Adultitis - Yikes! What is This and How to Cure it???

What is adultitis? Do you have stage I, II or a full-blown case? Jason Kotecki was the featured speaker at the AACN NTI Chapter President’s Luncheon and his topic was adultitis. Nurses General Nursing Event Video Interview

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Adultitis - Yikes! What is This and How to Cure it???

Adultitis is characterized by people, mostly adults who take themselves too seriously. While other adults may not notice this, children almost always pick up on this trait. Jason Kotecki, well-known author and humorist spoke about this illness with Mary Watts, BSN, RN,’s Content and Community Director at NTI 2019 in Orlando, Florida.

Signs and Symptoms

Mary asked about the signs and symptoms of this illness and Jason answered, “we have done research and over 93% of all adults have some type and kind of adultitis. He cited Oscar the Grouch as a good example of this disease. ” The average age of onset occurs once you get out of school and start work, have bills, get involved in different activities, and put your work before fun. It seems like it can be a genetic correlation too - if your parents have it, you are predisposed to it too.” Many times others notice it before the patient does, and they may make comments: “you need to smile more, don’t take things so seriously” and other similar statements. Sometimes you have to schedule downtime just like you schedule your work and business commitments.

Take a Vacation

For nurses, this is an important part of life. Most nurses are very serious at work. After all, our work involves human life. Many nurses at the luncheon talked about the amount of PTO that they had accumulated and how they felt they couldn’t use it. However, as Jason pointed out, once you decide to use it on a well-deserved vacation, the anticipation of the event can be even better sometimes than the actual event. Jason said, “it’s very important to have a happy place. Plan those times during the week and treat yourself.”

Jason related that when his first child was born and he was sitting in a rocking chair with her and he suddenly felt anxious because “I wasn’t doing anything.” When he thought about it a second time though he realized it was a very important moment in his journey to curing adultitis. “Life shouldn’t always be so busy - we need to appreciate joy too.”

Is There a Cure?

There is no “magic cure” for adultitis - there are always highs and lows in life and it is super important to take time for fun. Advocate for fun with your family, your friends, and your co-workers. For instance, at this luncheon, we ate dessert first and as we all looked around at each other, we were uncomfortable doing this. As we enjoyed our dessert though, we started to smile and laugh and enjoy each other’s company. First, though we all looked at the dessert and asked each other if it was really OK to go ahead and enjoy it. (Many of us have adultitis).

Time Passes By So Quickly

Jason related, “this is the last Summer of my kids at that age, the time is passing by and it's important to appreciate your blessings and perspective.” Stress is a part of all of our lives but by being grateful we make happiness for ourselves.” He stated that his most important message was: “It sounds pretty cliche but we get caught up with what others do and think. We start trying to achieve what others have and if we started to be more mindful of US, the stress would be lessened.” He admitted that even he can be affected by adultitis - “sometimes I compare myself to other speakers and realize that I could achieve more if I was on the road more but I intentionally set a limit on appearances because my time with my family is so important. Accolades, letters after my name are not as important as my relationship with my family.

Do you have adultitis? What’s your “happy place?”

Watch the complete interview:

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This sounds like an article written in The Onion. Adults acting like serious adults should be celebrated, not condemned. We take life seriously because there are a heckuva a lot of adults who make very poor life choices (be it drugs, or toxic/abusive relationships, or poor impulse control) because they wanted to live life "in the moment" or for the "experiences", and we don't want to be those type of adults. What happened to self-discipline and acting one's age nowadays? For the record, I'd rather have a patient (or anyone really) think I'm too serious and respect my dedication to professionalism, rather than think I'm being flippant, immature, and thus concerned that I can safely care for them. To me, being serious is a matter of self-respect, not a matter of being a square. And we as adults choose to have fun with the people and situations we feel it's okay to have fun - not because we are insecure and don't want to come off unserious.

It took turning age 50 before I was able to "lighten up " about taking everything in life so serious. That, and my child now that I've survived that (notice that living through that would be differently worded)...nothing else gets to me anymore. I would highly suggest that you enjoy the time you have with your children and family....and I really mean enjoy, in case there's a time that they're not around. Just a thought...that's all.

MSO4foru, ADN

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Specializes in Hospice Home Care and Inpatient.

Often I think I have major Adultitis. I am the $ earner, I have lots of accumulated PTO that I know I should use but don't. We have 3 dogs including a not well dog who would need boarding if we went on vacation- greatly adding to expensive if we went on vacation. My son goes to a non traditional high school,so pick up times vary. In the past I have been ' burned' by using PTO via volunteering to flex. Which was great until I needed emergency appendectomy and came back to work with low census and only 9 hrs PTO. I changed jobs which wound up being a disaster. Was fortunate to return to my specialty 4 months later.

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