term impacts of the last 18 months, moderating expectations to be inclusive of different people’s needs and situations, and encouraging self-care and reflection in order to promote recovery and renewal.
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