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Human Resources Newsletter - Special Edition (November 2016)

Resources to Help Navigate Potential Challenges

The Election Ended, but the Division Remains

Concrete American Flag cracking in half.

Photo: iStock/Delpixart

American University encourages a diversity and inclusion of thought—and the freedom to express those thoughts—for all members of the campus community: staff as well as faculty and students.

The 2016 presidential election was one of the most divided in our nation’s history. Some people are happy with the outcome. Some people are angry, frightened, or in despair. Others still are somewhat indifferent. Tensions are running high as many people find themselves disagreeing with friends, family members, colleagues, and neighbors.

In addition, with winter and the holiday season approaching, some people will struggle with the depression and stress that can come with shorter days and unrealistic expectations for disagreement-free gatherings.

During such potentially demanding circumstances, it is important to take care of yourself and process your thoughts and feelings to the best of your ability.

AU offers several resources to help faculty and staff navigate these challenges. See below for more information, as well as additional tips for self-care and for avoiding or managing potential conflict at work.

While taking advantage of AU’s Faculty and Staff Assistance Program, getting regular exercise, eating well, getting enough sleep, and participating in activities to enhance spiritual well-being won’t eliminate problems or negative feelings, it can help you be in the best frame-of-mind possible to better handle life’s inevitable challenges.

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Resources

  • Dale Rampell, Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) Counselor, fsap@american.edu or 202-885-2593 for a confidential consultation.
  • Kay Spiritual Life Center houses AU’s interfaith community and emphasizes spiritual contemplation and social justice awareness. Learn more about events, faith communities, and chaplains: www.american.edu/ocl/kay/.
  • Communi-Kay, a weekly email newsletter of programs and events of the University Chaplain's office and its member communities. Sign-up for the newsletter at the Kay Spiritual Life Center website.
  • AhealthyU group fitness classes for faculty and staff. Explore offerings: www.american.edu/hr/AhealthyU/fitness.cfm.
  • AhealthyU Recharge Monday on November 21, Managing Competing Priorities, Stress Management and Taking Charge of your Life. Register on AsuccessfulU.
  • Cook Ross' article on how to handle conversations about the election at Thanksgiving http://cookross.com/blog/10-ways-to-be-with-the-election-at-thanksgiving

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Self-Care

Breathe—literally. Focusing on inhaling and exhaling has been proven to help curb anxiety and refocus your attention¹.

Keep your daily activities, routines, hobbies, and social plans including exercise and things you enjoy doing.

Act as a role model for others, including children, students, friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors.

If you feel passionate about a cause, find a way to get involved.

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At Work

Students chat at lunch outside of SIS.

Be respectful and show compassion for others, regardless of whether you agree. AU values diversity and encourages civil conversations of varying viewpoints. However, if you feel conversation is becoming uncomfortable, kindly change the subject or excuse yourself.

Allow others to express themselves. AU protects the freedom and expression and dissent for all of the university community. If you find yourself an observer of an escalating situation, seek assistance from your supervisor or public safety.

Attend events that promote an exchange of ideas and greater understanding among people with different points-of-view.

Take a break from social media if it’s making you uncomfortable or causing you anxiety. If you do not want to avoid social media, consider before you share something how your various followers may interpret and respond. Be respectful and acknowledge your views as your own and that others may disagree.


¹Diana Winston, Director of Mindfulness Education, UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center.

 

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