As we leave June behind us and brace ourselves for the inevitable July heat, it is startling to realize we have already passed the halfway mark for 2022. Together we collaboratively addressed the challenges of the last few years and are now coming back stronger—and different. Offices have reopened, yet some people will continue to work from home. Travel is back, with changes, and stadiums and theaters are brimming with eager attendees.
At AME, we welcome the prospect of connecting again in person. For the first time in three years, AME will host its annual conference in person in Dallas this October. We are hard at work preparing for what we expect to be a wonderful, professional and safe reunion with our colleagues and friends, where we can all share, learn and grow together. Our director of conferences and events, Desiree Dolecki, appeared this week on Stephen Handisides' podcast, discussing how to successfully implement virtual events into your organization. If you would like to learn more about our process for building the conference and how we integrated virtual content for our members throughout the pandemic, I highly encourage you to have a listen. Desiree is the best at what she does, and the experience she offers here is invaluable.
As we reenter the bustle of our respective workforce environments, I would like to encourage us all to carve out some needed and much deserved down time. We like to believe that our bodies and minds are an intellectual reservoir capable of sustaining us without proper regeneration. We know this is not the case. To avoid burnout, prioritizing downtime is imperative.
Balancing professional obligations against personal goals is a challenge that long precedes the stressors of the pandemic. Academics have been measuring burnout well before the turn of the century. However, it wasn’t until 2019 that the World Health Organization officially encoded burnout as an “occupational phenomenon” we experience “from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”
During the last few years, our homes multi-functioned as living spaces, offices and, for parents with children, classrooms. Additionally, our workplace faced new challenges of remote workers, long lead times and supply change issues. As we learned to creatively navigate this new multidimensional nature of the home and work, down time was inevitably sacrificed. Burnout was a real side effect for some. While we all have shown great resilience, it is time to reward our adaptability with a little bit of down time for ourselves.
Down time does not need to manifest in the form of an elaborately planned vacation (although it certainly can if that is what brings you tranquility). It can be as simple as muting work emails for a while and going for a walk, making yourself a nice lunch, going to the movies, or watching an episode of your favorite show (my guilty pleasure is Shark Tank). When you discover the activity (or lack thereof) that constitutes a session of valuable down time, allow yourself to settle into it, to indulge in that aura of peace and quiet—guilt and stress free.
I believe we will all feel healthier, function happier and strive for excellence in all sectors of our lives when we take time to rejuvenate.
As always, please stay safe and keep looking out for one another.