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Wellbeing tip: calm the stress cyclone and get on with your day

You’re finally to the last patron in what felt like a never-ending line. You take a deep breath and put on your best smile, but you’re immediately met with a rude comment about the wait. You channel your inner professional and use your best customer service voice to deflate the situation. Success!

But, you don’t feel like it’s over and done. Your jaw is clenched, you’re a little sweaty, and you just can’t stop thinking about what the patron said. **internal scream** Now, you’ve snapped at a coworker who was asking a cataloging question and you just want this day to be over.


Take a deep breath with me.

You’re experiencing what some call a stress cycle. Perhaps think of it as a ‘stress cyclone’ – it keeps ramping up more and more until you burst. You can’t just move on, because your brain and body don’t yet know that they are safe, that it is ok to shift away from the fight-flight-freeze response. But it’s not all doom and gloom – you can break the cycle and calm the storm with a few strategies:

  • Physical activity – A few minutes of walking around the library building or dancing in your office lets your body know it’s safe. Find a song that you enjoy and shake away your tension!
  • Laugh it off – Deep belly laughs, especially when shared with another person, can ease the tension and get your brain back on track. This is a good time to reach for a brief cat video or a clip from your favorite comedy.
  • Lean into affection – Share your struggle with a trusted loved one. A short chat or a long hug with someone you trust can help trigger a feeling of safety. Even petting your cat or dog for a few minutes can work!
  • Breathing – It may seem like a cliché, but breathing deeply really can regulate your body’s response to stress. Breath in for a slow count of five, hold your breath for five, exhale for a slow count of ten, and pause for a count of five. Repeating this cycle three times can work wonders!

If your library staff wants more wellbeing guidance, MCLS is here for you!

MCLS Library Strategists Jenny Kobiela-Mondor and Lissa Krull both hold a Certificate in Creating Wellbeing from The Wellbeing Lab by Michelle McQuaid, and are available for staff in-service trainings or retreats. Contact us at for more information and a price quote. MCLS member libraries receive a reduced rate!

(Tips adapted from The Wellbeing Lab by Michelle McQuaid and “Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle” by Amelia Nagoski and Emily Nagoski)