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It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
It’s time for fun activities, delicious treats, and making memories. Unfortunately, it’s also time for conferences, progress reports, and expanding to-do lists.
No matter what holidays you celebrate, or even if you don’t celebrate at all, the period of time between late October and early January can be a chaotic whirlwind. In the spirit of this festive (and frantic) season, today’s blog post is a tongue-in-cheek SLP holiday wish list—with plenty of real gift ideas and self-care strategies included. Go on, treat yourself!
SLP Holiday Wish List Item #1: A More Comfortable Car to Cry In
Many of us probably remember when the SLP Internet broke after a widely circulated article suggested that SLPs might want to cry in their cars as self-care. The article’s intent was positive, but members of our profession felt frustrated. Is crying in our cars really the best we can do?
I hope not! Although there’s no shame in crying in your car (and if you’re in a position to get one with heated seats to cry in comfort, please go for it!), I want to offer some additional self-care ideas.
We often hear the term “self-care”—so often, in fact, that I know I get numb to it and it feels meaningless. What does self-care actually look like, anyway?
Self-care can mean many things, but here, we’ll focus on self-care that supports our physical comfort in the workplace. A few weeks ago, I heard someone say, “It’s hard to feel kind when we’re uncomfortable,” and that has stayed with me. Isn’t it interesting that our role requires kindness all day, yet we often work in contexts that are pretty uncomfortable? Let’s change that and give ourselves the gift of comfort!
Real-life Ideas: How to be More Comfortable at Work
- Upgrade your desk setup
- Fancy chairs and standing desks are expensive, so I prefer smaller, more affordable adjustments. If you often have back pain, try getting a lumbar support pillow. An ergonomic footrest is another great option. If you’d like to try out a standing desk, but aren’t ready for a big financial investment, a standing desk converter can be helpful.
- Get as cozy as possible
- In the northern hemisphere, at least, many of us get cooler weather at this time of year. Why not embrace it and lean into some coziness? I love a good pair of slipper socks (wear them while you write notes at the end of the day!), or a beautiful throw blanket for the office.
- Keep your warm drinks warm
- Have you ever strolled into work in the morning with a beautiful mug of steaming coffee, set it on your desk, and . . . rediscovered it at 4 PM, still full but definitely not steaming? Me too! But a desktop mug warmer could help us leave this experience behind. Double-check your building policies and be sure to keep it away from little ones—and then enjoy a full day of hot coffee or tea!
SLP Holiday Wish List Item #2: An Office with a Window
It’s the SLP dream: having the ability to look out and actually see the sky! However, for many of us, this is definitely just a dream, as we often find that our offices and treatment rooms are very much window-less.
We need to keep advocating for better treatment spaces, but in the meantime, an office facelift can be a fun and relatively affordable option for supporting our mental health.
Research shows that our environment does impact our quality of life, and that having access to nature is particularly beneficial. This isn’t always easy in SLP settings, but with a little creativity, it’s possible to bring green spaces inside!
Real-life Ideas: Beautify Your Windowless Office
- Coffee table books aren’t just for coffee tables
- I love to incorporate nature with photography books like Let’s Get Lost. As a bonus, photography books make great therapy materials, with opportunities for describing, personal narrative, and asking/answering questions.
- Party backdrops (no party needed!)
- Originally designed as party decor, photo backdrops are an affordable way to bring the outdoors in. Some of my favorites include this wall of leaves, this forest backdrop, and this desert backdrop. They all come in multiple sizes, so you can choose what works best for your setting.
- Removable murals
- If you’re ready to invest in something with more staying power, consider a mural, like this one full of gorgeous monochrome peonies.
- Plants, plants, plants
- A lack of windows can make it tricky to have plants in your treatment room, but fake plants are here to rescue us! They keep getting more and more realistic, and you can find them almost anywhere, including discount stores, wayfair.com, and Terrain (for fancier options).
- Add some light
- It’s easy for a windowless room to have cave-like vibes, which can be a problem because lighting does affect our moods. Try creating your own sunshine with this super-bright floor lamp, or a desktop light therapy lamp.
SLP Holiday Wish List Item #3: An Evaluation Report Writer
Just picture it: you’re at your therapy table, working with a group of students, and your stellar personal assistant is sitting at your desk, writing evaluations and finishing your progress reports.
For most of us, this holiday wish list item will probably always be just that: a wish. Writing will continue to be a major component of our jobs, and we’ll need to figure out how to squeeze it in.
So, if we can’t outsource our report writing, let’s try to make it a bit more pleasant!
Real-Life Ideas: Find Some Fun in All That Writing
- Pens that pop
- If you like to write notes and outlines by hand, new pens can enliven a seemingly mundane task. When I’m in the mood for bright colors, I love Paper Mate Flair pens. If I need to stick with black or blue, I’m a fan of Pilot’s G2 gel pens. They glide smoothly and don’t smudge!
- A change of scenery
- Writing reports might not be as fun as therapy, but it’s often more flexible. Do you have to write in your office? Could you sit outside or go to a coffee shop? If you need to stay in the building, could you buddy up with a colleague who’s also working on administrative tasks?
- Building a template library
- Report templates are the gift that keeps on giving! If it feels overwhelming to create full templates, start small. Create a document with all your test descriptions and diagnosis explanations. Or, create a folder for each broad evaluation category (e.g., language, articulation, did not qualify, etc.), and when you finish a report or come across one that you like, just drag it into the folder so it’s available to use as a reference in the future.
- Banish that blue light
- Research shows that frequent exposure to blue light (from electronic devices) can negatively affect our health.
- Unfortunately, report writing often means increased computer time, so consider putting some blue light blocker glasses on your SLP holiday wish list. I love this dramatic pair for a splurge, and this set for an amazingly affordable deal (and so many color options!). If you wear prescription glasses, sites like Warby Parker and Zenni Optical offer the option to add blue light protection to your lenses.
SLP Holiday Wish List Item #4 Treat Yourself to a Digital SLP® subscription
Last but not least, what’s better to be kind to yourself than streamlining your speech therapy session planning with The Digital SLP® subscription? Spend more time working with your students and less time worrying about your lesson plans. The Digital SLP has an extensive game library focusing on a large array of speech and language skills – games that are great for teletherapy and in-person speech therapy sessions! Sign up for a free 7-day trial to see for yourself or let your loved one gift you a subscription!
I hope this SLP holiday wish list has given you some ideas for how to be kind to yourself during this busy season—and maybe you can even forward the link to someone as a not-so-subtle gift-giving hint!
What’s on your SLP holiday wish list? Please let me know in the comments!