Avoiding SLP Burn-Out

Speech therapy is a rewarding job. I have to admit it, though: speech-language pathology can be super, super stressful at times.

I remember a few years back, during a particularly difficult time in my career. I was working in an outpatient setting at the time. I have always been a lifelong learner, and I sometimes go a little crazy in my search for answers. I was reading everything I could find. I was taking ceu courses non-stop. If I couldn’t attend in-person, I was watching online ceu videos non-stop at home.

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I want to give my students (or patients) my all. This is a wonderful thing, but I was putting work life so, so far ahead of my own needs that I wasn’t sleeping. When I did, I started dreaming about work. I would wake up in a panic, remembering things I needed to do that day. Unfinished reports, visual schedules that needed to be created, materials that needed to be laminated and prepped. I was running on fumes. I had zero energy. No amount of coffee was fixing that.

 I was forgetting why I became a Speech-Language Pathologist in the first place.

 During this time, I was also reading all these lovely articles with speech-language pathology coming up high in a list for “careers that aren’t stressful”. MMMkay.

Luckily, my family members made me take a step back and focus on “me”.

That involved getting back to the gym and going on walks. Those brain breaks we make our students take? We need them too.

When I came in the door, I forced myself to “check out” of work mode. It wasn’t easy getting speech therapy off my brain. I needed to do it, though.

 I stopped reading all of the online forums and articles once I’d gotten home from work. I started going to library and checking out “fun” books. My husband and I found some fun shows to watch. I started making more of an effort to eat healthy, real food.

What I learned was this: when I took care of myself, I learned how to be a better speech therapist for my students. We can’t be in work mode 24/7. If you find that you’re starting to feel burned out, take it seriously.

That might mean taking 10 minutes each day to sit quietly somewhere and enjoy your coffee.

It could mean doing a 15 minute yoga session to unwind before or after a crazy day.

It could mean shutting off social media and walking away from your phone or laptop.

Whatever it is, though, make sure to do it: you deserve it.

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