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.

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