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  • Dr. Eric Rooker

Countdown to Success: On microbreaks and stress management

Updated: Feb 23, 2023

5 Inputs, 4 Quotes, 3 Thoughts, 2 Challenges and 1 Question (July 21th, 2022)

“Helping you achieve high-performance medicine.”

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Happy June,

Your journey of professional development is important to me. Please hit that reply button or join our Facebook Group to share your journey and inspiration with our community.

You never know when your ideas, stories, actions or reflections will inspire another vet out there!

Alright, let’s get to it!

Here are 5 Inputs to Inspire, 4 Quotes to Contemplate, 3 Thoughts to Ponder, 2 Challenges to Conquer and 1 Reflection Question to help you grow this month.

5 Inputs to Inspire

I. The BBC does a great job describing The tiny breaks that ease your body and reboot your brain. Microbreaks are the 15-60 second breaks you take throughout the day to disengage the work you're doing and provide your brain a break. Rather than larger pauses this simply allows your brain to reset moment to moment.

II. Kids up all night? Late night out with friends? Tired at work? Try applying microbreaks more often during your days of higher fatigue to maintain a high level of veterinary practice. Sooyeol et all 2022 shows us the power microbreaks can have to craft work engagement on our most difficult work days.

III. Does your lunch break really count as a break? Kim et al 2018 suggests that the breaks that we take only to eat and fail to combine meaningful activities such as socialization, entertainment, or learning do not actually provide us an ability to disengage from work. This means they do not qualify as a break for our brain.

IV. One of the most important realizations we can come to in our careers is the revelation that stress is a normal feeling. In fact, stress suggests we have entered the growth zone of our careers. Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar does a great job of describing just what we need to do with stress in his 2006 Harvard lecture series.

V. Using microbreaks to manage stress is a natural progression in our careers. The American Psychological Association does a great job of summarizing much of the key research behind breaks and stress. The next time you're running low on that brain fuel, stop, read that book, watch that video, do a section of that online course; fill your cup so you can better serve your family, clients and self!

4 Quotes to Contemplate

I. Jenna Levin, theoretical cosmologist studies black holes for a living, a literal scientist of something we cannot see beyond the forces it exacts on the universe. Therefore, she has a unique perspective on the frustrations that work can cause:

I used to resent obstacles along the path, thinking, 'If only that hadn't happened life would be so good.' Then I suddenly realized, life is an obstacle. There is no underlying path.

II. Personal development author Thibaut Meurisse discusses how seeing stress through a lens of negativity vs the lens of growth can cause suffering:

Negative emotions are not the problem, the mental suffering you create out of these emotions is.

III. Author and coach Bianca Cole about the importance of winning in the small things, like microbreaks, if we want to become "great" by whatever our definition of greatness is:

Always remember, it is not the great things a man did that made him great, but the little things he did in great ways.

IV. American diplomate and politician John Foster Dulleson about understanding tough problems such as veterinary profession-based stress and the importance of trying to tackle it differently each year:

The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year.

3 Thoughts to Ponder

I. Our world changes irrevocably when we start to see stress as a tool, not as a negative. We begin to see opportunity in a struggle. Our attitudes change from; not ANOTHER challenge to what a great opportunity. This won't make the challenge easier but it will change our ability to be resilient and cope with the coming challenges.

II. The second I began to realize that my snack and lunch breaks alone in the truck were not "breaks" my ability to manifest high-performance medicine changed. I didn't stop eating BUT I did start to stop and take 5, 10, and 15-minute breaks. As the cumulative benefits of these added up my energy to serve and create in the afternoons soared and my ability to positively impact my world and those in it changed forever.

III. If we were to seize back 30 seconds of every hour we would only be taking back autonomy over 0.83% of that hour from whomever we are dedicating that time to. This is an amount no single client will notice BUT an amount that can provide us enough time to significantly reset our brain, check in with our body and help manage our daily stress. So take back control of that fraction of an hour and use it wisely.

2 Challenges to Conquer

I. Set an alarm on your phone to go off 4 times per work day for this month. When this phone goes off take 30 to 60 seconds to unplug from your current task; take 3 deep breaths, check-in with your emotions and why you're feeling them, and then check-in with your body - its aches and pains and signals. Using this simple microbreak technique will help return you to the present moment as well as better manage yourself and be more aware of the stressors occurring inside of you.

II. For one week block off 20 minutes for lunch; eat for 10 and take 10 to do something meaningful to you. This could be 10 minutes of a course, YouTube video, podcast, reading etc. After that week, check back in with yourself and see how much more energy you felt you had in the afternoon for your clients.

1 Reflection Question

The average human lives 3,692 weeks, 29,200 days and 700,800 hours. You should willing to take time for yourself every one of those weeks, every day and every hour. Who is deciding if this is a true statement for you?

Until next month,

Dr. Eric Rooker

Founder of Operators to Owners

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