Do you find yourself waiting for the chaos to break, but it never seems to let up? Today’s work environments are being called “modern hazards”, parenting has become sport and most of us are lucky to find five uninterrupted minutes to ourselves.

Burnout is being called “today’s occupational risk”. Vacations or major breaks from the chaos are hard to come by. That’s why I make it a point to include tiny break rituals on my must-do list. Little escapes from the chaos helps me say a big noooo! to burnout and yessss! to sanity. Here are a few of my favorites:

· Drinking coconut water with extra ice

· Reminding myself that I’m not a robot or machine

· Making someone in my office laugh

The secret to break rituals is that you make an intentional effort to take a hiatus from all the noise and do something that contributes to you feeling less frazzled and more centered. There are no one size-fits-all, but finding small rituals that put a big smile on your face and help you breathe a little more add up. Including consistent “me-time” in your routines can have a cumulative effect on your health bottom line.

Can this really help? Burnout can feel inevitable in a world where the space to regroup is being erased by long to-do lists, non-stop pings and mounting expectations to strap on our capes and perform like Super-heroes. Research show that when we retrain our brains to take simple and regular breaks, it raises our energy, boosts our mood and gives us needed solace from the constant adrenal overload and over-stimulation of today’s always-on culture.

Here’s how to get them on your calendar:

1) Give yourself permission. 

Guilt is a thing when it comes to self-care and taking me-time. We’re conditioned to think we’ll be less productive, even though brain science tells us the opposite. People who put their own masks on first are much more likely to stay well and do well. 

2) Brainstorm possibilities. 

Create a list of your favorite high impact activities – the little breaks that cue up your brain that it’s me-time.

3) Keep it simple. 

You don’t want to have to create more chaos by including something too complicated that you defeat the purpose. Be intentional about weaving in rituals that naturally fit with the ebb and flow of your day. If you’re already taking a break, focus on relishing the moment and giving your brain some needed respite.

4) Be intentional. 

Identify what helps you find your Zen and give yourself permission to make it a practice. Savor your drink. Breathe the air. Get outside. Protect this time as sacred. Consistency is key.

Want help making a habit of protecting yourself against burnout? Try this book.

Enjoy your well-deserved break rituals. 


  • Dr. Kris

    Behavioral Science Expert. Psychotherapist Comedian. Global Citizen.

    Northeastern University

    Dr. Kristen Lee, Ed.D., LICSW, known as “Dr. Kris”, is an internationally recognized, award-winning behavioral science clinician, researcher, educator, speaker, and comedian from Boston, Massachusetts. As the Lead Faculty for Behavioral Science and Faculty-in-Residence at Northeastern University, Dr. Kris’s research and teaching interests include individual and organizational well-being and resilience, particularly for marginalized and underserved populations.  Dr. Kris works with organizations and leaders around the world on how to use the science of behavioral change and human potential to build healthy mental health cultures that help prevent burnout and promote organizational and human sustainability.  She is the author of RESET: Make the Most of Your Stress, winner of the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Motivational Book of 2015, best-selling Mentalligence: A New Psychology of Thinking-Learn What it Takes to be More Agile, Mindful and Connected in Today’s World and Worth the Risk: Learn to Microdose Bravery to Grow Resilience, Connect More, and Offer Yourself to the World, a 2022 The Next Big Idea Book Club nominee. She is the host of Crackin’ Up: Where Therapy Meets Comedy and is a regular contributor to Psychology Today and Thrive Global. Dr. Kris’s work has been featured at Harvard and on NPR, Fast Company, Forbes, and CBS radio. Her TedX talk, The Risk You Must Take is featured on Ted. In her spare time, she can be found out on the running trails, attempting tricky yoga poses, eating peanut butter cups and drinking kale juice—but not all at once. Connect with her at or @TheRealDrKris (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat).