As we brave the holiday season and the last weeks before a winter break, we can often get lost in the stress this time of year brings. We, as library media specialists, work tirelessly to manage our libraries while simultaneously juggling the demands of teaching, paperwork, budgets, and professional development. This, tied together with holiday parties and secret Santas, often leaves us little time to reflect and take in the good related to this busy season in our personal and professional lives. In order to recharge, I will be discussing some mindfulness techniques that you can use in your library when stressors reach a high point.
- Picture Perfect
The picture perfect mindfulness exercise is great when you are having a bad day. During these times, all aspects of the day appear to be gloomy or too overwhelming to deal with. I challenge you to look for certain aspects in your library. It can be as simple as looking at all of the things that are blue in your recent bulletin board display. As you begin to look for small, pleasant details, take in the small, pleasant details of your day and position. Soon, you’ll have a “little big picture” of all of the things you do that add beauty to your existence.
- Loving the Dandelions
“Loving the Dandelions” is a technique that lets us appreciate the fact that we have unfinished work to do in the library, or areas of the library or programming that could use improvement. Depending on how you look at it, dandelions can be weeds or they can be a beautiful, golden field of flowers. We’re aiming for the flowers in this exercise. These dandelions are our flowers of opportunity to tackle in the new year. Instead of viewing them as problems, they present us with possibilities of all of the new seeds of learning that we can plant with our students.
- Just Say No
This is less a mindfulness activity and more an interpersonal activity. I’ve included it because it’s something that we are professionals often overlook. Unfortunately, because our profession is often stigmatized as us having less to do than other educators in the building, we are too often given extra tasks that overburden us. If you have the opportunity, please say no to too many unnecessary duties this holiday season. Be direct, open, and honest, but do not be afraid to draw healthy boundaries.
Ultimately, we need to rest and recharge our batteries during this time of year. With help from mindfulness exercises, we will be able to remain grounded and less stressed. In a demanding profession, it is necessary that we take this time for ourselves.
Author: Megan Shulman
Megan is both the middle and high school librarian at Humboldt Junior Senior High School which serves grades 7-12. She has her Masters of Library and Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh. Mrs. Shulman has been both a classroom teacher and a school librarian. This upcoming school year, she will be entering her 8th year in public education serving Title 1 schools. Her areas of expertise are school library leadership, brain-based learning strategies, and creating maker-spaces in the current library atmosphere.