Blogger Abby Johnson

On Feeling Overwhelmed


Photo by Bernard Goldbach, used under a Creative Commons license.

It’s been quite a year in the Children’s Room, and this is normally something I’d post on my personal blog, BUT I think it’s something we all need to hear from time to time.

Sometimes things are overwhelming.

  • This year, my director suddenly resigned in March. We still do not have a replacement.
  • Our budget was frozen from May to August (yup, right during the Summer Reading Club – fun!).
  • In June, we moved the teen area downstairs and combined Children’s and Teen into the Youth Services Department, which I am supervising (more staff to supervise!).
  • I bought a house with my fiance in August (and yes, I’m planning a wedding, too).
  • In, I don’t know, September or something we shifted the pages from being supervised by Circulation staff to being supervised by Reference and Youth Services (more staff to supervise!).

And throughout all of this, of course we’re keeping up with our regular, intense schedule of programs. We’re having monthly department meetings and reader’s advisory training. And December is the month to do employee evaluations, an end-of-year report for the Board, and start thinking about stats for the annual report to the state.

I don’t say all this to make you feel sorry for me or to complain about my job – I love my job! But it gets overwhelming sometimes. And we ALL feel that way sometimes. When I am feeling stressed out, here are the blog posts I turn to so I know I’m not alone:

  • Kendra Jones’s Self Care Sundays posts remind me that I need to take time for myself and do non-library things that I enjoy.
  • Rebecca’s posts about when things have gotten crazy at her library remind me that 1) this happens to everyone sometimes and 2) this, too, shall pass.
  • Melissa Depper’s posts about saying no remind me that I can take steps to manage future stress by saying no, even when opportunities sound like so much fun or great professional steps. Opportunities will come around again (unless you overextend yourself and do a terrible job).
  • Bryce’s post about feelings being valid, even if they’re not positive feelings. Even if summer (or whatever) is stressed you out and someone tells you it should not stress you out.

I thank the blogosphere and Twitter and ALSC and ALA for helping me create an awesome Personal Learning Network, which also sometimes becomes a Personal Leaning Network as I lean on my librarian friends for support during these times.

What do you do when you’re feeling overwhelmed? How do you manage stress from a job you LOVE (but that is also definitely stressful sometimes)?

— Abby Johnson, Youth Services Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN


  1. Mary Voors

    Thanks, Abby! You have articulated so well what all of us need to hear at times. It is quite possible to love, love, LOVE your job and still have times of feeling overwhelmed & stressed. I appreciate the links you shared.

  2. Rebecca McC

    Yes! A *HUGE* thanks for sharing what it can be like for all of us at one time or another. And thank you for the helpful links.

    Oh, and never underestimate the power of closing your eyes and doing some deep breathing – I do that at least once a day if/when I feel like I’m trying to spin too many plates. 🙂

  3. Marge Loch-Wouters

    Great post on a consistently and under-written-about topic! I meditate and do yoga and get out in nature at every opportunity. And I get strategic about slowing down the “gotta-do’s” at work – not just for myself, but for everyone. Thinking marathon and not sprint; realizing it’s important to let some things go when understaffed, underbudgeted and/or overwhelmed; and knowing that tough times will pass are all ways I have been able to navigate those tougher times!

  4. Bryce

    Dude, it means so much that you linked to my post. I’m so happy it’s helped someone.

    My team has started to talk about treating the workplace in a trauma-informed way, after attending a community training by Healthy Families and Trauma Informed Oregon. We now have some shared language when discussing things like being overwhelmed (for ourselves and others).
    Here are some links for anyone who’d like to learn more:
    Trauma-informed principles:
    An easy way to think about how your brain works when you’re stressed:

    I’m so happy you’re a part of my personal leaning network, too 🙂

  5. Jenni

    I color. I build with LEGOs. I pet my cat. I look at silly animal pictures on the internet.

    I actually have one of those coloring books for adults at my work desk, and even though it takes me more than a week to color any one picture, I make sure to work on it a little bit every day so that I can relax a little.

    And I remind myself what one of my colleagues said, back in the dark ages when I was a middle school teacher: “Teaching is really awesome every other day.” Librarian-ing is like that, too.

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