Labor Day Reflection

Jamar Doyle

Earlier this month we all celebrated Labor Day, the unofficial end to summer. Many gathered in parks, beaches, and backyards with family and friends to enjoy a last cookout of the season amid the cooling summer air. Usually, for me and my husband, this means frantically grilling, cooking, and cleaning as we prepare to host a horde of people for the holiday. However, this year was different. House construction meant none of those usual duties. It was a Labor Day of rest, and while it felt different, it felt GOOD. At first this seemed strange, but upon reflection, this pause to rest was both needed and right in line with the meaning of Labor Day, the one day specifically set aside for rest and to honor the dignity of work and all those who labor.

I brought this up in a recent conversation with a nurse at my mom’s nursing home and was soon confronted with the reality that my Labor Day of rest was a privilege not enjoyed by everyone. Although this is a day to honor laborers, many working in the human service fields cannot take time to enjoy this day set aside for them. Not only had this nurse worked on Labor Day, she told me she often works double shifts, which have been hard on her and her family — so hard, in fact, that she was looking for another job. This amazing woman who had shown so much kindness to my mom and was the model of compassionate care was considering leaving the healthcare field. It wasn’t for dislike of the profession — she loved her job — but burnout was affecting her quality of life. I thought to myself, this woman pours so much of herself into caring for her patients; who pours into her so she can take care of herself and her family? I left my mom’s that day wishing there was more I could do for her beyond offering an encouraging word and my gratitude for all she’d done for my mom.

Unfortunately, this is a story that is all too familiar today, especially in the human service fields like healthcare, education, social work, spiritual care, and others. Burnout in these fields is at an all-time high, so it’s no surprise that the great resignation is greatest in human services.

CHHSM agencies face these challenges daily, maintaining compassionate care in this unprecedented labor environment. In response, CHHSM has focused recent workshops and seminars on talent support, from recent Nollau trainings focused on self-care and team building to our upcoming September 21 webinar on employee recruitment and retention. We are being intentional with the support we provide our members, but all of us play an important role in supporting our workers in the human service fields. So, as we head into the last quarter of 2022 and the hustle and bustle the approaching holiday season brings, let’s remember the benefits of rest to our minds and bodies, the necessity of spiritual rest for our souls, and our duty to offer support to those caring for others — because they may not have room in their lives for their own self-care.

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