Libraries and library systems across the country face budget cuts over the next year, forcing them to cut back hours, programs, services, the amount of materials ordered and even the number of staff. Because librarians are a dedicated bunch and really want to continue providing the best possible’  service this can create a lot of stress in the workplace. Today we explore some basic tips for dealing with stress in the workplace as we get through these difficult financial times.

1. Health and Wellness. It may seem simple, but keeping in the best health possible can do worlds of wonder. Maintaining a good diet that you enjoy will keep your strength and attitude up. Exercise, at least a little every week, has never been more important than now. Not only does it keep you in better shape, exercise releases endorphins that help reduce your daily stress.’  And, of course, get plenty of sleep every night. Be sure to explore Wellness options through your place of employment or your health care provider—-you may be surprised by what’s available to you for little or no cost.

2. Recognize your limitations. With cuts in staffing, many librarians might be faced with greater amounts of work than before. But consistently working longer than normal hours will cause severe burnout. It’s best to prioritize your duties by deciding what is most vital at your library. Focus on these aspects first and keep in mind that’s ok if you can’t do it all.

3. Be your own voice. Feeling powerless is probably one of the most stressful feelings of all. By keeping informed and acting as an advocate for what you feel is important in your job you’ll stay active and play a part in keeping things running. No, you probably won’t get everything you feel you want or need, but you stand a better chance at getting some of it if you voice your needs.

4. Throw a party at work. This may seem ridiculous on the surface but it’s a great way to release tension with your coworkers. You get your mind off your troubles, even if only for a little while, and can return to work re-energized. If a full party is not an option consider something as simple as ordering in some food or organizing a pot-luck for lunch time. You can even organize small games, from a lunch-time card game to scavenger hunts in the branch.

6. Give special awards. Hand out a certificate, a button or a cute toy to people for work well done. A little appreciation between coworkers can go a long way towards keeping spirits up and reducing stress.

7. Organize or participate in dialogues. Meeting with your colleagues and talking over the problems can help share your stress and might even lead to solutions and strategies you wouldn’t have considered on your own. Many librarians have unions or employee associations they can rely on for just this kind of situation; those that don’t should consider getting together informally.

8. Look outside your organization for support. Whether it’s a formal organization like ALA or YALSA or something more informal like a meetup between local librarians in your area, it’s important to seek out opportunities like these. It’s sometimes helpful to talk through things with an outsider—plus you never know what wisdom their perspective might bring.

9. Finally, remember why you chose to be a librarian. Renew your appreciation for the work you do and the career you have chosen for yourself. Be it reader’s advisory, developing a unique program or helping a student with a homework assignment, find those aspects you most enjoy and recommit yourself to them.’  Focusing on the things you love about the job will help make the negative seem less overwhelming.

What other things are you doing at your workplace to help push on through to better times?

One Thought on “Dollars and Sense #3: Dealing With Stress

  1. Megan Frazer Blakemore on December 3, 2009 at 12:53 pm said:

    These are all great suggestions. We just had a wellness day, and it was so useful. We had physical activities (world’s. hardest. bootcamp. ever.) and seminars. Some people questioned if it was a good use of time, at first, but by the end of the sessions, all agreed it was a wonderful stress reliever. Since I work at a school our Health and Phys. Ed. teachers could teach a lot of the sessions, so it didn’t even cost that much I don’t think.

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