I work in a busy practice and exam around 30 patients most days. Full eye examinations; contact lens fits; contact lens aftercares. Sometimes I dispense the glasses. I rarely get a break. By the time I get to the middle of the week I’m exhausted. I’m worried that Iack of concentration during the history and symptom taking will cause me to not hear important information. I’m worried that my wandering mind might cause me to miss something during ophthalmoscopy. I like the people I work with but if nothing changes I’m worried I will burnout. What should I do?

It’s impossible to make more time, but everyone can make new energy. It takes me twice as long to write a Question of the Day at 2:30 p.m. as it does at 10:30 am. I haven’t become dumber-my energy levels change during the workday. To avoid this, I try to take three breaks in the day-the first is physical, the second social, and the third spiritual(ish).

 Midmorning break: physical-15 minutes

A walk around the block, a walk around the mall, walking the dog, going for a run, doing a workout video, jumping rope, doing some kettlebell exercises, or hustling up and down the stairs.

 Early-afternoon break: Social-30 minutes

A coffee with a colleague (or FaceTiming/Zoom/Skype over a cup of coffee if you’re working virtually), having lunch with your partner and kids if they’re around, or calling a friend or family member you want to catch up with. Have a chat about things in your life with another member of staff. Have a chat about the things in the other member of staff’s life. Try not to make it about work.

 Mid-afternoon break: Spiritual-15 minutes

Anything affecting the human spirit or soul. Plenty of soulful activities can fit just fine into a workday: praying, meditating, reading spiritual texts or devotionals, listening to uplifting music, looking at something beautiful, or doing anything that connects you to something larger than yourself. My favourite is to look out of a window at something natural; trees, clouds, stars, the Moon, the horizon.

Break lengths of 1, 5, and 9 minutes, have been tested and all these break conditions made people feel better. Anyone can find 60 seconds in the day, though you can probably find more. Social media consumers average two hours a day on these sites. Those are breaks, sure, but consciously chosen ones work a lot better.

Ask the boss to give you a break. If you are the boss give your staff a break.

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