December 2018 NMRT Live Chat – Online Discussion

Our December discussion focused on a topic that impacts almost everyone’s daily life: stress. Oregon State University describes stress as “the state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.”  (Oregon State University, 2019).  Whether a librarian deals mostly with patrons, written materials, or tech services, stress can be a common part of the job.  December alone can be a stressful time since it is a major holiday season.

The group was asked to focus on

  • Areas of stress
  • Ways to destress and wind down at home
  • Ways to destress at work
  • Ways to help stressed patrons

According to discussion members, some situations that cause stress at work are being at a new job, feeling of inadequacy answering patrons, and the stress of meeting deadlines.  These are actually common stressors. However, it is important to recognize the stressors in order to address them.

Letting Go of Stress

Just as there are many different things that bring stress to our lives, there are many different ways to destress and “let go”.  Many of the discussion members recommended exercise after work, and one even runs cross country. It is very important not to “vegetate”.  Exercise allows you to blow off steam and will allow you to sleep better. Neglecting sleep is one way to compound stress, as many people will “mull” and dwell on the day’s events. Night time rituals that prepare for a restful sleep are important.

Another way to destress is to take things one step at a time and not to be afraid to ask questions. This is especially true for people who are working on deadlines or starting a new job. For those starting a new job, it’s important to take it slow and not try to tackle everything at once. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions. The same is true with those who have stressful deadlines.  It is important to set priorities and to take your time. By doing so you can manage your reactions to things and not wear yourself thin by trying to do everything at once.

During the workday itself, there are some ways to destress while at work. One is to make your break an actual break. Be sure to take breaks and lunch and move away from your desk or work area. If you do not eat lunch, use the time to take a short walk. Again, this allows for an actual break from work and gives your mind some relief.

Lastly, it is important to talk about what is causing your stress. If a certain project or deadline is causing you excess stress at work, talk to your boss. They may be able to come up with a plan or strategy to relieve some of the stress. If you do not feel comfortable talking to a boss or coworker, talk to someone at home. It is important to let that stress and anxiety out, and bottling it up can only make the situation worse.

Stressed Patrons

If you work with patrons long enough, you will run across one that seems extremely stressed and curt. People can be stressed and angry about any number of things and then have it “spill out” on library staff and personnel. When dealing with stressed out patrons it is good to be calm and listen to them before trying to find a solution. If they are snippy, keep in mind that it may not be you, but something else in their day that has caused this. However, do not hesitate to call over help if the situation escalates. Keeping calm and listening to them should help stressed patrons find their materials and help them on their way.

Continuing the Discussion

In the end, stress is something that everyone deals with in their life and everyone must find a way to cope with it. As people who work with the public, librarians may have to, not only deal with their stress, but also deal with the stress coming from members of the public as well. By taking things slowly and calmly it is possible to let go of not only your stress but help patrons as well.

Submitted by Joy DuBose


Oregon State University (2019) What does stress mean to you? Retrieved from

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