Being an audiologist or speech-language pathologist can be incredibly rewarding. As clinicians, we get to help people communicate better, safely enjoy their food again, hear their parents or grandchildren, and generally thrive in their lives.
Our work can also cause stress and feel overwhelming at times. And those stressful moments often come from factors out of our control, such as demands from paperwork, productivity and growing caseloads. Sometimes stress even comes from a patient or client not achieving desired outcomes or making progress at the rate we expected, causing us to wonder what we can do better.
These stresses can be enough to make you feel drained, mentally exhausted and constantly worried about your work. When those stressful moments seem to override positive moments, burnout can set in.
So how can you reduce stress around the things you can’t change or control? Try taking a step back, shifting your perspective and retraining your brain to look for what is working, instead of focusing on what isn’t. This approach works wonders for me when I start to feel overwhelmed:
Step 1—Mindful movement
When you feel overwhelmed and stressed, your mind often runs haywire in a spiral of negative thoughts. It makes it difficult to step away from these thoughts and focus on tasks, creating mentally and physically exhausting environment.
To help improve your energy and clear out your thoughts, get up and move away from your workspace. Mindful movement—such as a walk outside, stretching/yoga, or even dancing—can help improve our energy, get blood and breath flowing, and clear our heads. It also helps to pull you out of spiraling thoughts about the past or future and into the present. The movement and focusing on the present allow our brain and body to relax and thoughts flow more freely.
Step 2—Meditation for focus
At the end of the day, we might feel drained from the different roles we play as audiologists or SLPs. Bouncing around from task to task or role to role can fatigue your brain and make it difficult to focus. This makes working efficiently and effectively more challenging. Instead of bouncing around from each task—or multitasking—try concentrating on one thing at a time, for a set amount of time.
Meditation is a great way to start practicing this strategy. When we meditate, our brain focuses on a single thing, which increases awareness and reduces anxiety. Both of these effects also help to improve overall clarity and focus. Try a guided meditation or simply focus on each breath’s inhale and exhale for five minutes.
Step 3—Practice gratitude
This isn’t just for Thanksgiving! Our brains are wired to protect us from incoming threats, such as stress. If something stresses you each day, your brain starts to focus on only those factors and can get stuck in a cycle of looking out for stress, stressing about stress, and finding more stress.
To help break this cycle and focus on more of the good or positive from your day, rewire your brain focus with a brief—but consistent—gratitude practice. Practicing gratitude helps you to notice more of what goes well in our professional lives. You can cultivate a gratitude practice through journaling. Try writing down three positive things or moments that made you smile from your day. This practice will help you to start noticing more and more of the good things. You can do this at the end of your day to end on a positive note, which can improve sleep and helps you to wake up feeling more refreshed and positive about the day to come.
The next time you feel stressed and overwhelmed about the pieces of your work you can’t change, try these steps to feel more restored, grounded and ready to enjoy your work.
Do you have go to strategies that help you defeat stress, create a more positive attitude, or prevent burnout in out hectic world? Please share in the comment section below!
Jessi Andricks, MS, CCC-SLP, is a contract SLP providing services via telepractice, and she coaches hardworking SLPs on how to find more balance in their lives. She’s also a trained integrative health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, a yoga teacher, and author of “Detox 101” and “The Smoothie Life.” firstname.lastname@example.org