How To Take a Quick Mental Break During Your Shift

Whether you’re working in home care, in a hospital or in an office, it’s essential to recognize the necessity of taking a quick break, even if it’s a mental break. When you’re working short-staffed, or you’re the only one there, it may be difficult to justify taking a few moments for yourself. However, working like this is not sustainable and can result in burnout.

Why Is Burnout Important?

Burnout can affect people in any type of job, but those in healthcare are at a higher risk. This is a special type of work-related stress that can affect your physical and mental health. Individuals who feel they do not have control at work or have unclear job expectations can be at an increased risk. Dysfunctional workplace dynamics, lack of social support, and a work-life imbalance all contribute to the development of burnout. Some of the consequences include insomnia, fatigue, alcohol or substance misuse, and physical conditions such as high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and a greater vulnerability to viral illnesses. In other words, it’s important to prevent it!

How Does Taking A Mental Break Help Your Brain?

When you’re caring for someone else, it’s important to remain sharp and reduce the potential for medical error that may have a significant negative impact on your patient. Even a brief break at work can give your brain a rest, improve your focus and raise your productivity.

It might be impossible to get away from work, but it is not impossible to take a quick mental break. This will help to prevent something called decision fatigue, during which people often make simple decisions or procrastinate. Breaks also restore your motivation and will ultimately improve your learning.


Let’s Take a Break!

There are several ways to take a quick mental break that can take less than three or four minutes. When you’re running on empty at work, it’s easy to overlook signals in yourself as well as subtle signs in your patient you may not have noticed if your mind was focused and sharp. That means it’s time to take a pause.

Ten deep breaths – Sometimes, when you’re focused on completing a task, your breathing becomes shallow. Your brain requires a little bit more oxygen to be creative, productive and sharp. Stop for 2 minutes and consciously take ten deep breaths. This helps to clear your mind and focus your thoughts.

Self-Massage – It takes less than 5 minutes to give yourself a quick self-massage on your neck and upper arms. This is where most people hold their tension. When you can release muscle tension, your body has more energy to focus on staying sharp. Do your massage while you’re taking ten deep breaths for the biggest benefit.

4 Minute Relaxation – when you only have a couple of minutes to yourself in an 8-hour shift, try taking those minutes to use breathing and relaxation techniques that give your brain a mental break and stimulate oxygen supply. Deep breathing, focused muscle relaxation, or 3 minutes clearing your mind of everything and allowing yourself to just “be,” can all help to give yourself a break.

Emotional Freedom Techniques – If you need a little bit extra help to relax and clear away the tension that can build up when you’re understaffed and overwhelmed, consider Emotional Freedom Techniques. This is a form of acupressure that also incorporates verbal reinforcement. It’s easy, effective and can be done in a private moment.


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