Decrease stress with a Sunday checklist

Decreasing stress with a Sunday checklist habit.

SLPs have always had a stressful job and the past year has added to the issue. Taking five minutes to look over your Sunday checklist can decrease your stress.

I love the feeling of starting Monday morning with a clear list of to-dos and activities planned and printed for all of my students. I just wish it happened more often.

But even when I’m barely keeping my head above water, I can take 5 minutes on Sunday to mentally prepare for the week and decrease my stress with a Sunday checklist. That quick pause does just as much for my sanity. Mindset is everything.

Sunday checklist to decrease stress

Weekly commitments

First, I take a look at what’s on the calendar for the week ahead.  I make sure there aren’t any “big” surprises like meetings or house maintenance items, even fun activities that might cut into planning or my downtime (I lean way into the introvert scale, so I need to keep social gatherings in mind when I schedule too).

Then I see if there is one to-do item or commitment I can decline.  This doesn’t mean postpone! When we look at our calendar and task list there is almost always one item that can just…disappear.

Next, I add it an item that will feed me better. This might be setting aside time to read, meet my husband out for a glass of wine or scheduling a walk with a friend.

Gratitude

I do this every day of the week, but if you’re just getting started, even once a week will pay dividends. List five things you’re grateful for. They can big or tiny, it doesn’t matter. I always give thanks for my family and dogs, but I’m also thankful for mystery books, our home, having a career I love, my new shoes, a fridge full of food, hot water, walking trails…the list goes on and on.

While I’ve done this for years, in the past several months I’ve made a point to have one of my items be specifically about me. I’ve had a lot of transitions recently and was feeling on shaky ground, highlighting characteristics I love about myself has gone a long way in rebuilding my confidence. I’m grateful for my determination, my open heart, the color of my eyes, my commitment to personal growth, how quickly I read…you get the picture.

Movement

I’m a dedicated walker and I also love to dance. (Lately I’ve been doing Zumba and Pound classes.) My schedule doesn’t always allow for a consistent work-out time so I need to be sure there’s time almost every day to get some movement in. Movement is a non-negotiable for me. (When I’m fussy, my husband always asks, “Do you need to be walked?” Yes, actually I do.)

Connection

This was one of my weakest areas when my children were small. It always seemed like the easiest place to cut (see introvert comment above). While I spend lots of time with my husband, I didn’t always make time for friends. These days I make sure there’s time set aside to call my sister, Zoom a drink with a distant friend or meet someone for coffee.

Meal Planning

Lunch is the toughest meal for me.  While I generally make healthy choices throughout the day, I’m most likely to make a poor decision here. It’s because I don’t always plan for it. I’m a morning person, so going into my natural afternoon lull either hungry or full on snacks doesn’t help my energy. A minute to plan goes a long way here.

Celebrate

My dad was a master at celebrations—a new apartment, quitting a job you hated, finishing the school year, or simply being together—he’d recognize them all. I made sure this was a habit in our family too. Doesn’t take more than a toast and a quick clink of water glasses at dinner. Everyone loves the recognition (and it feeds right back to our gratitude habit too).

Affirmation

We listen to the soundtrack in our head more than anything else and we can choose what we play. Make it something positive. Make it something helpful.

Helpful? What else would you add? I have a daily meditation/breathing practice too. Interest in hearing more about this, how to incorporate it into your speech sessions or other ideas for decreasing stress? Comment below.

Taking 5 minutes on Sunday can decrease your stress for the entire week.
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The views expressed in this blog are my own and are intended to inspire other speech-language pathologists in their own practice. If you are a parent, teacher or other educator, these ideas are not intended to take the place of treatment by a certified clinician. Read full disclaimer here.