Story provided by Stillwater Public Library
Stillwater Public Library has received $9,000 to provide programming addressing ways to reduce stress. With the grant awarded by the Oklahoma Department of Libraries and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, librarians planned two programs taking place February through May. “Community Conversations,” a community discussion series focused on strategies to cope with pandemic-related challenges, and “Mastering Mindfulness,” a self-paced program that teaches mindfulness techniques for stress reduction.
The library’s goal is to provide health literacy information that helps community members manage stress in both their typical, everyday lives as well as those related to the many changes associated with the pandemic.
“This grant will be our fifth health literacy initiative, and each year we have wanted to focus on the ongoing stress epidemic in our country,” said Stacy DeLano, library director. “With so many new challenges encountered by living through a lengthy pandemic, we knew this was the year to address the topic. The information participants learn will continue to be useful in combatting stress for years to come.”
The first program, “Community Conversations,” will take place online Feb. 2-Feb. 25. Each week, two community hosts will lead an online group discussion targeting a particular topic or population. The sessions include:
Tuesday, Feb. 2, at 2 p.m. – Seniors in Isolation
Tuesday, Feb. 9, at 6 p.m. – Strengthening Relationships
Thursday, Feb. 18, at 12 p.m. – Supporting Employees
Thursday, Feb. 25, at 6:30 p.m. – Families and Parenting
The programs last approximately one hour and begin with community-member leaders discussing challenges they have had during the pandemic and ways they are coping. A health professional will be in attendance to help answer any questions that arise during the conversation, but the primary focus of the program will be participants joining in on the discussion.
Registration is required and limited. Participants may sign-up for any of the four sessions applicable to their needs by registering on the library webpage at http://library.stillwater.org, calling 405-372-3633 x8106 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Attendees will receive a link needed to join the program prior to each scheduled conversation.
“Mastering Mindfulness” registration also begins Feb. 2. The program is a four-week tutorial sent to participants via email. The emails include short videos, activities, and longer practice sessions on how to use mindfulness techniques for stress reduction. The online course, which was researched in several peer review studies, typically results in a 40% decrease in stress over the four weeks.
Despite the positive outcomes shown in the research, DeLano emphasizes that neither program is intended to serve as treatment for stress-related conditions, such as clinical depression or anxiety.
“The programs are not a replacement for professional assistance or medication,” DeLano said. “If you or someone you know is experiencing the kind of depression or anxiety that impacts daily life, then we urge you to contact a professional.”
According to DeLano, community members may contact the library to get information for local professional service providers. In addition, a multi-month book display in the library will include a local service provider handout, brochures on mental health provided by NAMI North Central Oklahoma, and books on stress-reducing techniques and a variety of mental health wellbeing topics.
Participation in the programs are free, but limited, and require registration. Both “Community Conversations” and “Mastering Mindfulness” require access to the internet, and the library encourages community members without computer or internet service to contact librarians for assistance on how to access the programs.
The Oklahoma Department of Libraries’ health literacy grant project is a nationally recognized program started to help improve Oklahoma’s low health ranking by providing health information programming through public libraries. Oklahoma currently ranks 46th in the health of its residents according to the “2019 America’s Health Rankings” from the United Health Foundation.
The Stillwater Public Library is located at 1107 S. Duck St. Library hours are Monday- Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.