"There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want." ~Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes
Stress is an unavoidable part of life.
Here at the Ocean County Library, we are confronting some very stressful situations:
*our beloved Director is retiring
*we are about to begin a transition from an old computer system (Horizon) to a completely new Integrated Library System (Polaris)
*we are busier than ever, thanks to economic conditions
I am going to share some excerpts from Chapter 6 of Dr. Andrew Weil's book "Natural Health, Natural Medicine". He says, "Stress is the discomfort or distress caused by forces that limit our freedom and movement. Stress has two aspects, one external and one internal. Life is full of challenges and disappointments that continually threaten to disrupt our ease, and we have to deal with them in order to survive, grow, and reach our full development. Just as muscles become stronger and bigger when they work against resistance, so our minds and spirits enlarge by meeting the difficulties life presents. Without difficulty, there is no growth."
"The internal aspect of stress is our reaction to obstacles...If we become anxious, fearful, angry, or depressed about them, those states can certainly do us harm. Internalized stress keeps the mind agitated, throws the nervous system out of balance, interferes with the functioning of the immune system, and produces many stress-related disorders so common in our society. It is easy to think that external "stressors" are the cause of your tensions, but, in fact, you have a choice as to how they affect you, and you can learn to change your reactions to them."
So what can we do about it? Try some of these activities:
1) Start with a quiz to see what your stress level is.
2) Since we just finished working on conscious Eating, check out this slideshow of stress reducing foods.
Try some of the following activities suggested by Dr. Weil:
3) Eliminate caffeine and other stimulants. They interfere with your body's ability to relax. Try it for a week and see if you feel differently.
4) Sound has a profound influence on our nervous system. Pay attention to the sounds in your life that you can control. Think of sound as something you can choose to experience, like your choice of foods. Of course, when you want to rock out to your favorite song, go ahead and turn it up. But if you constantly have the radio or television on in the background, even if you are not paying attention to it, it affects your nervous system. Try a little silence, or more soothing music, especially at bedtime. See if it affects your ability to relax.
5) News can also affect our mental state. Most news reports increase anxiety. (I know that many library staffers are news junkies, including me!) But keep in mind that most news stories are chosen for their ability to excite, horrify, and titillate. Experiment with breaking the constant news habit. Use your power of choice to tune into news selectively and consciously.
6) Experiment with a relaxation technique. The library is full of books on relaxation, conscious breathing, yoga,, and meditation. Go to the stacks and find a book and try at least one exercise from it. Share any technique you like with others.
Our next Stress Round will focus on workplace stress.