Are you wishing away your days until you get to the next break?
Do you struggle to get out of bed each morning because you’re so overwhelmed?
These are just a couple of signs that you are likely on the verge—or dealing with—full-blown burnout.
While it can be super scary to face the reality that you are seriously burnt out from the profession you chose (not for the fame and fortune, but because you wanted to make a difference) and spent so much time and effort to train for, it’s also comforting to know this is common for SLPs, and you CAN recover from it.
I’ve been there.
I struggled with a crazy workload. My weekends and evenings became an extension of my workday. I was buried in paperwork and didn’t see HOW I would ever get caught up, much less get ahead.
Thankfully, I found that I could implement a bit of self-care and make some simple changes to work smarter, not harder, that made all the difference and made me love being an SLP again.
Let’s get you on the road to recovery from your own SLP burnout.
Fill Your Cup So You Have Enough to Give Your Students
Self-care isn’t selfish, and it’s absolutely essential to keep you going throughout the school year. Here are some things to try:
• Exercise: Make exercise a regular part of your day, even if all you have time for on most days is just a walk around the school property. The fresh air and change of scenery does wonders.
• Journal: Every morning, I jot down five things I’m grateful for in my journal. This is a fabulous way to start the day with the right attitude. I also find that getting any stressful thoughts out of my mind and onto paper helps me process them quicker.
• Hydrate: I know, who has time to pee? But, trust me, your body and mind work better when they are properly hydrated.
• Get rid of clutter: Spend time either at the beginning or at the end of your day to tidy up. Your students and YOU will benefit from a less chaotic environment.
• Gratitude box: Make yourself a gratitude box to store meaningful cards or pictures that you can turn to on particularly difficult days. This will help shift your focus back to the reason WHY you’re an SLP and reinforce the difference you make in the lives of your students.
• Create a support system: It can sometimes feel like you’re all alone as an SLP working in schools. Find ways of connecting with other SLPs, whether it’s organizing a monthly lunch with other SLPs working in your district or by joining a professional learning community.
• Commit to a schedule: One way to reinforce boundaries with yourself and others is to commit to a schedule. Not only will it help you focus and be very productive during your workday, but it also helps others respect your time. There will always be more to do, but in most cases, that paperwork you need to complete will wait another day.
• Stop comparing your SLP journey to others: I also found that when I caught myself in the comparison game or thinking of all the things I “should” do because other SLPs were doing them (spend a few minutes on Pinterest, am I right?), it wasn’t productive.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
The other strategy that I found helped me recover from SLP burnout was to work smarter, not harder.
1. Update your planning tools.
I found that when I had a plan for my therapy sessions, they were much more productive and effective. I created a Therapy Planning Workbook, which is available as part of the SLP Now Membership, that can really help overhaul your practice.
2. Evaluate how you’re collecting data.
Take a second to think about how you’re collecting data. What is working? And what is not working? It’s intimidating to think about changing systems in the middle of the year, but the right system could save you so much time and headache! Check out this post for some inspiration!
3. Don’t reinvent the wheel.
4. Connect with other SLPs.
You’re not in this alone! Angie Merced shares fantastic strategies to help SLPs tackle burnout.
I also did a presentation at the SLP Summit where we define SLP burnout and identify the triggers. The presentation included data and feedback from thousands of SLPs!
5. Collaborate with others.
Sometimes working smarter is all about gaining a new perspective. Talk to the teachers in your school or the administrators about challenging cases, and reach out to your own mentors or other SLPs in social network groups or other professional groups you are part of to get insights about how they manage challenging situations that could apply to what you’re dealing with.
A perfect place to get valuable insight from others is at the SLP Summit, a totally free online conference! There’s still time to register, and I think you’d walk away with renewed passion for being an SLP and some practical tips and tricks to help you work smarter.
If you’ve experienced burnout as an SLP, what helped you recover?