New Year, New You – Stress Management Tips

Being a new librarian, particularly an auxiliary librarian, can be stressful. You might find yourself constantly jumping from branch to branch, meeting new people, learning new systems and generally feeling like you don’t know a lot about anything. Without a regular income, budgeting can take on a whole new level of stress and importance, and it can be difficult to manage a social life when you never know when you’ll be free. While there are a lot of positives about being a newbie, it can definitely be an uncertain l time in your life.

Balancing work and school as a grad student, job searching in a precarious field, and adapting to the on-call life has given me plenty of opportunities to perfect my stress-management techniques. Just remember – feeling stressed or worried is natural, normal and nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of. What matters is how you deal with these feelings, and how they impact your ability to live and enjoy life.

Without further ado:

5 Stress Management Suggestions From Me to You

1. Walk

Walking has got me through some pretty stressful periods in my life. Jog, power-walk or amble, the speed doesn’t really matter as long as you’re moving. Fresh air does wonders for clearing the mind and calming the nerves, but a treadmill can do the trick too, particularly on a gray and rainy day. Put on a set of headphones and blast some tunes, or listen to the sounds of nature, whatever helps put your mind at ease. I do some of my best thinking while out walking, and like to carry a little notebook in my pocket so I can jot down any inspiration as it hits me.

2. Talk it out

When I first started doing story times, I felt like a bit of a fraud. All the other librarians I knew seemed so confident, so outgoing – obviously I was the only one who ever felt shy in front of large groups or nervous before a program. Imagine my amazement and relief when a coworker casually mentioned that she still felt nervous before every single story time, even though she had been doing them for years! It’s far better to talk about your worries than to let them sit and fester and grow in your over-active imagination. Even if your conversation partner can’t necessarily help you solve your problems, sometimes it helps just to share your worries with someone, and get things off your chest and out of your head.

3. Escape – at least mentally

Sometimes we all need to just get away from it all. When a trip to an exotic local isn’t practical, a mental escape comes in handy. Whether it’s through books, television, movies, games or other flights of fancy, transporting yourself to another world for a little while can refresh and revive. I love reading, and find that speculative and historical fiction in particular help me escape from the every day annoyances of life. I also love watching TV – my addictions are anime, period pieces and Korean dramas. My partner is a big fan of video games and table-top role playing games, like Dungeons and Dragons. My mother dealt with the stresses of a demanding job by reading biographies and escaping into another person’s life. Whatever your fancy, make time for regular mental escapes, even if it’s just on the bus to work.

4. Soak it all away

This one’s simple – a long soak in a warm bath can do wonders for body and soul. Add bubbles and a book for ultimate relaxation.

5. Give back

All too often when we’re stressed our world shrinks. Our problems become so omnipresent that we can’t see anything or anyone else. Focusing on the needs of others can help us get a bit of perspective, and take our minds off our own troubles for a while. I’ve volunteered with a local organization for several years, and though I can’t participate as actively as I used to, I always feel better after I’ve spent a few hours helping others. Even if you don’t have the time or energy to commit to formal volunteering, you can still spread some kindness in your community. Bake cookies for your coworkers, cook something delicious your partner, call your grandparents, knit a scarf for someone less fortunate, have a neighbor over for tea. Spending some time thinking about the needs and worries of others won’t make your problems go away, but it may help take your mind off them, and help you build a strong support network.

So, what do you think about my stress management strategies? Everyone manages stress in different ways, and I’m always looking for new ideas to try! Take deep breaths and remember –  we’re all in this together! 🙂

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