I hope that you had a wonderful break. There is so much to get done during the holidays. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy it all. But taking care of the holidays is a demanding job. By the time New Year’s Day rolls around, I am often left feeling like I need another day off work. With the 2019 holidays in the past, the end of the school year is looming. There is no doubt that I always look forward to summer breaks. But, before I can get to the vacations, there are still end-of-the-year projects and the deadlines that come with them. With those projects come the stress of trying to get them completed on time.
I was reading last week about stress for a project I was completing. One of the articles that I was reading (Gallo, 2011) suggested that coping with stress is a matter of changing how it is viewed. Gallo summarized Justin Menkes and Shawn Achor’s tips for dealing with stress. The advice is as follows.
- Treat stress like a feeling that indicates how urgent a task is. The more critical the job is, the more pressure you are likely to feel. I imagine that you won’t feel much stress about closing the library every day. However, you might feel a little stressed about doing your yearly inventory accurately.
- If you continue to think of tasks as stressful, they will cause a flight-or-fight impulse that will slow down your thinking capabilities. Change your thinking to transfer stressful tasks into challenges that need to be conquered instead of threats. Do you have something to do that you have never done before? Try to think of it as a learning experience.
- Decide whether you can control a stressor or not. If you can’t manage the stress, put it aside, and focus on something that you can use to make a difference. For example, you cannot control what someone else will say to or about you. You can moderate how you react to their behaviors. Also, you cannot dictate the mandatory deadline for a report. You can regulate your planning to complete the report.
- Find people that can help you through difficult times. Positive people can foster the development of solutions, and library planning committees can problem-solve school-related tasks. Friends and family can assist with personal matters.
- Challenge yourself by seeking out minimally risky situations that will allow you to practice being in stressful situations. These are beneficial because you can exert some control over them while gaining experience and confidence. An example is hosting a short workshop for teachers or parents.
I found the advice that Gallo shared to be accurate because I do let stress motivate me at times. Last year, a mentor helped me to take a different approach to handling work-related situations. As we pondered something that I perceived to be negative, my mentor suggested that I should not fixate on it. There was nothing that I could do to change it. The strategy that I could take was to approach the challenge by examining the factors that I understand and stabilizing what I can control. Based on the facts that I gathered, and by taking control of my mindset, I was able to move forward. Consequently, I had less to worry about and my outlook became brighter. Letting go takes courage. Nonetheless, sometimes it is necessary. Whatever it is, in 2020, let it go.
Gallo, Amy. 2011. “Turning Stress into an Asset.” Harvard Business Review (June 28). https://hbr.org/2011/06/turning-stress-into-an-asset.
Geralt. n.d.. Deadline clipart. https://pixabay.com/illustrations/time-levy-deadline-hand-write-pen-481444/
Author: Daniella Smith
Daniella Smith, PhD. is a former school and public librarian. She is currently the Hazel Harvey Peace Professor in Children’s Library Services at the University of North Texas.