As busy healthcare practitioners, we get it. It’s easy to just “go, go, go” and worry about giving ourselves a break later (or sometimes not at all.) Would you believe us if we told you that taking breaks is actually a way to increase your productivity and decrease your stress? Stay tuned!
I’m sure most of us have heard of the term “burn out”, but let’s refresh ourselves with its actual definition. Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. Is this a definition for burnout or for the year 2020?? But in all seriousness, if there are ways to combat this … why not implement some strategies to help?
Take a movement break:
This is the most ideal break to take! Movement is beneficial for both your physical AND mental health. Get up from where you’re stationed (couch, office, desk, dining room table etc.) and go for a short walk. When we say short walk, do not let this be to go switch the laundry, walk to shovel your driveway… we mean take a MINDFUL WALK. Avoid stacking tasks during your break time and truly let your brain have a break.
Take a focus break:
Do you have texts to respond to? Is there a 30 minute show you’ve been dying to watch? Don’t feel guilty for wanting to do these tasks. Slot yourself some time, clear your mind and enjoy yourself. Breaking focus from the tasks you’ve been working on will allow you to restore motivation when you return on-task. Let your brain recharge before jumping back in.
Give your brain time to soak in what you just learned:
Whether working on a big project, or accomplishing small/frequent tasks… taking breaks allows your brain to improve memory formation. During breaks, the brain reviews and retains what it just learned.
Taking these breaks will increase productivity by refreshing your mind, restoring your energy and replenishing your mental power to keep going. Working for long durations without any breaks will lead to feeling rundown, overwhelmed and exhausted. Research suggests that taking regular breaks actually raises your level of engagement when returning to work, which ultimately affects and increases productivity.
Things to consider to take “the best break possible”:
-Get up and move, even if just for a little while.
-Change your scenery (move from where you were working last)
-Have a healthy snack
-Drink some water (re-fuel, literally!)
-Focus on your breathing and slow it down
-Do something that makes you happy
Finally, what is the most ideal work-to-break ratio?
Studies show that working for 52 minutes with a 17 minute break is the most effective work to break ratio. This is a very specific number and you have to find what works for you! Once you find yourself losing focus, getting distracted or feeling antsy… implement a break. Play around with your timing and see what works best for your situation.