One of the challenges of working through a pandemic has been to complete activities that were well in the works prior to a transformative change in working conditions—like moving into a new library.
This column features the voices and experiences of OLA members working in northern Ontario, i.e., the region that lies north of Lake Huron (including Georgian Bay), the French River, Lake Nipissing, and the Mattawa River (or above at a latitude of 50°).
As library staff, we all deal with stressful situations as a part of our everyday lives. Whether it’s the minor problem of a person haggling over $1.50 in fines, or the major concerns of shrinking budgets and rising costs, we all sometimes feel anxious and overwhelmed by these situations. But a new website related to workplace and personal life health and safety provides some tools and tips that can help us manage our stressors—in both northern and southern communities.
To get a better read on how daily stresses affect me, I spent some time working through some of the resources on Public Services Health and Safety Association’s (PSHSA) new website healthy-worker.ca. Through the site, I found a link to three quizzes on the Canadian Mental Health Association’s (CMHA) website:
These quizzes offered me an opportunity for self-reflection, i.e., I could think about my own mental health state, work-life balance and level of stress. In my life, I rarely take the time for these kinds of self-reflections and it was an interesting exercise. I realize that I may be carrying more stress around than I thought.
With this in mind, I revisited healthy-worker.ca to look for tips that could help me with those areas highlighted by the CMHA quizzes. While not every article is applicable to my workplace or life, there are many articles with tips and information that I find helpful. One article that’s particularly helpful to me is found within the Work section devoted to fatigue and sleep: Struggling to keep your eyes open? How fatigue can harm your body and what you can do about it.
I have tried to implement some of the sleep-related tips to boost my own resiliency and ability to handle stress. These include drinking more water and taking regular breaks. I had fallen into the habit of taking breaks at my desk. Taking the time to walk away from my desk for five to ten minutes gave me a boost in productivity in the afternoons. I recognize that for many Northern librarians who work alone, there might not be the opportunity to take that kind of break while at work, but if you can, remembering to allow yourself to take a break can be very beneficial for your mental and physical health.
Going forward, I plan on periodically retaking the CMHA’s mental health quizzes in order to regularly reflect on my own state of mind. I will also continue to visit healthy-worker.ca to see the articles that they post and gain more tips on how to improve my work-life-personal balance and live a healthy, happy and safe life.
Photo credit (feature): Evgeni Txherkasski on Unsplash
Photo credit: Sadik Kuzu on Unsplash
Caroline Goulding is the CEO of the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre, which serves a population of 7,500. The library offers a dynamic variety of programs, services, and collections to their community. Fort Frances is a border town located in beautiful Northwestern Ontario.