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On August 1st, I started my new job as the Discovery and Delivery Director for the California Digital Library, the digital arm for the 10 University of California campuses. After one week on the job, I wrote about what the differences between this job and my previous job as a public library director. One month in I have some further thoughts.

Since being at CDL I have noticed a few changes in myself that indicate an objective decrease in my stress level:

  • I am sleeping an average of 45 minutes a night longer. Sleep is good.
  • I have not woken up with what I call “my spinny spinny brain” in the middle of the night all month. This used to happen multiple times per night.
  • My heart rate while I’m at work is several BPM lower and has fewer spikes throughout the day.

I have also noticed some subjective changes:

  • I am told I’m joking around more–my dry and dark sense of humor poking its skull up from the ground again.
  • I swear less. No, really. I know, right? But it’s true. It’s not a conscious decision but both at work and away from work I’m swearing a *lot* less frequently.
  • I feel less anti-social, less irritable, and less easily startled. Following a surprising (to me) diagnosis of PTSD a few years ago, unfortunately from workplace stressors and incidents, I became easily startled by everyday things, anti-social, and irritable. To me, these subjective changes show that something in my PTSD brain is healing. I could write all day about grappling with/fighting against/accepting/researching this diagnosis. But if I’m getting better in this small way, hurrah for me.

Some things haven’t changed.

  • I’m still having to think hard all day, which is good. Some thinking-tasks are the same–organizational politics, strategic planning, risk assessment. I’m also using other parts of my brain. Long-dormant neural pathways are waking up…the parts that handle complex technology challenges, wading through large bureaucracies, and research (I get to research things as a librarian again–whoa).
  • There is a lot of overlap in the skills, knowledge, and experience required for both jobs. As a result, I’m feeling a lot less at sea than I thought I would.
  • I’m still physically exhausted when I get home. Maybe it’s the increased amounts of sitting time on the job and in the car, or maybe it’s just the way I will feel after any workday. I’m not 25 anymore, after all.

Over the last month I’ve been asked by three different organizations to present about some aspect of health in the workplace–self-care, mental health best practices, and creating healthy workplace atmospheres. I have never spoken or written about this topic so it initially struck me as odd that I was getting these requests, seemingly out of nowhere. But after further thought, it’s no coincidence that people are asking me this. Firstly, it’s an emerging hot topic in our field and others. Secondly, I think people who follow me on social media probably sensed how challenging I found aspects of my last job. I also put together a panel proposal on the topic for ALA Annual because it’s an important issue with real world consequences for all of us every day.

In short, life is pretty great. I’m really glad to have joined the team at CDL, and can’t wait to see what we’ll do next as a team. Expect to see some pretty radical stuff in the next few months.

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