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  • Writer's pictureA.S. Morris

A special kind of stress.....

According to #mayoclinic, job burnout is described as a "special" type of job-related stress. More formally stated, "a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity." Let's be honest if you are going to have job-related stress it might as well be special. Perhaps it should come with glitter and sparkles; perhaps it should pop out of a cake. More appropriately, a jack in the box.

Everyone at some point in their career experiences "job burnout." I guess "special" is open to interpretation. Is it a snarky special? Because job burnout is rarely better or greater. We can get all philosophical here and say your special bout of burnout lead you to better and greater things. Did years of being a CPA and one audit too many finally push you to say the hell with it, I am going to be a crabber. I guess that is a case of burnout becoming better or greater. So hats off to you Captain Crabber. May your pots be full.

When you read through the list of symptoms associated with job burnout, you realize that your bout of burnout is more about you than the job. Well, most of the time, sometimes jobs suck or managers suck or your colleagues in and of themselves are "special."

Here is the list of symptoms provided by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Have you become cynical or critical at work?

  • Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started?

  • Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?

  • Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?

  • Do you find it hard to concentrate?

  • Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?

  • Do you feel disillusioned about your job?

  • Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?

  • Have your sleep habits changed?

I'll give you 45 seconds to think what else this list is representative of? What illness, what disease process could use this exact same list? cue final #jeopardy. ... What is depression?? What was your wager? Did you risk it all ? Did you risk zero? Was this a special kind of stress finding the answer? While I fully support Mayo and their clinical expertise, they were also the first hit on google. I could explain why SEM and SEO works..however, we are here to define job-burnout. If it is even definable. According to all my scientific research, it impacts us all differently.

While I sit here relaxing and going through my various social meeting accounts, I cant help but feel a certain kind of stress and perhaps a little jealously. Perhaps a little disappointment. Perhaps a little are you f**king kidding me. I mean we had no #tiktock, #instagram or #facebook when I was growing up. We actually had to CALL a friend on one of those long forgotten phones that hung in the kitchen attached by cords that rivaled stretch armstrong. Now I can visually see that half of the people I follow on social media have moved on from #covid and the other half realize its still a thing. These are also likely the same people whose behavior resulted in lack of recess in elementary school. #wearadamnmask! In all honesty I knew we were in for it when we spent months educating people on how to wash their hands properly. Again, same kids who had my recess time revoked.

These same behaviors have resulted in my recess time at work being revoked. Kind of. We don't get to play dodge ball at the hospital, however it may help morale if we started to. Instead we get to sit in our offices alone and continue our love affair with zoom, webex, and gotomeeting. Doors closed. No in person interaction. I at least have a window and occasionally open it as a reminder of outside life. However, its hot and gross and my office soon feels like a rain forest. Even mother nature has put us in time out. There are only three people at work who I have in person meetings with. The number of remote meetings I have highlight that people working from home are more interested in comfort as well. T-shirts have replaced ties and i'm guessing shorts and pajama bottoms have replaced slacks and skirts. Is this the new way of business? What is the working world going to look like once this is all over? Are those who have been working remotely this whole time going to know how to handle being back in an office? How soon will that novelty wear off? How am I going to feel once people start coming back to work? I've spent months in social isolation. Am I now going to have to relearn collegial small talk? How do we go back to an open door atmosphere? We are ingrained that if we see an office door closed that it is a universal sign for i'm busy or do not disturb. Now I see colorful post its on doors saying come on in, i'm here, say hi.....we are now using 3M products as SOS symbols.

The past couple of weeks I have been struggling with the door closed environment. Each week gets harder and harder. Its why I have become transactional. I put up a white board on the wall that faces my desk and colorfully depict my various to do items. A visual way to show what I have accomplished, what needs doing, what my bosses need to keep an eye one. If this environment keeps up my office is going to be covered with chalkboard paint and I truly am going to be the crazy lady. Maybe i'll get a volleyball and hang with Wilson. This isn't a scenario of me being anti-social. This is the new norm. I go for walks and its almost the same thing outside. People keep to themselves, avoid eye contact, and self isolate. This new norm also highlights that as long as you have your laptop you can work. Hospital, home, south pole.....where there is internet there is productivity. It almost makes the idea of disconnecting impossible. I am going on vacation August 7-17, physically leaving the state. And during that time frame there are three conference calls, one quarterly meeting and one presentation I will be participating in. At least my view will be better and my outfit will be closer to t-shirt than blouse. Is this the new trade off? What symptom is this on Mayo's list of job burnout? Is this burnout or stupidity? These actions are not due to fear of losing my job. My boss just gave me a glowing annual review. If my job is reduced its not their doing. Its forces beyond their control.

I am a mom who works full time outside of the home. On the weekends, especially the weekend before leaving for vacation, I have a list of things that need to be done. And right now I have some major champagne problems. I clean my house every weekend. Four bathrooms. Sheets. Towels. Kitchen. Floors. much blessed laundry. I can't have a housekeeper these days, thanks to COVID. While I hate all the chores, I would rather keep my husband alive. So no housekeeper. There is no beach pedicure. No going to the pool when you want. All the errands. And when you run all the errands no body interacts there either. Perhaps homesteading is the way to go. I'll make friends with the bears. Be the next Davy Crockett. The way my children have been behaving lately wild animal is an accurate description.

I think a lot of us are going through burn out of all the things. Job, home, children, COVID. Perhaps my view is jaded than most. Perhaps working in healthcare adds to my frustration.I don' really have a great answer. Mayo is right, burnout is a "special" kind of stress. If burnout is going to be this should be covered in glitter.

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