Three weeks before my library system closed and issued work-from-home edicts, I started a new position managing school-age children’s programming. It was, and is, an exciting shift after a handful of years in public service. Starting a new position, even one where you already know your colleagues or your library system, can be challenging in the best of circumstances, and starting a new position immediately before a global health crisis means trial by fire.
These two distinct areas of transition (new job, “new” work location) have given me plenty of opportunity for reflection. I’m grateful to still be working and it’s not lost on me that this isn’t the case for many, many people across the country.
But this knowledge doesn’t necessarily make my challenges feel any less real, or less trying in the moment. I have decided to err on the side of kindness towards myself, and I think you should, too. Relaxation and decompression are important no matter what’s going on in the world, and that’s never truer than it is now. Here are some things I’ve found to be relaxing and helpful for my day-to-day:
- Crafting: I have always felt my best when making something. After a multi-year standoff with a cross stitch kit, I finally watched a few YouTube tutorials and committed to trying it. And guess what – I’m obsessed! Cross stitch may not be your craft or hobby of choice, but this is a great time for trying that thing you always pushed off until “later.”
- Exercise: Every morning, I take my dog on a long walk. The actual length depends on a lot of variables, like weather and day of the week, but we pound the pavement. This great out of necessity (dog parks are closed!), but has been such a good move for my mental health, vitamin D levels, and bond with my pup. The hardest part was willing myself to get up in the morning and not just putter around the house. After about a week, though, it felt routine and is now just part of our new normal. If I can do it, you can do it!
- The Sims 4: Before I moved away for college, I was a computer kid. I loved The Sims for many years, but didn’t really play once undergrad started. This boon of extra time has allowed me to reconnect with an old favorite. I get a flood of nostalgia and a bit of escapism. If you don’t love the Sims, reconnect with a game you do love!
- Find Your People: I will tell you the truth: I am not that interested in Zoom happy hours or socializing via video chat after a workday full of video meetings. Be truthful about what works and doesn’t work for you right now, and find people that will rally around you.
The truth is, none of this may be the right choice for you – and that’s OK! Above all else, be kind to yourself ad take things slowly. Pay attention to how you’re feeling, and take note when you notice an activity that relaxes you. There’s no wrong answer here.
I’d love to hear how you’re keeping your spirits up in the comments below. Let’s inspire each other!
This post relates to ALSC’s Professionalism and Professional Development competency.
Alexandria Abenshon, Manager of School-Age Children’s Programming (and children’s librarian at heart) at the New York Public Library, is writing this post for the Public Awareness Committee. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.