Essential Advice for First Responders: How to Take Intentional Breaks and Reduce Stress

An expert shares the actionable steps that first responders can take to help fuel their well-being during challenging times.

As a frontline health care worker, you’re doing essential, heroic work to keep others safe. At the same time, you may feel overwhelmed by the endurance required to be successful at your job these days. As you know more than others, human beings are not machines; biologically, we can’t just “go go go,” as Jack Groppel, Ph.D., who recently retired as the co-founder of the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute, says in the video above. Without proper intervention, your current pace can lead to overstress, which can result in burnout, exhaustion, or other health challenges. 

While you might not have control over how many patients you see or how many hours you work during a shift, you have more power than you realize to take control of your emotional and physical well-being. And these behaviors, however small they seem, have the potential to prevent stress from mounting. For instance, you can carve out “moments of renewal” each day, Groppel says. These moments can be brief — even less than a minute is enough time for you to intentionally recharge your mental batteries. As Groppel urges in the video, take a moment right now to ask yourself: How many 25-30 second breaks can you take for yourself during the day? When you pause to think about it, you may see the opportunities for renewal are endless: maybe there’s a moment when you chat with a colleague about something unrelated to work, or when you make time to eat a snack or meal. Even your walk down the hallway to see the next patient can be an opportunity for a mindful recentering. 

Watch the full video above to learn more actionable steps you can take today to help introduce recovery to your routine. 

Click here for information about how Thrive Global, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Johnson & Johnson is supporting our healthcare workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    First Responders First//

    How to Take Care of Yourself When You’re a First Responder During the Coronavirus Pandemic

    by Elaine Lipworth

    “You have the choice.” With Beau Henderson & Kim Colegrove

    by Beau Henderson
    Andrew Angelov / Shutterstock
    Thriving in the New Normal//

    What to Do When You Can’t Work From Home During the Coronavirus Pandemic

    by Jessica Hicks

    Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

    Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

    Thrive Global
    People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.