Turn Weeds Into Wishes

Yesterday’s Chapter Presidents Luncheon not only taught attendees how to recognize and manage burnout, but also how to cure a much deadlier disease: adultitis.

“Burnout syndrome itself is the unrelenting stress that you experience in your work environment,” said guest speaker and former AACN president Vicki Good. She said it consists of mental and physical exhaustion, depersonalization and the feeling of reduced personal or professional accomplishment.

Nearly 30% of us have had a high degree of burnout. The syndrome consists of several internal triggers, such as self-doubt or lack of “voice,” as well as environmental triggers stemming from the stresses of end-of-life care, power imbalances or poor communication. However, there’s also something called resilience, and it CAN be learned.

According to Good, much of resilience lies in renewal.

“How do we renew ourselves?” she asked. “Perhaps it’s meditation, getting away, or building hope and compassion for the future.”

And then there’s PLAY. According to Stuart Brown, founder of the Institute of Play in California (yes, this place exists), “the opposite of play is not work — the opposite of play is depression.” Play is essential in shaping the brain and fostering empathy so that we can regain our most creative selves.

And creativity doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a great painter or musician, said keynote speaker, artist and author Jason Kotecki. It’s just that our creativity flew out the window when we developed adultitis. Key symptoms of adultitis include chronic dullness, fear of change and the inability to smile. “Generally, patients with this condition are not fun to be around,” Kotecki said.

A self-proclaimed “reminder-er-er,” he reminded attendees to remember what it was like to be a child, when the silly rules invented over the years didn’t exist, when we escaped to our secret hideouts, when play was the dominant part of every day.

“If you look out your window and see dandelions, this is bad news for adults,” Kotecki said. “These are weeds that have taken over the yard, ‘gotta call the weed guy, this is a problem!’ But a kid sees the exact same scene and they see wishes.” So, take time to play. Find your secret hideout. Enjoy every minute of your day. And make wishes.