Off the Shelf: Self-care advice found in the libraries


Cristina Springfield, Librarian

Here in the libraries, our conversations with students typically focus around their academic life – such as their research projects, their upcoming paper deadlines, when they’ll hear back from a degree program they applied to, or whether they’ve heard back on their transfer application. But around this time of year, more than ever, we recognize that students’ lives are multifaceted and unpredictable. What we are facing in our personal or professional lives, our physical and mental health, the quality of relationships we have – these all affect our well-being which, in turn, has a direct impact on our academic success.

To some, self-care may sound like a hippy-dippy phrase employed by yoga enthusiasts and alternative health practitioners. But for many, self-care is an essential survival skill. Self-care refers to activities and practices that we can engage in on a regular basis to manage and reduce our stress, honor our emotional and spiritual needs, foster and sustain relationships, and achieve equilibrium across our lives. Despite mainstream depictions of self-care, it is not just for the rich, nor just the privileged. In fact, the Madison College Libraries & Academic Support Services can provide you with (always free!) resources to help you on your way. While each person’s method to care for themselves may look different, here’s a curated list of possibilities:


  • Curl up with a book of poetry – We have just added Instagram sensations Yrsa Daley-Ward (author of “Bone”) and Nayyirah Waheed’s (author of “salt.”) books of poetry to our collection.
  • For many, Thanksgiving is a stressful time with extra time spent with family – Nobel Peace Prize winner and social activist, Desmond Tutu, offers a manual on the art of forgiveness. The book, co-written with his daughter, Mpho Tutu, is entitled “The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World.”
  • Take a break in the Creator Studio to play with Legos, scribble in coloring books, or add to one of our many puzzles. Learn how to knit and build a circuit. The Creator Studio is located in Room B3211 at the Truax campus.
  • Learn how to Zentangle to quiet your brain – “Zentangle Drawing for a Calm & Focused Mind” by Suzanne McNeill will get you started. 
  • Consider the benefits of better eating habits for your overall health– Maybe “Secrets from the Eating Lab: the Science of Weight loss, the Myth of Willpower, and Why you Should never Diet” strikes your fancy?
  • Heard about the health benefits of mindfulness? It’s gaining a lot of attention in the academic and medical world. Watch the Great Courses streaming film “Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation Course” in the libraries’ Kanopy database by visiting the libraries’ website. 
  • Time management – why not check out a book with strategies to help you organize your time? One in our collection is entitled “Overwhelmed: How to Work, Love, and Play When No One has the Time” by Brigid Schulte. 
  • Laugh – No explanation needed here. One of my family’s favorites around the holidays? “Meet the Parents” with Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro available on DVD.Self-care advice found in the libraries