April Moyo: Showing up for Yourself in the Library: Tips for Wellness at Work
April Moyo is the Library Campus Manager at the Harris Campus of Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is currently enjoying her 6th year of librarianship. April earned her Masters of Library and Information Science from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. April started her career as a librarian in the public school setting, working as an elementary school and high school Media Specialist in Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland, before leaping into her role as a librarian in higher education at CPCC. April enjoys reading, traveling, photography, home decor, journaling, blogging her musings, and spending time with her family.
I know you’ve been there. Hunched over, back hurting. Sitting for hours, getting a stiff neck. Or standing on your feet, helping patrons, carting books around, assisting at the computer stations, or instructing a class. About 90 minutes have passed since you took a break. You might even start to feel a dull headache coming on and you can’t remember the last time you ate something.
The reality of this productivity grind is what can keep us from taking care of ourselves at work. Yes, wellness is not just an off-the-clock, after work endeavor. It should be an integral part of our daily lives. Wellness shouldn’t just be a scheduled block of yoga, weight-lifting, spinning, or sipping hot tea while you get your pedicure. It’s not a one-size-fits-all self-care ritual. Instead, wellness should be a holistic, comprehensive plan of action for our lives—in or outside of work. We spend most of our lives at work, so why shouldn’t we at least be well while we are there?
As one who is oftentimes resistant to obtain the newest technological device or system, I felt the slight buzz of my new Fitbit (a gift from hubby) reminding me to get up and move. We’ve gotten to this point in society where devices have to tell us to move our bodies; a sad state of affairs. More often than not, my mind dwells on what I should be doing instead of sitting at my desk, to combat the stiffness I feel while typing up that latest report/email/Twitter post and occasionally glancing out at the library as my part-timer greets another patron.
Here are 7 tips for instituting wellness in the library when the standing desk is not enough
Walk the hallway, up and down the stairs, up and down the stacks, around to the farthest classroom and back, go fetch that book truck all the way up in the corner on the 4th floor, walk to the coffee/tea machine or water fountain, or outside and around the block. Walking is so underrated, yet it is free, usually always available to those with full mobility, and moves your joints where you probably feel stiff.
2.) Lamps or another alternative lighting:
Instead of relying on the harsh office lighting above you, bring in a small desk lamp or standing lamp if your space allows it. Sometimes, just dimming the lights can help us ease into our day, feel less stressed, and avoid glares, and give our eyes a small break from straining to look at screens. If you’re situated in an area where you can open the blinds—or better yet, the actual window—do it. Weather permitting, you’ll enjoy a nice breeze of air gliding through, and let’s be honest, the office is always cold anyway. Let a little sunshine in for a few minutes.
I'm an essential oil kind of girl. I love the smell of lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint; you name it. In my space, I'm able to turn on a very small essential oil diffuser which immediately makes me feel like I’m working at the spa. Granted, you might not be able to pull this off in an open workspace or shared work area in order not to offend others. Alternatively, we have a small garden in the back of our campus. I’ve walked outside to pull sprigs of fresh mint and just lay them on my desk for a fresh, invigorating scent.
4.) Pack your lunch:
Don’t be tempted to run down to the vending machine for those cookies, chips, and honey buns because you are ravenous. Take the time the night before to make yourself a satisfying, healthy lunch and some snacks to get through the day. It works, trust me. I’m guilty of heading to the machine when I really didn’t want to.
5.) Roll your shoulders:
Lifting books or equipment or sitting at a desk for hours is a recipe for stiff muscles. Think of those warm-up and cool-down exercises you’ve done in your group exercise class and do them at your desk. Don’t worry if someone looks at you crazy.
6.) Get ergonomic
What does this mean? In a nutshell, making your work space efficient and comfortable. I don’t have funding available for fancy chairs, desks, and things that are “just my height.” Instead, I took some tips from this video posted by the Wall Street Journal. Now I have 2 reams of paper under my feet, a pillow in my chair, my phone on the left side of my computer, and swapped my chair for one in the study room. Watch the video, thank me later.
Just breathe. Take some deep breaths. Close your eyes for a few moments and breathe air into your body, then out slowly. You’ll start to relax and feel better instantly. And you won’t respond in haste to that questionable email you just received.
OK, so wellness in the library is wellness anywhere. But, take a minute to think of yourself. Prioritize you. A 10-minute walk or a couple of stretches and shoulder rolls won’t make you look irresponsible or like you’re slacking off. It will instead make you better able to tackle your job and the demands set forth. It will help you clear your mind, breathe, and move your body. It will nourish your soul and your spirit, which in turn makes you a better workmate. You can show up for work by showing up first for yourself.
There goes my Fitbit. Time for my walk.
April Moyo, MLIS