Hearing Matters Podcast

7 Stress-Busting Strategies for Hearing Care Providers

June 10, 2023 Hearing Matters
Hearing Matters Podcast
7 Stress-Busting Strategies for Hearing Care Providers
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Feeling the weight of stress as a hearing care provider or audiology and speech-language pathology student? It's time to prioritize your well-being and make your health a top priority. In celebration of Men's Health Month, we share our personal experiences and discuss the importance of self-care and stress management in the hearing healthcare field. Discover seven steps to manage stress and improve your overall well-being, from getting adequate sleep and exercise to incorporating life hacks like morning sunlight and proper hydration.

Join us as we discuss the importance of hard work without sacrificing your health, and learn how to practice mindfulness and self-care in your daily life. We'll explore the effects of alcohol on sleep, the dangers of sleep deprivation, and the benefits of morning workouts and walks. Plus, we share life hacks for managing stress, such as getting morning sunlight, delaying caffeine intake, and staying properly hydrated. Tune in for an informative and insightful conversation on how to take charge of your mental and physical health as a hearing care provider or student.

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Blaise Delfino:

You're tuned in to the Hearing Matters podcast, this show that discusses hearing technology best practices and a growing national epidemic hearing loss. Before we kick this episode off, a special thank you to our partners Cycle, built for the entire hearing care practice. Weave, the all-in-one patient communication and engagement platform. Redux Faster, drier, smarter. Verified Fader plugs The world's first custom adjustable ear plug. Welcome back to another Hearing Matters podcast episode and hoping everyone had a wonderful week. You're tuned in. Right now It is a Saturday morning and I will tell you this week has been incredibly busy, but thank you for your patience with us releasing this episode a little bit later in the week And, who knows, maybe Saturday is the day that we start releasing episodes, because we understand how busy it is for everyone during the week. You might be catching up with the latest Hearing Matters podcast on the weekend. Who knows? if that is the case, head on over to Instagram and let us know when do you want us to release episodes? During the next 25 minutes or so, we're going to discuss seven steps to manage stress as a hearing care provider and audiology speech language pathology student. So be sure to pay attention and stick around for the last step, because it is just as important as the first, because we talk about stress. It's important to note that June is men's health month. Now why is men's health month so important? Here's a few reasons. Number one if you're stressing about a symptom, let's say a busted knee, a persistent headache, it can be easy to get in a cycle of worrying about it. Let's be real here, we've all been there. But going to the doctor can do two incredible things. One, it can figure out what's wrong. But two, it can keep you from worrying. And those thoughts, of those ruminating thoughts, really do trigger that anxiety and stress them. So men's health month encourages you to get yourself checked out so you can feel better and stop worrying. Number two men's health month gets people talking about health, which gets people acting about health. So gyms get joined, appointments get made and resolutions get promised. It's really a beautiful thing. And number three lots of things that are good for your body are also good for your soul. So, men, go out, play some golf, get a massage, take an extra long nap. It's all healthy. And if anyone asks the occasion, you've got an answer out there ready. It's men's health month. So here is a hearing health care fact specific to men. Men are almost twice as likely as women to have hearing loss among adults aged 20 to 69. And I find this statistic to be really interesting and I reflected back on the patients that I saw when I was practicing full time at audiology services and the majority of my case load was men. And how fitting for men's health month. So if you're tuned in and your father might be displaying signs of hearing loss, just encourage him, get his hearing checked. Because we all get our eyes checked and our teeth cleaned. It's really important to get our hearing screened. All right, the word we all know stress. As defined by the World Health Organization, stress can be defined as a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation. Stress is a natural human response that prompts us to address challenges and threats in our lives. Everyone experiences stress to some degree. Reading this definition kind of brought me back and got me thinking about the hunter-gatherer times. Okay, so do you think really think about this? do you think that the hunter-gatherers had more stress than us? Again, do you think that the hunter-gatherers had more stress than us today? Fsh-caffeinated— screen-timed individuals Do you think they had more stress? No, the answer is definitely no, the only stress that they had was hunting. During hunting, am I going to be able to get enough food? and then the stress kind of dissipated. Today it's a different story. It really is with technological advances and you know. With that, i'd like to share a little bit of my story. As a former private practice owner, and having earned a master's degree, i understand what it is like to be busy and stressed and overwhelmed, and I will be completely transparent here and say that the hustle culture really did influence me. Now I will say I wholeheartedly believe in hard work, but not at the expense of your health. Truly and this is something that I really had to learn because I thought I sort of had it figured out as a private practice owner and someone who thought that they took good care of themselves but I was pretty much wrong. And you know, short life may be unbalanced at times, but our health always needs to be top priority. And when I say health, i mean both physical and mental health, and one of my favorite quotes is if you train the mind, the body will follow. So you're tuned in right now and you are a hearing care provider, whether you own your own practice or not, or if you're a student, chances are you've experienced difficult times and stressful times, and maybe you are currently stressed listening to this episode. It is so important to implement self-care into your daily routine and practice mindfulness and that really is a buzzword today of mindfulness like what the heck does mindfulness even mean? like being present, and what does that sound like? what does that feel like? well, individuals who have been stressed and are in that fight or flight stage will find it a little bit difficult to to be mindful, and it takes some time to get used to being mindful and being in the present moment, but it is possible to do so. So when we talk about self-care, i know first hand what happens when you stop taking care of yourself. So during my time in private practice, you know, while we were growing and helping many patients hear better, there were days I felt off, i felt drained, and it wasn't that. You know I've been working hard and this and that, and you know, let's face it, i'm sure you felt this too. Like, at the end of the day, we're all human and, as I said earlier, the hustle culture really did influence me and I was part of the, you know, grind, grind, grind mentality. That just was not working out, and I did adopt that mentality in graduate school as well. I've always been a high performer, high octane. You know, let's go, let's make it happen. But I've learned, especially as you get older and as you have more responsibility. Is that sustainable? and the answer is definitely no. Again, i believe in hard work, but again, not at the expense of your own health. So, like what happened? blaze, you're telling me you were all about grind, grind, grind and building a private practice and maintaining it and growing and being a leader. It's like I was showing up physically but I wasn't showing up mentally, and I'm sure you've been there at times too. So what happened? my sleep was interrupted. I was overweight, i was dehydrated, i wasn't showing up like I should have been for my family and at the end of the day, how could I? I was literally burnt out. My skin looked awful and there were times I was irritable, like if we're talking about vulnerability here. I just threw all that out, like, again, sleep was interrupted. I was overweight, i was dehydrated, i wasn't showing up like I should have been for my family and friends. So that affects your interpersonal relationships. My skin just looked awful and there were times I was irritable, but what kept me going is, oh, i got this. It was that that really fight or flight stage that I was in, and we've all experienced this. I maybe I shouldn't say all many of us have experienced this and you know that time and point in your life it's really that turning point where you said to yourself I've had enough. Or you read something and it speaks to you, or you hear something and you're like you just make that change. Well, what did it for me was reading the book the seven spiritual laws of success by Deepak Chopra and ironically, i finished this book a few days before the COVID-19 pandemic. So the business shut down and it's like it was all meant to be. You know, business shut down and I started to put to practice these different teachings in Deepak Chopra's book, the seven spiritual laws of success. We'll put a link in the description so you can purchase it. But leading up to that time and just feeling burnt out and stressed and dehydrated and Thinking I was taking care of myself, i really wasn't. I had what I was working. I worked like 35 straight days So and I'm not proud of that because I wasn't, you know, putting aside enough time for, like family and things of that nature, but this book, completely, that was like the turning point. And again, you know full transparency, i'm a man of faith, i have a relationship with God, but That really was a point where I was like it's like blaze, you need to slow down. And as we celebrate men's health month, i'm sure there's other men out there that might be feeling a little little tired And you don't want to talk about it and you don't want to show it, but it's okay to be a little bit vulnerable. So with this book, in and of itself, it's like I started to put to practice spending time in nature, practicing non-judgment, reaching that pure Potentiality, and I will tell you, it's like everything was supposed to happen for a reason. So I took a very stressful, difficult time, like a COVID-19 pandemic, where the business I worked so hard to build was now affected. But, for whatever reason, there was some peace in that because I was able to implement these new and different teachings. I've learned from the seven spiritual laws of success, so I don't want to go too deep there, but that was my turning point and we're gonna go into the Steps. There's seven steps that I personally implement to ensure that I'm performing at my peak And it's a way in which I manage stress. So step number one get really good sleep. Seven to eight hours of sleep each night. And again, i need to preface this, i am not a medical doctor. I'm not giving out medical advice. I'd advise you before you do any of these, talk to your primary care physician And if you feel as though that you do struggle and battle with mental health, please seek Professional help, as I am not a psychologist or therapist. So again, these are the seven steps that I implement and much of these teachings that I've learned. I'm a huge Andrew Huberman fan as well, so I implement some of the teachings from his podcast Huberman lab podcast into my own daily life. So, seven steps to manage stress as a hearing care provider. If you walk away and start to implement one or two of these, you're already on the road to victory, truly. So step one seven to eight hours of sleep each night. So why is this so important? when we sleep, we hit our REM cycle, and REM cycle is really important. It's the rapid eye movement cycle. I wear a Fitbit charge five, so I'm actually able to see how long I am in REM cycle for, and usually it's like an hour and a half. It fluctuates an hour and a half to maybe two, two and a half hours, i will say, and I'm not a heavy drinker by any means. But what's interesting is if I have a glass of wine and I look at my sleep score, my Fitbit charge five, my REM cycle is like Trashed. No pun intended there, but yeah, it's so interesting how alcohol does affect our sleep. So step one get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. When I was practicing full-time I was maybe getting five hours, maybe six. So again, i'm dehydrated. I'm only getting six, maybe six hours of sleep. How am I going to function my best? So I need to take care of myself, so I can take care of my patients. That's part of that self-care. So step one seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Step number two seven to ten thousand steps per day. And put some Workout routine in with that. So when I was practicing full-time there were times where I would only get about 3,000 steps per day. So if you think about it, okay, i'm waking up, i'm walking downstairs, i'm grabbing my cup of coffee in the morning. really right, when I woke up, all right, gotta have my coffee and then I'm going into the office. So I'm hyped up on caffeine. I'm sleep deprived. I have 12 patients throughout the day. Yes, i made it through and I did well, but again at the expense of my own health. Again, you need to make deposits into your own health. So, seven to ten thousand steps per day This gets you moving. We're talking about movement of the body, the workout, moving that body, flexibility and mobility, so important. If we're sleeping and then we're just getting up and sitting at a desk all day, again, that's not healthy for us. So that's why I use my Fitbit. I love it. It counts my steps. For me, battery charge lasts like a week. So seven to ten thousand steps per day and workout. Now I will tell you when I was practicing full-time and I understand there's some hearing care providers out there that have a family. I do not have children right now, but I can understand times of the essence. So, whether it be a quick, you know 20 minute at home workout, move the body, get out and go for a walk. Wake up a little bit earlier, maybe 15 minutes earlier, get outside, go for a walk, because I'm telling you the not only physical benefits But the health benefits of implementing this new way of life. I can tell you is a beautiful thing. The third step, step number three morning sunlight. Morning sunlight This is a life hack that I have been implementing and it's helped me tremendously. You can ask my wife. Every morning I go out on the The front porch and I get sunlight. So I learned this from Andrew Huberman and why it's important to get morning sunlight. So Huberman reports further. Morning sunlight helps regulate your circadian clock, the body's mechanism for anticipating when to wake up and go to sleep, and it manages other biological Processes like hunger and body temperature. On a sunny morning, get outside for five to ten minutes And I will tell you this does present major health benefits. Especially, it positively influences sleep and I can firsthand report that. So what I found is when I was practicing full-time, especially in Pennsylvania, we have daylight savings time and in the fall It's going to get darker sooner. So there would be times I mean months I'm waking up, it's dark. I go to work, i'm not really getting outside. I can see the sun, but not really I'm not getting morning sunlight. When I go home, it's dark. When I go home, i'm going to sit on the couch, netflix, eat dinner. By the time I got home I was wiped out. I was exhausted. There was no way I was going to the gym. So that's why trying to do all this stuff in the morning is good, but to the point of getting that morning sunlight, i'd encourage you. Start with five to 10 minutes. It's amazing what it does And I can tell you I've been implementing the morning sunlight hack for about eight months now and it has had a tremendous positive effect on my overall sleep. It really has. With my Fitbit I get like a sleep score and I'll usually get between 80 to 84 sleep score. If it's a late night maybe it's like a 74. But pretty interesting when it comes to the morning sunlight and the benefits there. Step number four to manage stress. Again, this all really does have a connection with managing stress. If you take care of these little things, the little things are going to take care of you. So number four is delaying your caffeine intake 90 minutes after you wake up. I will tell you there are times where I go against this rule, like this morning. I woke up and I drink coffee, more so for the comfort factor and because I like the taste. But if you delay your caffeine intake. Andrew Huberman reports. By waiting 90 minutes after waking to consume caffeine, you allow your adenosine levels to rise slightly, making the caffeine more effective at blocking the receptors and keeping you alert. And what this does? well, actually, you will not experience that afternoon crash. I have actually kind of done my own little study here and I waited 90 minutes and I did not experience an afternoon crash, got a great night's sleep. So kind of like a life hack to manage that. Because most of us, let's be honest, we're waking up, we're guzzling down that caffeine, we're sleep deprived, we're going to the office, we have our fittings, we have our cleaning checks and then we're going home. Maybe we had a cup of coffee in the afternoon just to kind of keep us awake and we're stressed. We are walking, stressed human beings who want to continue to make an impact in the hearing health care industry. But I will tell you, we have to implement self-care, we need to take care of our minds, we need to take care of our bodies in order to continue to help patients hear life's story. So I'd encourage you, try to delay your caffeine intake 90 minutes after waking up. I know it's going to be a little weird at first. Trust me from a fellow coffee lover, it really does have a great health benefit and I'm performing, and I'm better able to perform throughout the day. Step number five hydration, hydration, hydration, oh my gosh, i cannot tell you how important this is. When I started practicing full time in the office, it was 2017 and I would drink a ton of coffee and I would barely drink water. I mean, we had a curig in the office so I was hitting that thing up maybe three times a day, plus my morning cup of joe. It was a lot of caffeine and what I found is, by replacing coffee and caffeine with water, which our bodies are made up of water it makes such a difference with hydration, and what I do now and this is also something I learned from Andrew Huberman's podcast is, in the morning, before I have coffee, before I delay my breakfast in the morning sort of fasting, but not really. What I'll do is I'll take a pinch of sea salt and I'll put that sea salt in water. It has great benefits, and one of them being hydration. So we think like, oh, just drink water, drink water. Well, we have to make sure that we're getting proper sodium levels. This is what I've learned and I really do notice more alertness when I do have that glass of water. I mean, if you think about it, you've been sleeping for seven to eight hours. You haven't had anything to drink. Most of us, the first thing we're having is caffeine or coffee, and that's already dehydrating us even more. How are we going to function to the best of our ability? So hydration, hydration, hydration. I'm not going to say how much water you should drink, but what's great again, if you are a Fitbit user, you can actually plug in how much water you've had for the day so you can track how many ounces you've had. I personally try to drink close to a gallon of water a day. I try not to overdo it, but that's what I do. Step number six to manage stress. As a hearing care provider or audiology, speech language pathology student, this is a big one. Limit blue light and screen time about two hours before bed And you can even include blue light blockers. So when I was practicing full time, i would come home around 5.30. I would get the hearing technology ready for the next day, like any fittings, repair pickups, things of that nature. Those would all be ready for the day the night before. So I'd get home, we'd eat dinner at like six, then I'd go in the recliner from like 6.45 to like nine and then I'd go to bed. So there was no movement Again, like I was averaging maybe 3,000 steps a day. And there were nights I would just be on my phone, like checking emails, working on marketing plans, different communication strategies, and I was like I was tuned in from waking up at like 5.30, 6.00 am to going to bed at 9.30, 10.00 pm, maybe 10.30 sometimes. I'm just tuned in up until I go to bed and like my eyes would start to water, i would get headaches and it just wasn't sustainable until I started wearing glasses. So I have a mild vision loss and of course I got glasses. And they put in the blue light blockers, which is great because I'm looking at screens all the time. But limiting blue light and screen time two hours before bed does a few things. This is again what I do. It works for me and I will be transparent. There are some nights where I need to check my phone, but I sleep with my phone on the other side of the room or in another room just in case there's an emergency, because the first thing I do when I wake up is not wanting to reach for my phone. So that's a habit you have to build up. But when you do, limit that blue light, because blue light does affect your melatonin and how you are able to fall asleep, but also if you're on social media before you go to bed and you come across something that's like stressful already. Again, we are talking about ways to manage stress, and social media in and of itself is just a stressful rabbit hole to go down to Something you sort of want to avoid before going to bed. Again, these are steps that work for me and that I've learned from different sources, but to each zone, this is a big one for me. So step six limit that blue light and screen time two hours before bed. And again, you can include those blue light blockers. They have worked very well for me and I will never look at a screen without them, especially if I'm looking at a screen for hours on end. And, of course, step number seven, and there are many steps to manage stress, but these are steps that I felt passionate to talk about and to share because I know firsthand what it is like running a practice, owning a private practice, making sure that the patients have the best experience possible, but I also learned that you need to give yourself grace and you need to practice self care always. So, step number seven meditation. I was introduced to meditation and more so I should say, guided meditation in 2013. So 10 years ago. But I will be transparent and say have I been meditating every day for 10 years? The answer is no. However, the past eight, nine months, i will say that I have absolutely increased meditation And what I have found, because recently, just with moving and experiencing other stressful life situations, there was about two weeks I went without meditation and I will tell you I felt the effect and just started getting back into it. My goodness, you feel so good. It's going to take some time because, again, when you are a hearing care provider and you're an audiology and speech language pathology student, you're constantly thinking what's due, what's next, what's this? This patient needs that. I need to make sure that I have that fitting appointment. I will tell you that meditation helps ground you. You feel connected to yourself and to the environment around you. What meditation does is it allows you to focus on the present. Too often, we're so focused on the past. So what was? We're so focused on the future, of what will be. Most of the things that we think about are negative and never even happen. It's like we have this internal dialogue. It's not like we have this internal dialogue. You know, you have an internal dialogue That is so hard to discontinue. This is probably one of my favorite books. It's called The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Book completely changed my life, along with the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. But meditation absolutely helps. Now the guided meditations that I use are Bob Proctor. I'll put those links in there. God rest his soul. But Bob Proctor's guided meditations are phenomenal. I always walk away feeling refreshed and centered. Again, that mindfulness piece, because it's all about if we train the mind, the body is going to follow Again. I wanted to discuss seven steps to manage stress as a hearing care provider because I know firsthand how important the work that you do is, how important it is that you show up every single day for your patients, and especially if you're an introvert or an ambivert Extroverts this might apply to you, but you have a lot of coins to give away. What do I mean? coins? Every social interaction you have as a hearing care provider, if you're an ambivert or an introvert, you're giving out a coin. Every patient interaction coin coin. I need to put this fire out at work. That's maybe two coins. That's why it's so important that we implement during this June, especially men's health month ways in which we can manage stress. Again, the seven steps to managing stress as a hearing care provider and audiology, speech, language pathology student. Number one seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Number two seven to 10,000 steps per day and mix in a full body workout, maybe three times a week. Number three get that morning sunlight. You can start with five to 10 minutes in the morning. Number four delay your caffeine intake 90 minutes after waking. That's going to be a very difficult one. I get it. We are in this together. Number five hydration, hydration, hydration. Carry a water bottle along with you. That's what I personally did. You build that habit of oh, i need my water bottle, i need to get more water. Number six limit blue light and screen time two hours before bed. Again, you can even include some of those blue light blockers. Number seven meditation. I want to thank you all so much for tuning into the Hearing Matters podcast today. Again, if you feel as though that your stress and anxiety is not manageable. Please reach out to your primary care physician so they can refer you to a licensed therapist. Again, just wanted to share simple steps that I've learned throughout my journey to help me center myself but also take care of myself, so I can take care of my patients and my team. You're tuned into the Hearing Matters podcast, the show that discusses hearing technology, best practices and a growing national epidemic hearing loss. Today we discussed seven ways to manage stress as a hearing health care provider. And until next time, hear life story.

What is stress?
When You Don't Prioritize Your Health
Step 1: Prioritizing Self-Care Through Sleep and Exercise
Step 2: 7-10K Steps Per Day
Step 3: Morning Sunlight
Step 4: Delay Caffeine Intake
Step 5: Are You Hydrated?
Step 6: Limit Exposure to Blue Light
Step 7: Meditation