How to Avoid SLP Burnout

6 happy habits to make next year easier (& they’re not what you think!)

avoid SLP burnout

Most school based SLPs will have ten glorious weeks to enjoy the summer. Hmmm…maybe a bit less when we consider the first couple of weeks are needed to recuperate from the past year. 

And maybe the last week is more about prep for going back…Still, seven weeks to recover, refresh, and indulge is a wonderful opportunity! 

How will you use yours? Most importantly, how can you avoid SLP burnout in the first place?

If you are one of those SLPs always on the brink of burnout and tempted to quit your job with regularity during the school year, summer can be a great time to focus on balance. For those who feel like their health suffers during the school year, summer can be a great time to focus on wellness. For those of you who simply want more, summer can be a great time to streamline.

Habits are the key.

Before you roll your eyes and exit, let me say I don’t think long lists of what you “should do” are going to do you any favors. The primary focus of summer should be on rest, not work. 

But…. with intentionality, we can take steps to make next year easier and it starts with creating happy, healthy habits!

6 happy habits to adopt

#1 Gratitude

This is one of my secret weapons. I journal five things I’m grateful for nearly every day and have done so for several years. I usually list something I appreciate about myself as the last item (self esteem is a constant work in progress!). Since you ARE an amazing SLP, go ahead and make one of your items about your job. 

I like to handwrite them in a pretty journal, but if typing suits you better or you’d prefer to speak yours aloud, go for it! I like the option to glance back at things I’ve memorized on occasion and writing or typing them allows me to do that.

To build consistency with this habit, try to do it the same way and around the same time each day. 

(Tip: The time on the clock matters less, strive for the same time period. For example: before bed, after lunch, etc.) 

After you have a few weeks of gratitude down, take a look at some trends. Is there anything on there that you don’t get time to do during the school year? Start brainstorming how to fit that in and what you can let go of.

Now that you’re a bit removed, what are you grateful for (or what do you kind of miss)?

#2 Healthy eating

Healthy eating is frequently on lists of things we wish we were doing better. It can feel overwhelming and too hard. 

Let’s face it though, making sure you have something for lunch is critical if you plan to make it through a full day with energetic students with some energy left. 

SUMMER TIP: find 2-3 easy meals that you don’t mind having on repeat. 

Bonus– if they are something you can prep the night before or over the weekend, even better!! 

I’ve been focusing on getting more calcium. My go-tos lately are yogurt with GrapeNuts and fruit or an arugula salad with almonds, chickpeas, a small scoop of cheese crumbles and two diced, dried figs (I put some balsamic in the bottom of a Tupperware container, pile everything on top and stick it in the fridge the night before, then shake it up before I eat it). 

If this seems unrealistic for you to do every day, find a meal replacement bar that you enjoy. Go back to school with a box or two to keep in your desk in those emergency moments when hunger strikes.

healthy lunch is a habit

#3 Drink water

Water, water, water. It’s so important for our physical and mental health. 

It’s easy to have good days of drinking water and others when it seems impossible to achieve.

Grab one of these huge water bottles with time reminders on the side. Habits are easier when you don’t have to be in charge of the reminder! 

Let the bottle do the work.

#4 Streamline mornings

Morning experiences tend to color much of how the day goes, so maximizing “good” mornings is key. 

I start by checking the weather for the week on Sunday. Then, I organize my outfits for the week in an easy to spot area. Taking away the “what should I wear? decision” makes my life soooooo much easier. 

I don’t spend 10 min looking for pants that it turns out are in the wash or a particular shirt that I was pretty sure was right there. Sometimes I grab something that isn’t in the week’s selections. That’s fine; just knowing there is something there if I oversleep or am in a rush is a gamechanger in my mood. 

SUMMER TIP: photograph any work appropriate outfit you wear to help when August rolls around or any back-to-school items you buy.

Summer is also the time to plan ahead for some of the predictable “special days” or seasonal looks. Figure out a go-to “wacky tacky” outfit. Buy work appropriate pajamas or a new shirt in school colors. Hop on Amazon and grab holiday shirts (they’re cheaper out of season!).

If choosing outfits are easy for you but breakfast is your nemesis, adapt the lunch tips from Habit #1 and streamline your breakfast routine. 

Can you never find your car keys? Right now is when you need to get a key rack or dish and start putting your keys on/in it every time you walk in the house.

If you don’t already set coffee up the night before, now’s the time to get into that habit too.

Like every other habit, streamlining things takes consistency and intentionality. It’s hard but worth it!

#5 Workouts

Working out… is it always on your to-do list but never getting done? Do you actually do it when you have the time? 

Yes, exercising has many benefits, but if you say you want to do something, but then don’t even when you have the time, you need to let it go

Yes, working out is a positive choice, but not if it’s a looming “should do” that keeps making you feel bad. 

Focus instead on finding some kind of movement that you do like (no matter how unathletic you think it is). Some movement is better than none, and you can build on this habit more later.

#6 Actually stopping

Who falls into the “always working” or “working too late” category? I get it. Being an SLP is hard work! 

To be the best SLP you can for your students, you also have to take care of yourself though..and that means STOPPING. 

Very Important Assignment: Set an alarm for every evening that lets you know work is OVER.

Let’s say it’s at 5:30pm. When that alarm goes off, you are going to do something different.

  • Pour a special drink that’s different from your go-to.
  • Walk the dog or let him out, stand out in the yard with him, and take 5 deep breaths.
  • Drop everything to meditate for 5 minutes, or read for 10-15 minutes. 
  • You get the idea. Find something that refreshes you!
  • Then, do not go back to work when you’re done! 

By the time we get to the new school year, you’ll have an established signal that lets your mind know, “work is over.” 

Note to self: respect the signal!

What healthy, happy habits are you working on this summer? I’m working on developing healthy lunches and afternoon snacks (apple and a tablespoon of almond butter is where it’s settling), drinking more water, and post-week journaling.


Can’t bear the thought of getting started during the summer? No worries! Check out my post on Decreasing Stress with a Sunday Checklist (free download included!) for quick tweaks to your weekend routine.

Looking for more information on habits? Check out Atomic Habits by James Clear. 

Have a different area you’re focusing on and need help with ideas? Leave a comment below.

[The links to Atomic Habits and the water bottle are affiliate links through Amazon which means I may earn a small commission if you buy through my link. It does not impact the price you pay. Thank you for supporting my blog!]

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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.