The University of Virginia is well known for its tradition of student leadership. At the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center, we consistently see students giving their time and talents to a wide variety of ongoing civic engagements. UVA students’ dedication to service is a source of inspiration to us and to our colleagues on the faculty and staff across Grounds. We are also keenly aware that students, as well as faculty and staff, can easily find themselves swept up in their civic engagements to a surprising degree, especially when news of great significance comes unexpectedly. In the wake of election results for which many on Grounds felt unprepared, we encourage members of the University Community to be mindful that each of us must to take care of our own needs. And we need to encourage those around us to do the same if we are to continue to move forward.
Many people are surprised by the degree to which news can affect them. It can help to monitor how ongoing news coverage and discussions with friends and family are affecting you. Consider taking breaks from social media and the news. Taking a break does not mean that you do not care. It means that you realize that viewing more than feels right will not help.
While processing significant information, continue to ensure that the full range of your physical, mental and emotional needs are met, including especially adequate sleep, exercise, healthy eating, and relaxation. As on an airplane, where you are told to place your own air mask before helping others, it is important to remember that by taking care of yourself, you will be better able to effectively engage however you choose going forward.
Some specific tips include:
- Set limits for how long at a time you will talk or think about subjects that you know will increase your stress.
- Be compassionate with yourself and others. Everyone responds differently at stressful times.
- Be as open and honest as possible with family and friends about what you need from them. It’s okay to ask for what you need. It is ok to ask them to let you take the lead on both bringing things up and on changing the subject when it feels like it is enough or too much.
- It is important to seek support and to feel heard. Ask supportive people in your life – family, friends, mentors – to listen rather than respond, unless you are seeking advice. Otherwise you may wind up managing others’ reactions rather than your own.
Please share these resources with colleagues, friends and family.
As always, students in need of a quiet space during challenging times may visit the Room to Breathe at the Women’s Center. We encourage students interested in information about additional support services to call us at 434-982-2361 or in person at 1400 University Avenue. We are open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. When demand for our services exceeds what we are able to offer, we work to connect students to other resources on Grounds and in the Charlottesville community.