By Atyya Chaudhry, MPP, Senior Program Manager, Health Systems Transformation, Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs
Burnout. Fatigue. Exhaustion. These terms have defined our work lives since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. As public health professionals, we are giving more than 100 percent of ourselves to our professional and personal lives, leaving little to no room for reflection and self-care. This sentiment is felt throughout the maternal and child health workforce and is summed up eloquently in a recent quote from Marcus Allen, Program Director of the Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs Program, Office of Family Health Services, Virginia Department of Health:
I think that taking time to recharge is critical. I can only speak from personal experience but for me, I have responsibilities associated with work and in my personal life. I think that people who work in human service-type jobs are “givers” by nature. We really want to do everything when it comes to service and making this world a better place. We are often serving in expanded roles at work, at our churches or other places of worship, at civic associations, and at home, where we may be caring for children, spouses, and aging parents or other relatives or close friends. We have to remember that we can’t be everything to everyone; at some point, we have to step back and rest. It is rare but I will sometimes take a day off and not really tell anyone! I recommend that others consider the same. There is a lot of focus on recharging, but people sometimes forget that time needed to recharge is not possible when we overcommit ourselves. Lastly, I think people need to block off time for lunch! I have seen so many people lately working through their lunch every day and this is not healthy.
In AMCHP’s recently launched podcast episode, “Rest is Infinite: Shifting our Mindset on Rest & Productivity,” we tackle the topic of redefining rest and productivity in a conversation with Marissa McKool, Career and Life Coach. In this engaging episode, Marissa discusses how we have internalized messages about rest as an activity people must earn and not something that is always available and deserved. Reshaping our thinking about rest and productivity will take time and practice. We have to undo the messages we have been socialized to accept.
This podcast episode:
- Features Marissa’s story of her personal wake-up call when she was on the brink of burnout
- Explores why we are sometimes hesitant to take time off
- Discusses how supervisors and managers can be more supportive of staff
- Examines the intersection of oppressive systems and thoughts on rest
- Shares ideas and tips for reshaping our mindset
This podcast episode was published on May 24, 2022, and is available on AMCHP’s official podcast, MCH Bridges.