#052: Stress Management Strategies for SLPs

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Today’s guest could not have crossed my path at a more opportune time!

We all are living and working through a major, incredible, historical moment right now. As we work on expanding our minds and re-examining how we exist in the world, it’s a great time to talk about stress management.

(What can I say except… you’re welcome! πŸ™ƒ)

Jessi Andricks, in addition to holding a Masters degree in speech-language pathology from the Medical University of South Carolina and is a yoga teacher and an integrative coach β€” which means that she has a profound understanding of caseload stressors and holistic solutions.

So if you start to feel career resentment creeping in, and burnout is on the horizon, Jessi’s tips can help you to get ahead of it and refocus on what you love about your work (rather than what’s keeping you up at night).

Go ahead and grab your beverage of choice (I’ll have a chai latte!), put your feet up, and listen in.

Key Takeaways + Topics Covered

– How Jessi identified that she was feeling burnt-out in her SLP practice, to reflecting on her path and goals, before landing herself in yoga teacher training
– How Jessi swung completely into the yoga and mind-body fitness world for a few years, and then found a balance point between the two
– When you feel burnout coming, and stress is taking over, you can learn how to recognize the things you love about your work β€” because they’re probably still in there!
– Learning how to tune into your energy levels and manage the different variables
– Setting boundaries between your work and your life, and routines that help you transition out of SLP mode and into human-being-at-home mode
– The goal isn’t to aim for 100% in your life and work every single day β€” that’s a recipe for burnout!

Links Mentioned in the Podcast

JessiAndricks.com
@jessiandricks on Instagram
SLP Stress Management Course (affiliate link)

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Thanks so much!

Transcript

Marisha: Hi there, and welcome to The SLP Now Podcast. I cannot wait to chat with Jessi Andricks today about all things stress management. And before we dive in, just a little bit about Jessi. She earned her master's degree in speech therapy from the Medical University of South Carolina. And she has worked in many settings including teletherapy, which is especially exciting in this time. But she's also a trained integrative coach and yoga teacher. And she also runs a site jessiandricks.com. She's presented at multiple conferences and conventions, and she focuses on helping SLPs reduce burnout and stress through evidence-based stress management tools and techniques. So I cannot wait to learn from her because I could definitely use some of this myself. But before we dive into kind of all the evidence based strategies and good stuff, Jessi, first of all, welcome to the podcast.

Jessi: Thanks. Thanks for having me on today.

Marisha: Yeah. And I'm just really curious to hear about your, because your bio kind of tells a little bit of your story. But I'm curious what that path looked like for you. Where you started out as an SLP and then how you got to the roles that you're playing today. And doing all of these amazing presentations, and courses, and education. I'd love to hear a little bit of how that all evolved and came together.

Jessi: Yeah. It's nowhere that I ever thought that I would be in grad school or undergrad, because I went and got my degree in communication sciences and disorders for undergrad too. So this is never where I imagined, even the teletherapy part because that was not a thing. At least not the way it is now back when I graduated.
So I started out. After I graduated in 2008, which seems not that long ago, but I'm realizing that was forever ago. I worked in probably every setting imaginable within, or at least that was available within three years. And some of it was just circumstances like positions being cut or new things opening up. And then some of it was from feeling really stressed and just assuming okay, this might not be the right setting for me to be in. I'll see what else is around.
But I started out in a skilled nursing facility in a really small rural town in South Carolina. And I loved it, but I knew that I wouldn't be there forever. And I had an opportunity come up at a rural hospital in doing inpatient and outpatient with adults. And if they ever, for some reason had pediatric clients, I would see them as well. So it was kind of like everything. And it was somewhere I had done clinicals at. So I jumped on that opportunity because I thought this was my dream job. And it was amazing. And I am so thankful for that. But it was an hour commute every day from my house.
So that started to take a toll. And that's really where the stress started to build for me. And I started to kind of start to question things and think, "Well, maybe this isn't really my dream job." Or, "What do I do?" But there wasn't anything like it closer to where I lived. So I started to just really feel stuck. And I thought one good thing might be pursuing some hobbies or doing some other things that I really loved. So I started to take yoga classes because I thought you hear yoga and you hear about how wonderful it is for stress, and for managing stress. So I started taking classes. And I didn't necessarily feel the big, super peaceful after class or all my stress was gone. But I thought it looked really cool, and they knew so much stuff. And I wanted to learn how to teach that.
So I ended up doing yoga training while I was also commuting in the other direction, an hour from my house. So for about five months, most days of the week I would be on the road for an hour and a half in each direction. 30 minutes to the yoga training, an hour in the other way.
So physically, the stress was starting to build. Mentally the stress was building, and then my position was actually cut. So it wasn't I got to a point where I was like, "Okay, this is too much. I quit." I kind of was going to stick it out. But it was 2009 I think, 2010. The recession had definitely hit, and it was rural. It was small. So my position was unfortunately cut. They decided they only needed one SLP instead of multiple at the hospital.
So I ended up working in the schools after that, contract, because that was the only thing that was available where I lived. And as much as I love the schools. And my mom, my sister both worked in schools in regular ed, in special ed. So as much as I'd kind of grown up around that, that was definitely the position that after being there for two school years, or pieces of two school years, that's kind of the one that led me to say I'm done.
And I ended up quitting being an SLP for four years. And I quit quit. I would think about going back at first, but I eventually quit. And if someone was, "What do you do?" Meaning did you go to school for something? What type of job do you have? I would never mention that I went to school for speech therapy unless they asked something about it. And instead I taught yoga, because it was the thing I had trained in and I loved it so much. And I just assumed that I had chosen the complete wrong career and spent all of this time, all of this money doing the wrong thing. So I decided I'm going to teach yoga, which is definitely not as full time as being an SLP. Which SLP is over 40 hours a week for a lot of us. And teaching yoga was kind of here and there.
But I dove kind of into that side of things. Teaching yoga classes, training in it, mind body fitness, health coaching. Kind of focusing some on what we're eating but also our stress and the wellness aspects that we don't always focus on.
And I did all of this because I thought this was what I was just so passionate about. But looking back, I can tell that it was what was healing and what was managing the stress that I had been feeling for years and years as an SLP.
And there really wasn't anything specific that happened or some really crazy caseload or anything when I was an SLP that caused me to need to quit. It was just the slow and steady buildup of stress and of the daily schedules, things being either really far away or when I worked from home, having to start very early and kind of end a little bit later in the day. And just all of those little things that we all experience building, and building, and building, and building, until I didn't know what to do except assume that it was the wrong career.
So that's what I ended up doing for four years was ignoring that I had ever been an SLP. And if people ask me what I did, it was just, "I'm a yoga teacher." And that was it. And the only time I'd really ever mentioned that I was an SLP was when people would ask me or they'd kind of say, "You seem smart, why didn't you go to college?" And I would say, "Well, I actually a master's degree. I was a speech therapist for about three years. And then I decided not to do it. It was just the wrong career for me."
I think you can imagine the kind of funny looks I would get from that type of response. It was kind of a, "Oh my gosh, you did that and now you teach yoga." But to me it just made total sense at the time. Yeah, this is what I meant to do.
And then eventually I came back to the field. Things just shifted. I had a baby. The studio was helping run, the owner moved and it was closing. So I just wanted some stability, and I decided I'll give this speech therapy thing a try. And I've been in it ever since in some form, in some way.
And it's been a different perspective for sure. Having taken that time off and trained in these different things. And that has definitely helped me come at it with a different attitude, a different take on it. And also just knowing what I need each day or recognizing that when the stress is building, what is kind of off balance for me or what have I not been doing that is usually really helpful. So it's been kind of a crazy ride since graduating way back in 2008 and getting to where we are now.

Marisha: Wow. What a cool story of. I love that progression. And I think that it's a pretty unique set of experiences I think. Well I don't know, who knows how many SLPs become yoga teachers instead and then come back to the field and do all of the amazing work that you're doing. But that's super interesting. And I think that gives you a really, because you've gotten all of that additional training and just different experience too, that I think is super helpful when helping us figure out how to manage our stress without having to explore all these different career opportunities.
Because I think we choose, there could be a case that speech therapy isn't the ideal career for someone who's listening. But I think a lot of us really love what we do. It's just the stress of all of the different elements that break us down over time. So I'm really excited to dive into those areas with you today.

Jessi: Yeah. And it's so true. When I was going through it, I had decided that I just didn't love it anymore. And I loved, when I decided that this was going to be when I was an undergrad, I actually switched from early childhood education to CSD major. And I didn't know a lot about it, but I was like, "Yeah, want to work at the schools, but I want to do something a little bit different." And then when I found out all that we could do, I was just so excited and just wanted to go to class every day, which is not the case for a lot of people in college. A lot of the time it's like what class can I skip out on? And I was just so excited to learn and loved it.
And then when I was going through it, it was like a total shift in my the way I was thinking about it. I don't have any interest in this. It's just totally the wrong thing. And when you're chronically stressed and eventually it leads to burnout. One of the big kind of hallmark signs of that is kind of apathetic or cynical attitude. And it's exactly what happens a lot of the time when we start to think that way. "Oh, this isn't even working or it's not doing anything. Nobody even knows who we are anyway. We're just the SLP that no one cares about." We kind of get stuck in that spiral of cynicism, that I think it's really easy to get stuck in and then keep feeling that way. And then eventually, if that's all that we can connect to with our career choice and with being an SLP, it's really hard to pull out of that and to not just appreciate what we can do in the field, but find that passion that we used to have or even just the interest that we used to have in it.
And I do think that's why a lot of people feel like, "I must've made the wrong choice or I need to get out of this field." Even though, really somewhere that love of it is still there. It's just been taken over by the stress. So yeah, I think so too. I think that once in a while, you could find someone that really chose the wrong career totally. But a lot of times it's just that stress becoming so overwhelming.

Marisha: That is so fascinating. I love that. And that makes so much sense. If we're in that stressed, burned out place, then we are more apathetic and cynical. And it's easy to convince ourselves that we never loved it in the first place, or that we'll never be able to love it again.

Jessi: Yeah.

Marisha: Yeah. Wow. Okay. So if we're in that stressed out space, where do we even start. How do we start navigating that and what can we do as SLPs to manage that stress?

Jessi: The things that we can do are not anything, I always feel bad at this part. They're not anything all that crazy or mind blowing, or secret. Like here's the secret magic thing to do. It's like the things that we can do are pretty routine, and things that you may already have tried to do.
I went to a course one time that talked about this. It's like knowing something and then actually doing something are two totally different things. We can know how to do something and tell someone all the things to do, all the steps to do, everything about it. But actually doing it, we can't always do.
And it's kind of like we see that sometimes with our students, or patients, or clients we work with. There are times where you may be working on something with a student. Like maybe you're working on a sound and they can tell you all the things that they're supposed to do to make the sound. But then actually doing it and carrying it over into conversation, they get stuck on. So it's like that but with our stress.
So the things that we can do are simple things like mindfulness and awareness. And awareness is really the first, kind of the first step. Just recognizing that you are stressed or recognizing that something is not working for you in your daily routine or in your work. And being aware of how you're moving through your day, or how your day is kind of affecting you, or certain things that might be triggering you. Even if you don't do anything about them, but you're just aware that it's happening, that can help you start to make that shift to manage the stress.
So really, awareness is the first thing. Just kind of thinking about your day or thinking about what's going on, why am I so stressed? When do I get stressed during the day? And trying to pinpoint some of the things that might be, and sometimes it's really easy. It might be the pile of paperwork that you have or the crazy caseload. But being able to kind of see okay, how is this affecting me? How am I reacting when it's time to figure out when to do my paperwork? Or how am I feeling when I have more patients or students added to my caseload, and what is that triggering?
And then when we go to actually manage it and do something about it, it's using the tools of mindfulness and stress management. So taking time. A lot of it is just taking time for yourself. So organizing things and planning things are awesome. And I mean they definitely help. Because if you're completely, things are just unmanageable with the paperwork that you're doing, with the billing you're doing, with the caseload you're doing, then of course you're going to be stressed. So having things to help with that absolutely helps. But then having things that just help you personally. Like noticing what your energy levels are during the day, and if you need some time between sessions to kind of regroup. Or if you need to switch around the students that you're seeing to meet if you have high energy students maybe, and you're seeing them in the afternoon when you're feeling really drained. That might not work out so well. Or just knowing do you need something to help you transition from work to home so that you can get your head more clear where you're not thinking about work all the time when you're at home.
I find that happens to me a lot. I was not someone that would bring work, physically bring it home ever. Some of that, it sounds really good. That makes it sound like I was super organized. But I think it was more that burnout. "I'm not going to take this home. No way. I'm going to ignore it. I'll deal with it another time." But in my head mentally, I was still thinking about, "What am I going to do with this person? Oh my gosh, I have this thing to do tomorrow. I don't know what activity to do." It was just thinking about it or if I had a really hard meeting, just kind of replaying things all the time where I didn't get that head space.
So having something that you can do to help you say, "Okay, work is done. Let me shift shift my mind into being at home and letting work go so I could be present while I'm at home." And sometimes it's just having a buffer at the beginning of your day or at the end of your day. And I think this is really important when you're working from home, which a lot of us are right now, are doing teletherapy. Because if your space is in your home, then it's really hard to leave work sometimes. And you kind of feel like you can work right up to the end of the day and just step out of your office and into your home. But without having those little buffers that give you some downtime to yourself to regroup and to just check in and see how you're doing, it can make that stress grow.
And those things sound really simple. But I think when we look at our day, we usually aren't doing them. Those are the things that we cut when we're feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Those are the things that we're like, "Okay, I don't need these. I can just get rid of that and just focus on the work instead." And I think that does happen a lot. I know that happened for me a lot. If someone asked me to take on more students, even if I knew I could say no, I'd just say yes. But then my extra time during my day would get cut, and then I'd feel stressed. So it's that kind of cycle we get stuck in a lot.

Marisha: Yeah. Those are such great tips. So many good things that we can do. Okay. So a couple of things that were really interesting. I love that you mentioned the energy levels. And then just being strategic with how we set up our sessions and our schedule. And I know we sometimes, we feel like we don't have a lot of space to make that happen. But I think just one shift can change your whole day, I feel like that's super powerful.
I love what you mentioned about transitioning from work to home, and how we might be bringing our work home mentally and not just physically bringing home reports to write. But if we're replaying the day and just mentally being focused on work even while we're at home and not being present. And I'm curious, because you mentioned having a buffer at the beginning or end of the day. But what does that look like? What has worked for you or what have you seen other SLPs do to navigate that?

Jessi: Yeah. So for the buffer, I kind of like to think of it as you can start really small and then you can build it out a little bit. So a little buffer would be just making sure that you have time before you actually have to start work, and you have time after you actually finish to just settle in or to just kind of get ready to head home and kind of have a transition there of some kind. So you could have, and again I think this is really important when you're working from home too.
But let's say that you know you have to be at work at 8:00 AM. Or you have to be at work at, that's when if you're working in the school, that's when your first student's going to walk in, or it's 8:30.
Planning some time before that. And if you can, before your student just to settle in and check in with yourself, and see how you're doing when you arrive. And if you're working from home in teletherapy, one of the things that's really awesome is that there's no commute. So sometimes it's like your first student starts at 8:30, you walk in and turn on your computer at 8:25, and you start.
And that kind of sounds like almost lazy, but it's not lazy. It's kind of just like there can be so many other things going on at home and without that commute where you're having to get out the door. Sometimes you kind of give yourself, "Well I need a few minutes." So it's okay.
But giving yourself time to settle in. And if you're eventually in an office or a classroom somewhere and you physically are just sitting at your desk. Give yourself time to check in. And just do a mental check in. See how you're feeling, notice how your breath is. If it's nice, and calm, and steady. If it feels short, if you feel a lot of tension in your body that's going to build up or letting you know that maybe you're holding onto some stress. But just kind of checking in.
And then at the end of the day, planning time beyond just the end of the day wrap up where you might be finishing your billing or planning and prepping for the next day. But giving yourself time to just kind of regroup. And again, check in and notice if you're really drained, do you just need maybe five minutes extra before you head out the door and before you start work again to just sit and breathe for a few minutes? Or to listen to your favorite song, or to do something that doesn't have to do with work and that gives you a moment. Almost like a little mini break to just shift out of work mode and to give yourself something for you.
And this could extend into a full blown morning or evening routine. If you wanted to really set up your whole morning, you could maybe start the day by giving yourself some time to again, check in right when you wake up.
And one thing I had someone say to me one time was that you don't have to aim for 100% every day. You don't have to show up 100% every day, because it's impossible. So if you check in with yourself, you can see when you wake up, am I feeling 100% percent or am I feeling at 40 today? And I think right now with everything that's going on in the world, we're probably not at 100%. And a lot of times we may be at the lower end. But knowing that okay, if I am not 100% and I expect myself to be, I'm going to be let down, I'm going to be stressed, I'm going to be frustrated. But if I know that this is where I am today and I'm going to do the best with that, then you kind of set your day up from there. And know that you may have some struggles, and that's okay.
And you could even do some movement of some kind to start your day just to kind of feel like you've done something good for yourself. You could do meditation, which is really great for your brain, but also really great for reducing the stress response that gets triggered in our brain and in our body. And you can even do some kind of journaling like setting your intention for the day or setting goals for the day. And those could be woven into a bigger morning routine. And of course a cup of coffee if you need it.
And then in the evening, you could do things that kind of help you wind down. So it could be right at the end of your workday. Maybe instead of just that little buffer, maybe you have something like you go outside for a walk if you're able to. Or you get up and move a little bit if you've been sitting at your desk all day. But you can take a little more time if you have it.
And then if you wanted some kind of end of the evening routine to help you wind down, you could again, kind of stretch out a little bit. If you've been sitting at a desk all day, you might feel kind of tense in your shoulders, your back, your neck. Or you could do a meditation that just kind of helps you to unwind so that you sleep better.
Or even a journaling practice. There's two that are really good in the evening. One is called a brain dump where you just, any thoughts that might be stuck in your head replaying from the day, you just put them down on paper so that they can live somewhere else instead of just being in your thoughts. And then a gratitude journal, which helps you end your day on a positive note, remembering three things from your day that you are grateful for or that went well. Or that you can just kind of highlight as little positive moments from your day. And that can help you end your day or your work day on a positive note.
So again, they're not huge. Oh my gosh, this is the big thing I've been waiting to hear. This big secret about managing stress or about setting up my day. But there are things that we may not actually be doing. Like we've heard of doing or we've kind of played with here and there. But to actually get into a routine of doing them and creating your day around those can really start to make some big shifts.

Marisha: Yeah. And I couldn't agree more and I feel it's easy to be like, "Well, I've tried it or that sounds silly. That's not going to change anything for me. I have all of these big issues that I'm dealing with."
But just a personal experience share. I think everyone has struggled with a little bit during, or is still struggling with just the recent changes. And I don't know, just quarantining, and social distancing, and all of that. And I feel like my morning routine especially was, I would wake up and just feel, I don't know. I did not feel very good. But I had a morning routine. And I've been working on it for a long time. But I feel like that's what kept me sane and saved me. I was very intentional with what I added to the routine. And there are things that I know set me up for success and helped me feel good. I do the meditation, the journal, coffee. I did add exercise and stuff. But I feel like after going through that routine, and you can make it as short as long as you want. But after going through that, I felt like a whole new person which allowed me to show up and do all the things that I do during my day and have fun doing it. So yeah, I think it's incredibly powerful.

Jessi: Yeah. I feel the same with the morning routine. With everything, mine kind of got thrown off. And then I have a baby. He's not even a year old yet, so that totally was already thrown off morning routine wise. But it used to be my husband would take my daughter to school in the mornings, and I have time before work to get ready and get kind of settled, and have my morning routine. And even with the baby, that was still kind of the case. And then when all of this happened, everyone's at home.
So at first it was really awesome because it was, "We don't have to have any kind of morning routine, we can just kind of go with it." But then I realized I missed that. The same thing. I missed that start to my day where I felt like I was taking charge of the day, or that I was energizing for the day instead of the day kind of taking charge and overwhelming me right from the spot. So instead of hitting the ground running and running out of steam right away, having that morning routine and slowly easing into my day was something that I really needed. And me personally, I'm still slowly building back into that. and every little bit is definitely helpful.
And I think that's something too. We don't have to make huge shifts right away. But like you said, just those little changes and adding things back in and really tweaking things, or slowly putting them into practice can really, really help. So it doesn't mean that you have to go out and get this huge morning routine now, and then do this big process in the evening. But if you just wake up, give yourself five or 10 minutes in the morning. Or if there's something that you usually do that you don't have to do and you can make a swap, and you sit, and you journal, and you write out your intentions for the day. Not a to do list, but what you want to get from the day or how you want to be from the day, or whatever it might be. Or you sit and you do a meditation, or you just sit and you have a hot cup of coffee with no interruptions for a little bit. Just this kind of moment of Zen and meditation in kind of a totally different way. That can really shift your whole day.
And for me, again personally for me with little ones at home right now. Getting up, and one morning routine thing that definitely has a shift for me is getting dressed before they are up is a huge shift. Because otherwise, it's like that one little action sets up the day totally differently. But if I don't do that, then I feel like I'm behind on doing anything with them and getting anything done throughout the day.
So it can be really small stuff, but these small things can make big shifts or they can slowly build into more and more things that you can do that really help. But yeah, and just kind of figuring out what works for you and knowing it doesn't have to be perfect, and doesn't have to be a huge thing, can help.

Marisha: Yeah. I love that. And that's totally actionable and doable. Just starting with one minute of just even thinking before we get out of bed potentially. Just what's my intention for today? There's little tiny things that we can add on. And I feel like once, if we pick something that's really easy and really doable, it's easy to add on to that over time, which is really cool.

Jessi: Yeah. Little mindful moments throughout the day.

Marisha: Yeah. And then I love the ideas of, just I think setting ourselves up for success with kind of more of the routine based things. And I think that helps us manage when the crazy things come up. But do you have any? Because I feel like sometimes we're just kind of in crisis mode. Do you have any suggestions for when we're, if something really crazy happens. If we, I don't know. Progress reports are due for example. Or we just find out that they're adding 15 kids to our caseload or whatever. When those really stressful things come up, do you have any strategies for that in the moment?

Jessi: Yeah, absolutely. And it is true that some of the things would not be, if you have a crazy IEP meeting whether you're at home or it's something that you've experienced when you were able to go to the schools. Or if next year if your school is going back and you're in a meeting. There are some things that would be really, you're not going to just stand up and start walking around in a meeting and being, "Oh well I'm trying to reduce my stress." That would not be okay. And slipping into a full blown meditation. Closing your eyes in the middle of a meeting does not always work. So there are definitely things that you would do outside.
But there are things you can do. Like if you know that something stressful is coming up like a meeting or progress report time. You can build in some, really it's self care. What it boils down to, that word is so trendy and sometimes almost kind of overused. But being mindful of what you need. So really focusing on your self-care at those times. If you know that something's going to be really stressful like progress report time, make sure that you have in your calendar or maybe set a reminder or something, some things that you can do for yourself that are not related to work. Something that you can do that's going to help you check in with yourself, that's going to help you see how you're doing and then will help you feel better in the long run.
And those are the things that we tend to cut a lot of the times when we're so stressed. We have so much work we need to do. I'm just not going to go for a walk today. Or I'm just not going to take a lunch break today and eat my lunch. I'm just going to totally cut that out of my day and just scarf something down really quick and keep going.
But giving yourself breaks and giving yourself time to get up and move, time to check in. Those are all even more important during those times that are kind of crazy.
And if it's something like a meeting. If you have one where you just know that it's going to be one of those really, really stressful meetings. Preparing yourself beforehand. So not just giving yourself time before, but maybe taking, doing a meditation where you do some deep breaths and you try and kind of find that little bit of calm before you go in. So you're more grounded, you're more steady, and you're not feeling as anxious or stressed where you're able to really think more clearly and process things more clearly. That can help in that.
And then when it's those times where you go into work and you think you know how the day's going to be. And then you get an email that's like, "Hey, you have five more students. And I know you're already full and you have no room for these, but schedule them." When it's something like that where it's just you don't even know what to do. Taking time to just be aware and just say, "Okay, how am I feeling?" Of course I'm feeling this way. It's okay for this to be stressful. And then remember that it's not going to be this way forever. That this in this moment is stressful. But not just that it'll pass, but that there are things you can do for the stress. So yes, this is stressful. But I can take a few deep breaths. I can try and problem solve through this. But before I problem solve, I've got to get that stress managed so that I can fully focus on it and I can fully think through it.
Because one of the things that stress does is not only, sometimes when it's leaning towards burnout gives us that cynical attitude. But when we have the stress response triggered in our brain, it kind of takes over. And the parts of our brain that like to process things, and problem solve, and think things through, and give us these really clear steps on what to do our overwritten. And that's why when you're really stressed, it's so hard to think and to figure out what to do next. So when we're in that state for so long, that's why we feel like we just can't figure out what to do.
So when you have things, knowing that it's stressful but then taking a few deep breaths or going out for, taking a break. Maybe getting up and getting some fresh air or doing some stretches next to your desk or whatever it might be, to give you a moment. So that when you're ready to dive into it and figure out what to do, you can do it. And again, knowing that it doesn't have to be perfect and it might be really messy. But that's okay and it's not always going to be that way.
So when we manage our stress, it doesn't mean that stress will be gone or that we won't ever be affected by it. It's that we are a little bit more resilient to it. Or when we realize that we are not resilient to it and we are totally weighed down. We can figure out, and we know we have tools of what to do or how to check in and see what is not going right for me right now and what can I do to better manage this?

Marisha: Yeah. I love that distinction though. Because I don't know, I think life in general is just, there are going to be hard things. And then especially at SLPs, there will be hard things.
Because I think that perspective is really helpful. Because if we're expecting perfection, if we're expecting to love every minute and just be completely stress-free and zen, and just totally loving it all the time. Then when those things come up, I think that's even more stressful. But if we kind of expect, like sometimes it will be stressful and that's okay.

Jessi: Yeah.

Marisha: It's really helpful.

Jessi: And I think it's really hard for us as SLPs because we tend to be perfectionists. Whether it's a good thing or not. It's just how, and I always wonder if that's why we get into the field or if the process of going through grad school kind of turns us into perfectionists. But it happens. So we want to do everything. We want to do a great job. We want to be the best that we can be. We want to get everything done, and do it well, and be productive, and then that can cause so much stress.
But just knowing that it doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't mean it's going to be bad if it's not perfect. And knowing that handling our stress that life, all of that is not going to be perfect. That there will be ups and downs, but that we can do things about it even when it is really hard. Or that if it is really hard, it doesn't have to stay that way forever.
And when I talk about balance, there's always this debate about work life balance and how, does it really exist? Is it really even possible? And I kind of like to think about it as more it doesn't mean that it has to be perfect all the time. There'll be times when work takes over and is kind of more of what you're doing. But there'll also be times when life takes over and you're more focused on that. And it's kind of just letting it swing from each side, but knowing that you're not going to be stuck in one forever. And that when you need to, there'll be times when we really do need to focus on work and let that be a bigger part of our life. But knowing what to do to get back to bringing in the other aspects as well. And then when life takes over. And things from home, we start to kind of let those take over and focus less on work, knowing how to bring it back to the center from there too. I kind of think that's kind of where all that balance with our stress and just with all of it comes to. If that made any sense at all.

Marisha: No, that makes a lot of sense. And it's just like it's okay if it's a little bit more towards one or the other sometimes. We'll figure it out. Yeah. No, that's great.
And then I was curious too. You mentioned when we're managing those really stressful events, you talked about finding things that help you feel better in the long run. Which I think is really important. So you mentioned going for a walk, taking a lunch break. What would be on your list of things that, just some other brainstorming for things that might help us feel better in the long run.

Jessi: Yeah. So anything that really helps you tune in or check into how you're doing. So there is definitely when we think of self-care, there's definitely kind of the joke, but it's also because we're actually doing it of binge watching things. Binging Netflix, or really just binging. Drinking a whole bottle of wine every night just to get through. You like to process the day to make it to the next day. Or watching an entire season of something in one day.
So knowing that that is not going to be what gets you through for the long run. That is definitely what's going to get you through in short term. Because that makes you check out. It gives you a break where you don't have to think about anything. You don't have to think about any of the stress you've experienced or any of the work that you feel like you should be doing, or any of it. It's a total checkout where you just sit on your couch, turn on Netflix, and that's what you've got. And that's it for the evening.
And that is totally okay sometimes. Because we have those days where you're just so mentally exhausted that you cannot process or think about anything. And it's just like you have no energy to do anything else.
But you don't want to be that way every day. It's not sustainable. I don't think anybody would want to feel that way that drained at the end of every single day. So checking in and doing something that helps you feel good.
So for me, I know that if I don't get up and move, and have some sort of not necessarily exercise. I mean it is exercise, but some sort of a movement practice or mindful movement throughout my day. Whether I go on a walk outside, we've been doing that a lot just because there's not a lot else to do. And we're fortunate enough to live in a really quiet neighborhood with a lot of green space. So going out and taking a walk every day is something that if I don't do that, I really miss it. Because it kind of just gives me this, whether it's at the start of the day, it gives me a really nice kind of way to ease into the day. And if it's at the end of our day or after dinner, it's a nice way to close everything out.
I also really enjoy yoga. That is an important type of movement for me because it helps me breathe deeper. I always feel like it kind of resets my stress for me, and I feel better after. But I know that for some people, movement is not, they don't feel good when they do it. Or it's just not the thing that they crave. So it could be journaling, it could be that you'd like to get into the creative process and create something.
A lot of people like to bake for stress. Which I love baking, so I totally get that. But there are people that really like to create something like that. Or a lot of people that do knitting as their kind of mindful thing for the day.
But doing something that you can sit and maybe have some time to yourself, or have somewhere that you can focus on yourself while you're doing it and really see what do I need, how am I actually doing?
And it doesn't mean that it'll always be really easy. Sitting and meditating can be really nice, but it could also be really hard because you may actually notice I'm feeling really stressed today and I don't like the way this feels in my body. I don't like the thoughts that I'm having with it. I really wish I could just ignore this instead.
Getting up and moving can be the same thing. You might start to notice that you just feel really stiff from the day and you really don't like the way that feels. But knowing that sometimes it'll be hard. But overall, it will help you and kind of keep you going and keep you able to really connect to the work you're doing, and stay connected to your day, and not be as overwhelmed by the things that are stressful that happen during the day.

Marisha: Yeah, that's perfect. And I love that distinction between things that help us feel better in the short term versus the long term. And that it's not always easy to do the things that help us feel better in the longterm.

Jessi: Yeah, it's so true. And I never want someone to think that I don't watch Netflix, because I definitely do. I always think that. I never want anyone to think that I'm against it. I totally watch something every night, but it's not my self-care. And then the times where it does become my self-care, then I know just from my own experiences and from everything that I've learned. That's kind of one of the things that for me it's okay, if I've been leaning on this a little bit too much, then it's when I know something's out of balance and I need to get back to the things that are actually going to work and actually help me manage my stress and not hide from it.

Marisha: Love it. Super helpful. And then I think we have time for one last question. But a lot of us, and you touched on this already a little bit. But maybe just recapping some strategies and adding any additional ones if you have them. But a lot of us are working from home. And I'm curious what strategies you have to navigate that. You mentioned having a buffer. But what else do you think would help just in this particular situation?

Jessi: It's crazy working from home when you signed up for it. And you went into teletherapy and you've been kind of trained and ready for it. It's even crazier now when you're thrown into it, and you also have a lot of possibly other people at your house, and family members while you're doing it.
So a few things that are helpful are having those buffers for sure. Giving yourself time to start your day and something, to give yourself time to plan and prep at the end of your day for sure. But then have that transition of sorts, something you do that's just for you, that helps your brain know, "Okay, work is done. I don't need to think about it anymore. I'm physically stepping out of this office, but I'm also mentally stepping out and I'm going to be home now."
But giving yourself breaks. It's really easy when you're working from home to sit at your desk for eight hours. Because we forget to get up a lot of the time, or we try and cram everything in scheduled back to back sessions. But giving yourself time to move.
And it doesn't have to be that you go for an hour long or even 10 minute walk. You could just do a few stretches at your desk in between sessions while you're waiting for someone to log in. Or I've been doing this, but I keep a yoga mat unrolled where no one could see me if I had to get on the computer. It's nowhere near, but it's in my office. And I actually started doing that because the therapist I worked with told me that that was kind of her trick that she would do is she would just have it. And then go and do a few stretches in between sessions while she had two minutes. And that those little two minutes throughout her day really helped her feel better.
And making sure you have time to get up and go grab water, or coffee, or a snack if you need it. And have some sort of a lunch break. That is super important, to give yourself that time to actually eat and reenergize. But also to let your brain have a break, let your body have a break from sitting.
And if you can, if you're starting to create your whole schedule from scratch, batching your day around your energy. So if you know in the morning you're more energized. Maybe that's when you have most of your sessions where you really need to be on and really, really fully, fully engaged. And if you're feeling a little bit more drained towards the afternoons, maybe saving that for some of the time that you do quieter planning prep, or quieter sessions, kind of less energized sessions. Planning your day around that and making sure that you take breaks throughout the morning and throughout the afternoon, not just a lunch break. That can really help.
And of course that's ideal, right? That's ideal stuff. But like we mentioned before, just doing as much as you can or doing a few, planning some small shifts in your day can really, really start to build and help you get to where you need to be, where you can sustain this and keep going with it.

Marisha: Yeah. And I love how you keep reminding us of that because you definitely know who's listening inaudible then it's like okay. Okay so I'm planning this out, but I'm wanting to do all of the things. And I can't do all the things, so I'm not going to do any of it. I love the reminder that just a little shift. So if it's, I don't know, making sure that you have water at your desk. Could even be a start.

Jessi: Yeah.

Marisha: Making sure to take a sip in between sessions.

Jessi: Absolutely. Absolutely. And then you start to feel better. So then you want to keep going with the things that make you feel good. And you end up finding more time for them. Yeah, absolutely.

Marisha: Awesome. Okay, well this was super helpful. I love all of these ideas and strategies. And just realistic, you're very real about it in terms of this would be wonderful to do all the things,. But we can start small and take small steps towards just feeling better. Because I don't think any of us want to feel stressed. So I love just the realistic approach. That's super helpful.

Jessi: Thank you.

Marisha: And if people want to find out more about what you do. They got some good strategies but they're still feeling like they want to learn more or just have additional information. Where can they find out more about what you do, where can they connect with you?

Jessi: Yeah. So you can connect with me definitely on Instagram @jessiandricks. And on my site jessiandricks.com where you can find podcast episodes, blog posts, and the subscriber free resource bank called the SLP toolbox with meditations that you can download. Movement audio you can download, some journal templates, just kind of all the little goodies that help you throughout your day to reduce your stress. And if you're really looking to dive into this, you can also check out the online course SLP Stress Management that you can find at jessiandricks.com

Marisha: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for sharing your time with us. And yeah, definitely walking away with tons of helpful strategies. And yeah if you want to, I'll share links to all of the things that you mentioned today like your Instagram and your site, and the course, all that good stuff in the show notes at slpnow.com/53. Or you can just go, if you're listening, you can go straight to jessiandricks.com. So it's J-E-S-S-I A-N-D-R-I-C-K-S. And yeah, that's all we've got. That's a wrap. Thank you.

Jessi: Thank you.

 

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Hi there! I'm Marisha. I am a school-based SLP who is all about working smarter, not harder. I created the SLP Now Membership and love sharing tips and tricks to help you save time so you can focus on what matters most--your students AND yourself.

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