The other day I sat down to update my to-do list at work. It kept getting longer and longer. When I sat back and realized how much I had to do, all the kids I had to see, and the deadlines that were looming, I started to feel that panic rise up. This is called stress. It’s a stressful time or circumstance that eventually will pass.
Burnout is a little different.
When you’re burnt out, it becomes more than just a stressful moment or stressful week. It’s when the stress of your job turns into a state of physical and emotional exhaustion. You start feeling cynical and ineffective. You begin to not care anymore. You don’t see your purpose and live in a negative head-space. When you reach this point, something’s got to give. You’d probably agree that it’s best to try to avoid getting to this point.
Today I’m going to share with you 7 ways to help with stress and beat burnout before it starts!
1. Look at the big picture
Take a step back. What’s your purpose (or your “why,” as people are calling it these days) for doing what you do? Remind yourself of this daily. Write it down. Post it where you can see it. It can be one reason or several reasons. Knowing your “why” is important because it can help you stay focused and feel more passionate about your work.
“If you know your why, you’ll figure out the how” – Corey Poirier
Keep mementos or those things that remind you of your purpose and pull them out when you need a boost. Maybe you work to provide for your family. Place family photographs all around your desk. Maybe your students are your passion. Keep the letters and drawings from them. Make a copy of all the “speech graduation” certificates and keep them in a binder. Do anything that will get a smile on your face and motivate you to keep going.
This one is key, and you can look at it 2 ways. First, look at your big picture priorities. What’s really important in your life, friend? Will this stressful circumstance still be an issue a month from now? A year from now? You are more than your job title. You’re part of a family and your family comes first. Make sure they know that. Don’t forget that knowing what your priorities should be and actually making things a priority are different.
Second, it’s also important to prioritize your tasks at work. Don’t spend all your time organizing your desk (#procrastination) when you’ve got a ton of deadlines and paperwork to finish. I usually prioritize my to-do list with what’s due the soonest to what’s due the latest.
3. Short term goals
Sometimes if my paperwork gets backed up or if I have a big task to do, I set short term goals for myself. This way I know the steps that it takes to get it done. So if I have to write 50 progress reports in a week, I might set goals to do 10 per day, for example. Then, celebrate those little accomplishments (like with a chocolate or after-work coffee). It makes my tasks a lot less daunting if I have a clear plan on how I’m getting the things done.
4. Stay organized
How do you keep yourself on track? To do lists? Sticky notes? Fancy planner? Whatever method you use, it’s important to stay consistent with making sure you know what you’ve got to do and when. I feel the most stressed when I realize I forgot to do something that’s due soon. This year, I’ve lived by Google Keep! Check out the screenshot below for how I use it. Also, be sure to follow me on Instagram! I’ll be sharing all the Keep deets in my stories.
5. Simple lesson plans
Friend, let me just say this. Everyday does not have to be Pinterest perfect. Give yourself permission not to be a super therapist ALL the time. When it’s the crazy time of year, go with simple. Print-and-go activities are perfectly fine when there’s no time to plan. These are the perfect times to bring out the iPad apps too.
6. Mindset, attitude, and willpower
There are certain things about your job that you can’t control. This is the part that can be a real problem for some people. The education system is far from perfect… I may venture to say that it’s far from good even. Unfortunately, we still have to work in conditions that are not ideal. More importantly, students have to learn in conditions that are not ideal.
Being able to control your mindset and attitude can be a game changer for handling stress. It’s not easy, y’all. Admittedly, I cannot always do it. BUT, here are a few things we can do to try:
- Have a game plan on how you’ll deal with specific stressful situations
- Take ownership and control over the things you CAN change
- Practice controlling your thoughts and changing your attitude in other areas of life
- Reach out to your online community. As SLPs, we have SO many wonderful resources and communities out there. Don’t hesitate to ask for help!
Sometimes it helps to write down all the hard things about your job. Then, go back and circle the things that you can do something about. It gives you more of a sense of control. Plus, it helps you realize some areas where you might be weak.
7. Treat yo’self
Don’t forget to reward yourself for doing all the hard things! After accomplishing a big goal or getting through stressful stretch, make sure you have something to look forward to. Here are a few suggestions:
- Buy some new bath products
- Go on a solo date (like to Target maybe!)
- Bake some yummy treats
- Try a new fancy coffee
- Go out to dinner with a friend
- Plan a weekend getaway
- Buy some new shoes or a new accessory
- Get a mani/pedi
It definitely helps to have a reward for completing your goals. I love getting a chai tea latte and chocolate hazelnut croissant from CC’s, my local coffee shop if I can check at least 5 things off my to-do list. 🙂
I hope some of these ideas were helpful! I’d love to hear how you handle the job stresses in your life.
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