Stress and the SLP: What We Are Trying

It’s no surprise that being an SLP can be stressful. Although this job is portrayed at times as giggles and playing games all day, there are also very real demands of productivity, paperwork and billing.

Are you a stressed out SLP? Stress is really common as SLPs, so here's some things to try to up your relaxation game! #slpeeps #speechtherapy

In fact, we’ve polled our audience online and we’ve found nearly 50% is considering a job change (another SLP job in another setting) and more than 50% of our audience has considered leaving the profession.

So, I’m going to guess that you feel a bit stressed and overwhlemed. In fact, we feel that way too (especially this time of year).

So first this -

Job stress is not your fault. We are posting an episode next month all about digging in to the research about burnout, why it happens, and what to do about it.

Until then - know this. Burnout and stress is caused by:

  1. Unrealistic work demands

  2. Unsupportive, micromanaging or absent bosses

  3. Competing work demands (seeing clients versus paperwork), causing us to choose one over the other at times

If you want the research, check out Episode 39 of the podcast, coming out a few weeks after this blog post goes up.

Until then, what can you do NOW about stress? Knowing that where you work and your demands cause stress, what can we do right now when we come home to reduce stress? Here’s what we are trying, and we are hoping some of these tips can help you, too.

This post contains affiliate links from Amazon.

  1. Reading Fiction

    I love reading nonfiction, particularly books in the business (and sometimes self help) category. But you know what? Those books push me to change myself, and do more and be more productive.

    So reading fiction is especially helpful to reduce stress because it allows you to take a moment to transport yourself into another world. While I haven’t found research specifically stating reading fiction is better than reading nonfiction, I have found a variety of research noting that reading for 20 minutes can reduce stress more than - say, drinking a cup of warm tea - although we enjoy that too.

    For me, I’ve found I need to be protective of what I read. After a day of working with families, reading books with themes of violence or tragedy tends to exacerbate my stress. So here are a few book relaxing books to read during stressful times:

    Me Before You - This is a book and a movie. It did make me cry, but in a lovely way at the end. This book is a sweet love story and a story about life, when things don’t go your way, and what it’s like to love someone going through the most difficult experience of their life - and how love is always worth it anyway. This is book one in a three-book series. The entire series is well worth reading, but book one is my personal favorite.

    Thirteen at Dinner - I’ve been really interested in murder mysteries lately, and find they provide the immersive reading experience I’m looking for. You can find the book here and the well-made BBC TV show adaptations here. I’m looking forward to reading even more this summer!

    This is the first Agatha Christie book I’ve read, and I found it engaging and also hilarious. From the details about Poirot’s narcissistic love of his own mustache to his insightful thoughts about others and the details he picks up - the books certainly provide a richer experience than the shows. That said, the shows feature some great acting and I’ve even convinced my husband (a very picky TV show chooser) to watch a few with me.

    Death Comes to Pemberley- Are you a Pride and Prejudice fan? It’s my favorite book of all time, and this book (not by Austen) as an homage to that book but features a murder mystery that takes place six years after P&P leaves off. This book, written by P.D. James, features the characters you love with a murder mystery thrown in for good measure.

    Want the origional? Try reading (or rereading) the Pride and Prejudice book or watching the 1995 BBC Miniseries (part 1 linked here) or the watch the 2005 version.

    Anne of Green Gables - Although I loved the BBC series of this growing up, it wasn’t until adulthood that I began reading this series. These books aren’t just for the YA crowd - I’d forgotten about the themes of adoption, grief and loss, and life that are reflected in this series. This was a cozy and satisfying read, and I highly recommend reading (or rereading) these books as an adult. Interested in rewatching the BBC series? It’s here. (Matthew is my absolute favorite character in these!)

    What Alice Forgot - Alice wakes up from a gym accident with a head injury, and forgets the last ten years of her life. She remembers being 29 and pregnant and happily married, when in fact she’s 39, has three kids and is about to get divorced. She’s lost years of her own memory and can’t understand what her life has become. This is fun and interesting read, and it is a book that is hard to put down.

  2. Journaling

    Journaling is a researched-backed way to reduce stress and process your thoughts. Recently, when things are super stressful, I’ve been using a journaling technique that has worked well for me:

    First, set a timer for 10-15 minutes and write out whatever is bothering you. Don’t censor yourself, and focus on writing about your emotions and feelings being as descriptive as you’d like.

    Second, set a timer for a second set of time (10-15 minutes) and write out your thoughts about the situation. So that first writing block is just feelings, this one is your thoughts about your feelings. Feel free to write whatever you’d like, but usually by the end of this time, I tend to process a solution or next step to my problem (even if that solution is just letting those feelings and thoughts go).

    I’m a consistent journal writer, and have been since I was eight years old. Because of that, I’ve got strong opinions about my favorite journals: Moleskine, hands down. The blank journal is my journal of choice for my daily journaling, and the dot-to-dot type version is my business and book notes journal I carry with me everywhere. I don’t do bullet journaling per se, but my dot to dot journal is much more colorful and visual than my daily journal.

    3. Yoga

    Yoga is another effective way to reduce stress. I’ve been practicing for ten years and don’t know where I’d be without my beloved yoga practice. Yoga has - hands down - been one of the greatest gifts I’ve given to myself as an adult. If you want to get started, on YouTube I enjoy Yoga with Adrienne, Ekhart Yoga, and Yoga with Cassandra. Yoga has been linked with reduced stress and is a wonderful form of mind-body exercise.

    Craving something more fast paced?

    Research suggests about 30 minutes daily of cardio has been linked with reduced feelings of anxiety and depression. Of course I’m not suggesting this is a cure - but it’s something we may choose to do in order to take better care of our physical and mental health. Cardio and HIIT workouts are my jam when things get stressful, and I find it helps get my mind right. If that’s what you are looking for here are some recommendations: one, and two. Again - just remember you need a cardio element for the anxiety/depression benefits so find something with “cardio” or “hiit” in the title.

    Reducing Stress as an SLP

    Of course, there are many more things we can do to reduce stress as an SLP. For me it is important to only share recommendations when I know there is research behind the stress-relieving technique. These aren’t the only research-backed ideas, but they are some of my favorite.

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    Enjoy This Post?

    If you liked this post, you are going to love tuning in to these podcast episodes focused on stress reduction and workplace issues:

    Becoming an SLP Minimalist and Letting Things Go

    Finding Your SLP Community and Cultivating SLP Friendships

    How to Turn Around Your Toughest SLP Month