Taking Care of Yourself
Taking Care of Yourself
- Alcohol and Other Drugs
- Eating Concerns
- Rape, Sexual Assault and Interpersonal Violence
- Self-Care Tips
- How to Help a Friend
- LGBTQ Resource Guide
- Support for Students on the Autism Spectrum
- Understand the Individual Effects of a Disaster
Psychotherapy & Treatments
Understanding and Treating Anxiety
Anxiety disorders are common in students and often begin in childhood. According to the National Institute of Mental Health about 18 percent of U.S. adults will experience anxiety, and about 4-6% will deal with severe anxiety.
Are these just the Blues or Am I Depressed?
Everyone feels “blue” at certain times during their life. In fact, transitory feelings of sadness or discouragement are perfectly normal, especially during particularly stressful times. But when a person’s feelings get worse, persist, or impede a person’s ability to function, then they may be suffering from depression.
What are the typical signs and symptoms of depression?
- Persistent sad, irritable, anxious or empty mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, guilt, or worthlessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities
- Sleep disturbances (Insomnia or oversleeping)
- Eating disturbances (Increased or decreased appetite/weight)
- Decreased energy, fatigue, and feeling “slowed down”
- Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
- Increased restlessness and irritability
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering and making decisions
- Physical symptoms – such as headaches, digestive problems or chronic pain – that doesn’t respond to medical treatment
- Feeling completely alone or isolating yourself from others
How do you know if you need professional help? In general, you should get professional help if your attempts at self-help are ineffective, and/or if your depression persists for several weeks, becomes more severe or leads to self-destructive thoughts or behavior. Even if your difficulties seem less serious, counseling might help!
How do you help a friend? You aren’t responsible for your friend’s depression or mood, but there are some things you can do that can help. These include being available to listen, being supportive and showing that you care. It is also important to be honest with friends. If their behavior or comments worry you, say so. It’s important to be someone a friend can confide in, but don’t let yourself be sworn to secrecy about information that indicates they are at risk.
Taking care while giving care: Don’t let yourself get in over your head. If you start to feel too burdened, overwhelmed or concerned about your friend, it’s time to ask a professional for help. You can always get a consultation about what to do without first sharing your friend’s name, to help you figure out how to get them help.
Depression is treatable! Many people don’t get help because they don’t realize they’re depressed, or they blame the depression on personal weakness and feel ashamed about needing help. Frequently, the depression itself makes a person feel hopeless and immobilized. Getting help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
The Stone Center Counseling Service is free and available to all Wellesley students. It is open Monday – Friday, 8:30 – 4:30 during the academic year. Also, a Stone Center clinician is always available for evening and weekend emergencies. To make an appointment, call 781-283-2839 or come by the Stone Center.
Contact information: Stone Center Counseling Service 781-283-2839 (M - F 8:30–4:30); Emergencies 781-283-2839 (evening and weekends) or Campus Police 781-283-5555 (24 hours)
How Psychotherapy and other Treatments can Help People Recover
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 17 million adult Americans suffer from depression during any 1-year period. Depression is a real illness and carries with it a high cost in terms of relationship problems, family suffering and lost work productivity. Yet, depression is a highly treatable illness.
Light Therapy: Are you looking for information on "happy lamps" as some have renamed seasonal affective disorder (SAD) lamps?
The Depression Prevention Research Initiative at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) is launching the WILLOW PROGRAM, an online depression prevention program for Wellesley students who feel overwhelmed or stressed. Students who use Willow will learn evidence-based strategies to improve their mood and manage stress with the aim of preventing future depression. This program was adapted from an evidence-based program developed by researchers at WCW and the University of Illinois, Chicago. Wellesley students, staff, and faculty were involved in every stage of Willow's development.
To learn more, speak to class or intercultural deans, athletic trainers/PERA staff, CDs, disability resources, counseling services, chaplains, or select faculty members. If you are interested in trying the Willow Program email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Whatever you are feeling is okay. All feelings are valid.
- Give yourself permission to cry. You do not have to appear strong.
- Elicit the support of others. Let others know what you are feeling and thinking, so that you are not alone with your grief and pain.
- Some people find comfort through spiritual supports and practices.
- Shock and disbelief are common.
- Some reactions or feelings might be delayed. The reality of the loss might impact you later.
- It is common to think about other losses. One loss might cause one to reflect on other losses.
- It is common to feel anger; it is okay to be angry.
- Take care of yourself. It is okay to not follow your regular schedule.
The College encourages students to engage in thoughtful decision-making and responsible behavior with respect to alcohol and other drugs. A range of educational programs and services are available to help students negotiate choices around alcohol and other drugs.
Please link to the Office for Student Wellness here.
Local Alcohol Anonymous & Al-Anon Meetings*
|Sun @ 7:30 pm||Congregational Church, 207 Washington St.|
|Tue @ 12:00 pm||Top of the Hill||Friends Meeting House, 26 Benvenue St.*|
|Wed @ 8:00 pm||Congregational Church, 2 Central St.|
Wed @ 8:00 pm
|St. Andrew’s, 73 Denton Rd.*|
|OD||Thur @ 12:00 pm||Top of the Hill||Friends Meeting House, 26 Benvenue St.*|
|C12W||Thur @ 7–8:15 pm||Women’s||St. Andrew’s, 73 Denton Rd.*|
|OSD||Fri @ 7:30–8:45 pm||Fifth Chapter||
Congregational Church, 207 Washington St.
|CDW||Sat @ 10:30 am||Sober Sisters||St. Andrew’s, 73 Denton Rd.*
*within walking distance to Wellesley College
Alcohol Anonymous Meeting Codes
O = OPEN SPEAKER (public welcome)
C = CLOSED (A.A. members only, or for those who have a drinking problem and “have a desire to stop drinking.”)
OD = OPEN DISCUSSION
CD = CLOSED DISCUSSION
CS = CLOSED SPEAKER MEETING
SD = SPEAKER DISCUSSION
12 = 12 STEP MEETING
W = WOMEN
Wellesley Al-Anon Meetings:
|OS||Sun @ 7:00 pm||Friends Meeting House, 26 Benvenue St.*|
|OS||Tue @ 7:30 pm||St. Andrew’s Episcopal, 79 Denton Rd.*|
Al-Anon Meeting Codes:
O = OPEN MEETING for members and prospective members, of all ages, whose lives are affected by someone else's drinking. The open group also welcomes non-members such as students or professionals who are interested in learning about the effects of the disease of alcoholism on the family
D = Discussion Meeting - topics vary
S = Step Meeting - topics always one of the 12 Steps
Meetings are 1 ½ hours unless otherwise indicated.
- Loving Your Body
- Eating Disorder
- Eating & Body Image Resources
- Eating Disorders & the Holidays
- How to Help a Loved One
20 Ways to Loving Your Body
Compiled By: Margo Maine, PhD
- Think of your body as the vehicle to your dreams. Honor it. Respect it. Fuel it.
- Create a list of all the things your body lets you do. Read it and add to it often.
- Become aware of what your body can do each day. Remember it is the instrument of your life, not just an ornament.
- Create a list of people you admire: people who have contributed to your life, your community, or the world. Consider whether their appearance was important to their success and accomplishments.
- Walk with your head held high, supported by pride and confidence in yourself as a person.
- Don’t let your weight or shape keep you from activities that you enjoy.
- Wear comfortable clothes that you like, that express your personal style, and that feel good to your body.
- Count your blessings, not your blemishes.
- Think about all the things you could accomplish with the time and energy you currently spend worrying about your body and appearance. Try one!
- Be your body’s friend and supporter, not its enemy.
- Consider this: your skin replaces itself once a month, your stomach lining every five days, your liver every six weeks, and your skeleton every three months. Your body is extraordinary—begin to respect and appreciate it.
- Every morning when you wake up, thank your body for resting and rejuvenating itself so you can enjoy the day.
- Every evening when you go to bed, tell your body how much you appreciate what it has allowed you to do throughout the day.
- Find a method of exercise that you enjoy and do it regularly. Don’t exercise to lose weight or to fight your body. Do it to make your body healthy and strong and because it makes you feel good. Exercise for the Three F’s: Fun, Fitness, and Friendship.
- Think back to a time in your life when you felt good about your body. Loving your body means you get to feel like that again, even in this body, at this age.
- Keep a list of 10 positive things about yourself—without mentioning your appearance. Add to it daily!
- Put a sign on each of your mirrors saying, “I’m beautiful inside and out.”
- Search for the beauty in the world and in yourself.
- Consider that, “Life is too short to waste my time hating my body this way.”
- Eat when you are hungry. Rest when you are tired. Surround yourself with people that remind you of your inner strength and beauty.
Help for Eating Disorders
According to NIMH, people of all ages, backgrounds, body weights and ethnicities can be affected by eating disorders. Symptoms can include: restricting food intake, exercising compulsively, obsessive calorie counting or food rules, refusing to eat in front of others, eating excessive amounts of food, purging, exercising to compensate for overeating, using laxatives, diuretics or vomiting, or frequent episodes of out-of-control eating.
Treatment can help. Don't delay seeking help if you think you may have disordered eating.
Things to do Instead of Bingeing
- Postpone the binge for 15 minutes. Set your timer. That should give you enough time to choose another strategy.
- Brush your teeth; take a shower or bath.
- Soak binge food in water.
- Leave the environment that’s tempting you to binge. Go to a park, library, or other “safe place”.
- Call a supportive friend either just to talk or to address your problem. Cultivate more friends who are sensitive, compassionate, and capable of uplifting you.
- In panic situations, relax with deep breathing. Take a deep breath for the count of ten, hold it for that long, exhale. Repeat this a few times, then think through your anxiety.
- Get your mind on something else. Chew gum. Turn on the radio or TV. Distract yourself from the cravings long enough to settle down.
- Let out your emotions in an aggressive way. Punch a boxing bag or scream into a pillow. Wrestle with a safe support person. Beat your bed with a tennis racket or baseball bat. Loud crying can be a great release.
- Take part in physical activity. Go for a walk, jog, swim, or bide ride. Hit golf balls or play tennis.
- Stop yourself and identify the real hunger. Where is it coming from? Throat? Stomach? Heart? Write down spontaneous answers. These identify the source of your legitimate wants and needs.
- Write in your journal or tape record thoughts. Be intimate and honest. Look back at earlier entries to discover patterns and see progress. Address questions like, “What’s the payoff to this binge?”
The Gurze 2007 Eating Disorders Resource Catalogue; Page 6
Resources for Eating & Body Image Concerns
- Stone Center Counseling Service provides free, confidential counseling, consultation, education, and medication management to all Wellesley students. Call 781-283-2839 or stop by the front office on the first floor of the Stone Center to make an appointment. We are open M-F, 8:30-4:30, with after-hours and weekend support available for emergency care and consultation at 781-283-2839.
- Health Service, Newton-Wellesley Collegiate Health can assist with. variety of health-related needs and can help with referrals to specialty medicine when needed. Stop by or call 781-283-2810 to make an appointment. Walk-in and urgent care hours are also available; check their website to get up-to-date info on hours.
- A Nutritionist is available through the Office of Student Wellness. Check here for information on how to access services.
- A Wellesley Fresh Dietitian is available for consultation about eating healthy or specific dietary concerns related to eating in the dining halls. Call 781-283-3933 for more information.
- Residence Life staff
- Student groups
- Mental Health Educators (MHE’s)
- Balance Health Educators (BHE’s)
Twelve Ideas to Help People with Eating Disorders Negotiate the Holidays NEDA Courtesy of: Center for Change/Compiled by: Michael E. Berrett, PhD
- Eat regularly and in some kind of reasonable pattern. Avoid “preparing for the last supper.” Don’t skip meals and starve in an attempt to make up for what you recently ate or are about to eat. Keep a regular and moderate pattern.
- Worry more about the size of your heart than the size of your hips! It is the holiday season, a great time to reflect, enjoy relationships with loved ones, and most importantly, a time to feel gratitude for blessings received and to give back through loving service to others.
- Discuss your anticipation of the holidays with your therapist, physician, dietitian, or other members of your treatment team so that they can help you predict, prepare for,and get through any uncomfortable family interactions without self-destructive coping attempts.
- Have a well-thought-out game plan before you go home or invite others into your home. Know “where the exits are,” where your support people are, and how you’ll recognize when it’s time to make a quick exit and get connected with needed support.
- Talk with loved ones about important issues: decisions, victories, challenges, fears, concerns, dreams, goals, special moments, spirituality, relationships and your feelings about them. Allow important themes to be present. Allow yourself to have fun rather than rigidly focusing on food or body concerns.
- Think of someone to call if you are struggling with addictive behaviors, or with negative thoughts or difficult emotions. Alert them ahead of time; let them know of your concerns, needs, and the possibility of you calling them for emotional support.
- Consider choosing one loved one to be your “reality check” with food, to either help fix a plate for you or to give you sound feedback on the food portion sizes you make for yourself.
- Write down your vision of where you would like your mind and heart to be during this holiday time with loved ones. Take time, several times per day, to find a quiet place to get in tune with your vision, to remember, to nurture, and to center yourself in the thoughts, feelings, and actions that match your vision for yourself.
- Focus your personal goals for your time with loved ones during the holidays. Make them about “doing something” rather than about trying to prevent something. It’s fine to have food goals, but make sure you add personal,emotional, spiritual, and relationship goals as well.
- Work on being flexible in your thoughts. Learn to be flexible when setting guidelines for yourself and expectations of yourself and others. Strive to be flexible in what you can eat during the holidays. Take a holiday from self-imposed criticism, rigidity, and perfectionism.
- Stay active in your support group, or join one if you are not currently involved. Many support groups can be helpful:12-step groups, co-dependency groups, eating disorder therapy groups, book clubs, neighborhood game groups, and religious or spiritually oriented groups are examples of groups that may give real support. Isolation and withdrawal from positive support are not the way to get through trying times.
- Avoid “overstressing” and “overbooking” yourself. A lower sense of stress can decrease the perceived need to turn to eating-disordered behaviors or other unhelpful coping strategies. Cut down on unnecessary events and obligations and leave time for relaxation, contemplation, reflection, spiritual renewal, simple service, and enjoying the small yet most important things in life. This will help you experience and enjoy a sense of gratitude and peace.
How to Help a Loved One
6 Ways to Support Someone with an Eating Disorder during the Holidays
By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS
~ 2 min read
As a partner, family member or friend, you might be unsure about how to help your loved one during the holidays. You want to support them through this potentially tough time. But you just don’t know how to go about doing that.
Here’s some insight from the experts at Eating Recovery Center that might help.
- Avoid being the food police. According to Bonnie Brennan, MA, LPC, clinical director of Eating Recovery Center’s Partial Hospitalization Program:
- Respect their recovery. As Brennan said, “Some individuals with eating disorders are not ready for a big meal or party or eating in front of many people with so many different food choices. If that is the case with your friend or loved one, respect where he or she is at in the recovery process.”
- Keep things simple and small. “Depending on where a friend or loved one is in the recovery process, this holiday season may be time to keep plans simple and small. When your holiday plans involve traveling and seeing many different people and relatives in different contexts, it may be too overwhelming for the individual with an eating disorder—and for you too!” Brennan said.
- Let go of perfection. “Although you may long for an ideal holiday celebration, you have a friend or loved one who is challenged with a life threatening illness. Remember to stay recovery-focused and that things will not be perfect,” Brennan said.
- Ask your loved one how you can help. According to Elizabeth Easton, PsyD, clinical director of child and adolescent services at Eating Recovery Center’s Behavioral Hospital for Children and Adolescents:
- Pay attention to your own relationship with food and your body. This can include everything from how you speak about food and yourself — “Oh, that has too many calories” or “That’ll go right to my hips” — to how you approach New Year’s resolutions. “For instance, set a New Years resolution to ‘focus on health’ as opposed to ‘lose weight’ or ‘cut out carbohydrates,'” Easton said.
There are many ways you can support someone who’s recovering from an eating disorder. Reach out, and ask them how you can help. Be compassionate, and communicate your concern and support.
If you’re not sure what else to do, contact your loved one’s treatment team or another clinician who specializes in eating disorders for insight.
- Sexual Assault
- Sexual Misconduct/Title IX
- Sexual Violence Awareness & Education
- Self Care Through DeStressing
- Accepting Range of Emotions
- Understanding Trauma
What you Should know about Sexual Assault
If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual assault, consider making an appointment to speak with a counselor at the Stone Center Counseling Service about your concerns by calling 781-283-2839, or with a clinician at Health Services at 781-283-2810.
If it is after our office hours and you are in need of immediate services, contact:
- Counseling Service After-Hours: 781-283-2839
- Health Service After-hours: 781-283-2810
- Campus Police: 781-283-5555
- The CD on duty by calling Campus Police 781-283-5555
- Boston Area Rape Crisis Center 24-hour Hotline: 800-841-8371
- Metro West Medical Center Emergency Room: 67 Union Street, Natick MA
- Newton-Wellesley Hospital Emergency Room: 2014 Washington Street, Newton MA
Sexual Assault is:
- Any sexual act committed or attempted against a person's will.
- Forced sexual contact by dates, spouses, family members, acquaintances or strangers.
- A range of acts, from obscene phone calls to forced sexual intercourse.
- Any sexual contact you don't want.
College Sexual Assault
- At least 1 in 4 college women will be the victim of a sexual assault during her academic career.
- On average, at least 50% of college students’ sexual assaults are associated with alcohol use.
- Of all sexual assaults that occur on college campuses, at least 80% are committed by someone known to the victim.
- Alcohol use can cause cognitive and motor impairments that reduce one’s ability to evaluate risk and resist aggression effectively.
- There is never an excuse or a reason for one person to rape, assault or even touch another person without permission. No one has this "right" no matter how someone else behaves or dresses. No woman causes herself to be raped.
- Sexual assault is a punishable crime in Massachusetts.
- Confidential and professional help is always available – caring for yourself and getting support can help you manage any difficulties you might have as a result of sexual assault.
Sexual Misconduct/Title IX
Sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking are prohibited and will not be tolerated by Wellesley. Wellesley is committed to providing a safe environment in which all students can thrive as they pursue their educational goals.
Self Care Through DeStressing
Important signs of Stress:
- Muscle tension bracing habits
- Hyper-vigilant, aggressive over-reactivity
- Caring too much or too little
- Disrupted breathing patterns
- Cold, sweaty hands
- Negative self-talk
Strategies to cope with the Range of Emotions
- Response to Range of emotions, sometimes they are necessary
- Shift out of Emotions, when you can and they are not helping you
Making Sense of Appraising
Self Care Thought
Adapted from a Sports Worksheet
Workshop Led by: Amy Baltzell
Accepting Range of Emotions
Word/Phrase/Image of ACCEPTANCE
What one situation Can create aversive Emotions that you Cannot shake?
What is the typical Negative emotions?
What word, phrase or image
Stress Reduction Strategies:
- Imagine you feeling and responding just the way you want to!
Engaged Practice: Practice SEEING and FEELING yourself respond the way you
- I emotionally feel _________________________.
- I focus on __________________________.
- I encourage myself, by thinking __________________________.
- This is important to me ____________________________.
- I see _____________________________________.
- I physically feel ____________________________ .
- Breath Control Practice
Relaxation Response Four elements underlying Relaxation Response:
- A quiet place
- Comfortable position
- Mental Devise
- A passive attitude
Adapted from a Sports Worksheet
Workshop Led by: Amy Baltzell
- Suicide Myths
- Suicide Intervention
- Helping Students Cope
- Risk Factors
- Signs of Distress
- The JED Foundation
- People who discuss suicide will not commit suicide
- Suicide occurs without warning – “out of the blue”
- Only a person from a certain socioeconomic status and ethnic background commits suicide
- The motives for suicide are easily established
- Everyone who commits suicide is depressed
- You have to be crazy to commit suicide
- Suicide is inherited
- Improvement in emotional state following a suicidal crisis means a lessened risk of suicide
- Thinking about suicide is rare
- Asking a person about suicide, especially a depressed person, will push him/her to die by suicide
- When someone talks to you about suicide, change the subject and try to get their mind off it
- People who attempt suicide by a low‐lethal means are not serious about killing themselves
- People who threaten suicide are only looking for attention
- If someone really wants to suicide, there’s nothing you can do about it
- People who talk about suicide are unwilling to seek help
- People who really want to die will find a way, so it won’t help to try to stop them
- Suicidal people clearly want to die
- Suicide occurs at great numbers around Christmas and Thanksgiving
- Most people who attempt suicide once can be expected to make multiple attempts
- Once a person attempts suicide, the pain and shame will keep them from trying again
- Most people who kill themselves usually have made multiple previous non‐lethal attempts
- Suicide is to be expected in cases of severe hardship
A. The ability to recognize a student in trouble.
B. The ability to actively intervene.
1. Characteristics of Student at Risk: (all require treatment and intervention)
A. Depression: some symptoms include
- Insomnia or sleeping excessively
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Depressed mood; crying spells
- Apathy or agitation; Anger
- Lack of joy and passion for life
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or helplessness
B. Interpersonal relationships that are strained or disconnected. Feeling alone or isolated; never developed any stable, close relationships; recent withdrawal from family or friends, classes, activities that typically brought enjoyment
C. History of previous suicide attempt
D. Family history of suicide
E. Drug or alcohol abuse
F. Feeling that one is in trouble (legal, academic)
G. Suicidal ideation and verbalization: making statements that imply being at risk; admitting that one is at risk when queried; fleeting thoughts of dying.
H. Suicidal intent or plan:
- passive - vague wishes to die - serious and needs professional treatment and intervention;
- actively planning - very serious, and requires immediate emergency intervention.
2. Intervention Flow Chart: (Jane is a fictitious student)
A. Recognize that something is troubling Jane - someone close to Jane notices that she seems to be distressed; it could be her roommate, friends, R.A., professor.
B. Remember that preservation of life takes priority over confidentiality.
C. Consult with others regarding your concerns - friends might go to their C.D.; faculty might call the Class Dean; and friends, faculty, Class Dean, C.D., etc, might consult the Counseling Service.
D. R.A.’s are to consult with their C.D. regarding any concern about safety and suicide in particular. C.D.’s are to likewise consult with the Director of Residential and Campus Life.
E. Initiate speaking with Jane – talk with Jane out of genuine care, honesty, and concern. Share specific behaviors (symptoms) that worry you. You could also request a counselor to reach out to Jane, with the understanding that the counselor would have to explain to Jane why she is reaching out. Expect Jane to initially be angry, although often students are not and appreciate the concern. Some students who initially present as angry might be appreciative later.
F. Don’t make promises that you cannot keep – to tell Jane that she can confide in you and to promise Jane that you will not tell anyone her story could create a bind for you. Avoid being the one and only special person who knows.
G. Assess the problem – through the initial conversation, information is gathered that lends insight into the seriousness of the concern.
a. Jane might admit to being distressed but states that she would never harm herself. You can then breathe a sigh of relief, but you might still suggest to Jane that she get some counseling support and let her know that she does not have to bear her burdens alone. You might also continue to consult with the appropriate professionals, even though Jane appears okay and not at risk.
b. Jane might adamantly deny being in need of support or at risk. She might appear to be defensive and angry, yet distressed and troubled. You might need to get a professional consultation regarding next steps.
c. Jane might admit to being depressed and having some suicidal thoughts and you then suggest that she get professional support and offer to assist in scheduling an appointment and/or by going with her to meet with a counselor, etc.
H. Refer to Counseling for an evaluation, to get professional assistance and to devise a plan for support (treatment plan). An appropriate plan depends on the seriousness of the problem. Typically counseling support, medication and ongoing therapy is sufficient. However, if Jane is suicidal then she will probably need to be hospitalized and she might need to go on a medical leave. Stabilization often takes time. Each situation is different and the appropriate plan has to match the severity of the problem, and the particular student and situation.
I. Remain in connection with Jane – continue to be her friend; if faculty, continue to let her know that you are concerned and inform her of any academic accommodations you could make; if class dean, set up a follow up and/or academic support plan, etc.
J. Continue to consult with the appropriate professionals regarding any ongoing concerns.
K. Friendship groups or roommate(s) might need to meet with Jane along with a counselor to address issues and ongoing concerns.
L. Get support for yourself – don’t worry alone.
M. Deal with your own feelings – you might feel guilty over eliciting the support of others; Jane might be angry with you and this might be difficult for you; or, you might feel angry with Jane, etc. Counseling support to help you process your feelings and receive support for yourself is useful when helping another person.
Helping Students Cope with Sudden Death - Robert Evans, Ed.D.
The sudden death of a student can have strong effects throughout a college community. Everyone feels shock and disbelief, as well as concern for the student’s family and friends. Faculty and staff want to be helpful to students but often have trouble themselves understanding how such a thing could happen, even if the circumstances are not immediately clear, let alone if they’re not. People worry about saying too much or too little, about not having enough information, about saying the wrong thing. Though there is no perfect solution, there are five guidelines that can often make a positive difference in talking with students.
- It is helpful not to over-assume what the loss meant to them. They react differently depending on their closeness to the situation, their own personalities, and so on. Some may be deeply moved, others less so. Some may have many questions, others fewer. Not all will be intensely affected. Showing little reaction does not automatically mean a student is hiding or denying his or her feelings. At the same time, some students who have little immediate reaction may become upset later on, even in a way that doesn’t make sense to them. Contrary to what many people imagine, there is no universal timetable.
- Young adults are remarkably resilient. They may become quite upset, but given a chance to express what they feel, they usually resume their normal lives—and often do so more rapidly than older adults. Most students do not benefit from extensive, probing questioning about their reactions. They do profit from simple, direct information and from faculty and staff being available to respond to their questions and to listen when they themselves want to talk.
- If you receive difficult questions from students it can be useful to understand these before answering them. Often a question is spurred by a feeling. Rather than plunging into an immediate answer, it can be helpful to learn what motivates the question by asking, “What made you think of that?” or “Can you tell me what you were thinking about?” Once you know the source of the question, it is easier to answer effectively.
- There may be questions you cannot answer, which can make anyone feel inadequate. But all of us are typically more comforted by straight talk than by false assurances. Rather than to invent a response, it can be much more helpful to say, “I don’t know,” or, “I’ll try to find out.”
- Coping with a tragic death is not primarily a matter of technique, not something best handled by a particular set of tactics that deviate sharply from one’s familiar patterns of communication. The regular routines of college, for example, are, all by themselves, a source of comforting continuity and assurance. Faculty and Staff will rarely go wrong by relying on what is most basic between them and students—caring and connection. At these times, your presence—your simply being with students, their knowing that you are available—can be very reassuring.
Risk Factors: Associated with an Increased occurrence of Suicidal Behavior
The list of risk and protective factors is neither a complete list nor prioritized in any order.
Clinical Core Competencies Curriculum
FINAL September 2006
Signs of Distress
- Sudden change in behavior
- Frequent absences from work or class
- Oversleeping, thus being repeatedly late
- Fatigue, lack of energy
- Appearing sad, malaise
- Appearing distressed or in despair
- Lack of concentration, focus
- Numerous mistakes in their work
- Memory lapses
- Teary – appearing vulnerable and fragile
- Anger-intense and out of character
- Disheveled appearance that is out of character
- Erratic behavior
- Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
- Increase in and/or excessive use of alcohol or other drugs
- When they tell you they are in distress
The JED Foundation
JED Campus is an initiative of The Jed Foundation (JED) designed to guide schools through a collaborative process of comprehensive systems, program and policy development with customized support to build upon existing student mental health, substance abuse and suicide prevention efforts.
How to De-Stress and Take Care of Yourself
- Know that it is okay to take care of yourself. It’s not selfish to put your needs first when feeling overwhelmed and stressed.
- Let others know that you are overloaded. If you don’t tell them, then they will not know.
- If you need something from your family and friends, ask for it. Be specific. Often people want to help, but don’t know what would be helpful.
- You might find that solitude and private time to meditate, reflect and/or pray is helpful.
- Take time to nurture yourself
- listen to music
- take a walk
- go to a yoga class
- exercise vigorously
- do a hobby or task that you find enjoyable
- see a good movie, alone or with a friend
- get your hair done or get a manicure/pedicure
- read a novel
- Talk about what you are feeling and/or experiencing with family, friends, and colleagues.
- Try not to isolate yourself.
- Spend quality time with those you love.
- Do a random act of kindness.
- It’s okay to turn off the news.
- Reconnect with or get involved with community events and activities that are affirming and supportive.
- Give yourself more time for daily routines.
- Let go of some things – reprioritize.
- It’s okay to give up a task or responsibility or to take a week or two off of duty.
- Be forgiving of yourself and others.
- Be kind to yourself.
- Call the Stone Center Counseling Service 781.283.2839 for support
Tips for Self-Care When Transitioning to College
- Reflect on what you did for self-care prior to coming to college.
- Make a list of the things that worked and make a commitment to continue them by allocating time in your schedule to do so.
- Make connections and maintain those connections.
- Try to keep a balanced schedule in which there is both work and play.
- Get sufficient sleep; eat a balanced diet three times a day; exercise.
- Share your struggles with someone; do not sit in isolation. Everyone has struggles; know that you are not alone.
- Use the official supports that are available to you, i.e. Class Dean, Resident Director, Cultural Advisor, Academic Advisor, PLTC, Counseling Service, and Health Service.
- If you received accommodations in high school, please connect with those respective offices so that you can continue to get the support that you need. It is ok to receive support and/or appropriate accommodations.
- Find time for rest and relaxation.
- Get off campus at least a couple of times a month.
- Do not wait until the last minute to do work; put a study plan in place.
- If you cannot study in your room, find a more conducive place on campus.
- Illicit the support of a peer as a study partner.
- Stay in touch with family and keep them abreast of important things that are going on in your life and on campus, so they will understand your experience.
- Get involved in your residence community; attend the study breaks and other activities that are planned in the residence hall.
- Try to go home for Thanksgiving, or devise an alternate plan to be with friends on or off campus.
- Find a niche on campus to become a part of, so that you can expand your community and social network.
- Do not overload yourself by being involved in too many extracurricular activities.
- Test out organizations and clubs and take your time before making major commitments such as chairing an event or running for a major office. You have four years; there is no need to do it all the first semester or year.
- Expect changes in yourself, i.e. ideas, values, interests, career goals.
- Keep in mind that this is a time of growth, self-knowledge and personal development.
- Try something new, explore, and take some risks, while maintaining your safety.
- Expand your knowledge base and areas of interests.
- Have fun, enjoy your friendships.
- Enjoy your college experience!
Tips & Tools for the Procrastinator
- Do you continuously put things off until the last minute?
- Do you gamble with time to see if you can complete tasks in increasing less amount of time?
- And, when you succeed do you have a feeling of ZEST!
- Is it getting harder to succeed at this game?
- Are you known by your family and friends as being a procrastinator?
- Have you been getting into more and more trouble due to your procrastination?
- Do you experience shame, guilt, and negative feelings about yourself as a result of your procrastination
- Has it become painful for you?
This might help you:
- Admit to yourself that you have a problem.
- Make a decision to address the problem.
- Take responsibility.
- Let those close to you know that this is a problem and is painful for you.
- The problem might be psychological such as high anxiety over achievement-related tasks, a fear of success, a fear of failure, ambivalence about a task/decision and/or resentment or anger.
- Or, it could also be symptomatic of a learning disability such as ADD or ADHD in which you just cannot focus.
- So, forgive yourself and let go of the self-blame and self-degradation.
- And, elicit the help of others, i.e. counseling, the PLTC.
Transitional Tips for Davis Scholars
- Remember that “It’s a New Day”!
- Mixed or conflicting feelings are common.
- There is so much to do….
- You planned carefully, but you cannot plan for what you do not know.
- Be kind to yourself…
- Some things “gotta” change. Reprioritize; give some things up.
- Relational shifts
- Find your niche
- Schedule in self-care
- Give time for reflection on the learning, both inside and outside the classroom
- Personal growth, identity shifts are inevitable – both expected and the unexpected
- Other – we are all unique and will have things unique to us, and that’s okay!
R. Cook-Nobles, 8/2016
Common Responses to Trauma and Coping Strategies
Patti Levin, LICSW, PsyD
© 1989, 2001, 2003, 2004 by Dr. Patti Levin
After a trauma, people may go through a wide range of normal responses.
Such reactions may be experienced not only by people who experienced the trauma first-hand, but by those who have witnessed or heard about the trauma, or been involved with those immediately affected. Many reactions can be triggered by persons, places, or things associated with the trauma. Some reactions may appear totally unrelated.
Here is a list of common physical and emotional reactions to trauma, as well as a list of helpful coping strategies. These are NORMAL reactions to ABNORMAL events.
- aches and pains like headaches, backaches, stomach aches
- sudden sweating and/or heart palpitations (fluttering)
- changes in sleep patterns, appetite, interest in sex
- constipation or diarrhea
- easily startled by noises or unexpected touch
- more susceptible to colds and illnesses
- increased use of alcohol or drugs and/or overeating
- shock and disbelief
- fear and/or anxiety
- grief, disorientation, denial
- hyper-alertness or hypervigilance
- irritability, restlessness, outbursts of anger or rage
- emotional swings -- like crying and then laughing
- worrying or ruminating -- intrusive thoughts of the trauma
- flashbacks -- feeling like the trauma is happening now
- feelings of helplessness, panic, feeling out of control
- increased need to control everyday experiences
- minimizing the experience
- attempts to avoid anything associated with trauma
- tendency to isolate oneself
- feelings of detachment
- concern over burdening others with problems
- emotional numbing or restricted range of feelings
- difficulty trusting and/or feelings of betrayal
- difficulty concentrating or remembering
- feelings of self-blame and/or survivor guilt
- diminished interest in everyday activities or depression
- unpleasant past memories resurfacing
- loss of a sense of order or fairness in the world; expectation of doom and fear of the future
Helpful Coping Strategies
- mobilize a support system -- reach out and connect with others, especially those who may have shared the stressful event
- talk about the traumatic experience with empathic listeners
- hard exercise like jogging, aerobics, bicycling, walking
- relaxation exercise like yoga, stretching, massage
- prayer and/or meditation; listening to relaxing guided imagery; progressive deep muscle relaxation
- hot baths
- music and art
- maintain balanced diet and sleep cycle as much as possible
- avoid over-using stimulants like caffeine, sugar, or nicotine
- commitment to something personally meaningful and important every day
- hug those you love, pets included
- eat warm turkey, boiled onions, baked potatoes, cream-based soups -- these are tryptophane activators, which help you feel tired but good (like after Thanksgiving dinner)
- proactive responses toward personal and community safety -- organize or do something socially active
- write about your experience -- in detail, just for yourself or to share with others
Tips for Effective Listening
- Timing is important. If someone has called or stopped by to talk with you unexpectedly, think for a moment about the time you have and the mental space you are in. Is this a time you can be available to speak with her? If not, size up the nature of her concern and its urgency, and ask if you can make another time to talk when you can give her your full attention. This doesn’t mean being rude, or cutting her off abruptly. Instead, if you and she feel the conversation can wait, say “I’d really like to talk with you about this when I can be more available – would later (tonight, tomorrow) work for you?”
- Prepare to listen. Create a mental and physical listening space. Turn off the radio, music, television, or other sources of distraction. Save the document on your computer, close your book or study notes, sign out of First Class or anything else you were engaged in before the conversation, so that you mentally remind yourself you’ve “stepped into” a different role and activity. If possible, take care of things that feel immediately pressing or like a source of distraction before you start the conversation. Don’t try to do something else at the same time you are trying to listen.
- A welcoming approach. People who seek you out with important questions or concerns may be feeling uncomfortable with the step they have taken to talk with you. Think about what makes a person feel comfortable or safe. A warm, caring open approach can help set the tone. Welcome the person by quietly conveying you are glad they came to speak with you.
- Tune in. Sometimes a person might have a hard time getting right to the point, especially if they are trying to talk about something difficult. Tuning in can help you pay attention to the point or questions that is on their mind. Why are they seeking you out? Do they seem distressed, embarrassed, confused? Listen to the tone of their voice – is it soft and hesitant? Are they on the verge of tears or crying? Are they angry or upset? Do they seem afraid? Confused? By paying attention to both the content of what they say and how they say it, you can often get a fuller picture of what is really going on.
- Furthering the conversation. Asking questions, nodding, small verbal responses all indicate that you are “there” – tuned in, receiving the information. Sometimes restating or reflecting what they’ve said helps make sure you are on track with her. “So you are saying…” Asking questions can also help draw the person out a bit more – “Do you mean…?” “Can you say more…?” This doesn’t mean interrogating the person. Too many questions can feel intrusive, or “pushy” – but an occasional question can help clarify things, or move the dialogue along. The purpose of questions is for you to understand her better, and to help her convey what she needs to say; it isn’t to satisfy your curiosity, or get her to disclose more than she may feel ready.
- Silence is important. Even though questions and comments can be important, often listening is the most important part of what you do. Just be being an open, interested and supportive person, you are providing important assistance to someone who wants to talk with someone. Listening involves really attending to all of what the person is saying, and not just “biding time” until they finish so you can jump in with your comment. Don’t interrupt someone in the middle of their taking, or finish their sentence for them. Try pausing before you speak to consider what the person said, and to allow time for you to reflect before answering or commenting.
- Actions speak loudly. Nonverbal messages can be as important a part of communication as verbal ones. If this is a face-to-face encounter, look at the person as they are speaking and turn your body to face them. Sit upright and try not to cross your arms, or otherwise convey a “closed” attitude. Your facial expressions can convey important empathy, interest and connection with the speaker.
- Empathy. Empathy means being able to put yourself into the shoes of the other person, to “get” what they are experiencing, even if you haven’t experienced this directly yourself. Be careful not to judge people who feel very differently from you. At the same time, remember this is their experience, not yours, so watch out for “over-identifying.” Someone else’s questions or concerns about their body, identity or sexual activities are not the same as yours.
- Confidentiality. Of course, when someone shares something deeply personal, it’s important that you keep her confidence by not sharing this information casually with others. However, avoid making blanket promises of confidentiality that might make it harder for you to share your concerns with someone else, if needed. If your friend is at risk, it is important that you seek professional help right away and let them know the reasons for your concern-even if the student has asked you not to. A student’s safety must be the primary concern.
- Limits of helping. While your role as a peer helper can be essential in helping someone talk through an issue, get a question answered or receive support, there are also limits to what you can do. Don’t let yourself get in over your head. A student may present you with a situation or questions you don’t have the answer to – that is something we all encounter, and that’s okay. Don’t give information you are uncertain of, but offer to consult or refer her to someone else if needed. Also, as much as it can be hard to listen to someone who is in distress or struggling with a decision, giving advice is not usually what is wanted or useful. Instead, you can help them think through what next steps they may want or need to take, if any. If you start to feel too burdened, overwhelmed or concerned with another student, it’s time to ask a professional for help. We are a community!
AJ Guerrero, M.S.
Office of Intercultural Education
Coordinator of LGBTQ Programs and Services
LGBTQ Student Groups:
blackOUT serves to create an inclusive and comfortable space for all students of African descent at Wellesley who identify as queer (LGBT*QIA) or questioning
Familia is a group for LGBT*QIA* & Questioning Latinas on Wellesley College's campus
Group for LGBTQ and questioning students of Asian descent
Support and community for students who identify as TGNC (transgender and gender nonconforming)
QTSAQ (Queer and Trans South-Asian Coalition)
Wildcards for students who identify as asexual and/or aromantic
Medical and mental health services
Peer Listening Line: (800) 399-PEER
LGBT Helpline: (888)340-4528
Medical and mental health services for ages 13-29
Understand the Individual Effects of a Disaster
- Everyone who sees or experiences a disaster is affected by it in some way.
- It is normal to feel anxious about your own safety and that of your family and close friends.
- Profound sadness, grief and anger are normal reactions to an abnormal event.
- Acknowledging your feelings helps you recover.
- Focusing on your strengths and abilities helps you heal.
- Accepting help from community programs and resources is healthy.
- Everyone has different needs and different ways of coping.
- It is common to want to strike back at people who have caused great pain.
Children and older adults are of special concern in the aftermath of disasters. Even individuals who experience a disaster “second hand” through exposure to extensive media coverage can be affected.
Contact local faith-based organizations, voluntary agencies, or professional counselors for counseling. Additionally, FEMA and state and local governments of the affected area may provide crisis counseling assistance.
As you recover, it is a good idea to make sure that you have updated your family disaster plan and replenished essential disaster supplies just in case a disaster happens again. You will always feel better knowing that you are prepared and ready for anything.
Seek counseling if you or a family member are experiencing disaster-related stress.
Recognize Signs of Disaster-Related Stress
When adults have the following signs, they might need crisis counseling or stress management assistance:
- Difficulty communicating thoughts.
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Difficulty maintaining balance in their lives.
- Low threshold of frustration.
- Increased use of drugs/alcohol.
- Limited attention span.
- Poor work performance.
- Headaches/stomach problems.
- Tunnel vision/muffled hearing.
- Colds or flu-like symptoms.
- Disorientation or confusion.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Reluctance to leave home.
- Depression, sadness.
- Feelings of hopelessness.
- Mood-swings and easy bouts of crying.
- Overwhelming guilt and self-doubt.
- Fear of crowds, strangers, or being alone.
Talk with someone and seek professional help for disaster-related stress.
The following are ways to ease disaster-related stress:
- Talk with someone about your feelings - anger, sorrow and other emotions - even though it may be difficult.
- Seek help from professional counselors who deal with post-disaster stress.
- Do not hold yourself responsible for the disastrous event or be frustrated because you feel you cannot help directly in the rescue work.
- Take steps to promote your own physical and emotional healing by healthy eating, rest, exercise, relaxation and meditation.
- Maintain a normal family and daily routine, limiting demanding responsibilities on yourself and your family.
- Spend time with family and friends.
- Participate in memorials.
- Use existing support groups of family, friends and religious institutions.
Disasters can leave children feeling frightened, confused, and insecure. Whether a child has personally experienced trauma, has merely seen the event on television or has heard it discussed by adults, it is important for parents and teachers to be informed and ready to help if reactions to stress begin to occur.
Children may respond to disaster by demonstrating fears, sadness or behavioral problems. Younger children may return to earlier behavior patterns, such as bedwetting, sleep problems and separation anxiety. Older children may also display anger, aggression, school problems or withdrawal. Some children who have only indirect contact with the disaster but witness it on television may develop distress.
Recognize Risk Factors
For many children, reactions to disasters are brief and represent normal reactions to "abnormal events." A smaller number of children can be at risk for more enduring psychological distress as a function of three major risk factors:
- Direct exposure to the disaster, such as being evacuated, observing injuries or death of others, or experiencing injury along with fearing one’s life is in danger.
- Loss/grief: This relates to the death or serious injury of family or friends.
- On-going stress from the secondary effects of disaster, such as temporarily living elsewhere, loss of friends and social networks, loss of personal property, parental unemployment, and costs incurred during recovery to return the family to pre-disaster life and living conditions.
Vulnerabilities in Children
In most cases, depending on the risk factors above, distressing responses are temporary. In the absence of severe threat to life, injury, loss of loved ones, or secondary problems such as loss of home, moves, etc., symptoms usually diminish over time. For those that were directly exposed to the disaster, reminders of the disaster such as high winds, smoke, cloudy skies, sirens, or other reminders of the disaster may cause upsetting feelings to return. Having a prior history of some type of traumatic event or severe stress may contribute to these feelings.
Children’s coping with disaster or emergencies is often tied to the way parents cope. They can detect adults’ fears and sadness. Parents and adults can make disasters less traumatic for children by taking steps to manage their own feelings and plans for coping. Parents are almost always the best source of support for children in disasters. One way to establish a sense of control and to build confidence in children before a disaster is to engage and involve them in preparing a family disaster plan. After a disaster, children can contribute to a family recovery plan.
Meeting the Child's Emotional Needs
Children’s reactions are influenced by the behavior, thoughts, and feelings of adults. Adults should encourage children and adolescents to share their thoughts and feelings about the incident. Clarify misunderstandings about risk and danger by listening to children’s concerns and answering questions. Maintain a sense of calm by validating children’s concerns and perceptions and with discussion of concrete plans for safety.
Listen to what the child is saying. If a young child is asking questions about the event, answer them simply without the elaboration needed for an older child or adult. Some children are comforted by knowing more or less information than others; decide what level of information your particular child needs. If a child has difficulty expressing feelings, allow the child to draw a picture or tell a story of what happened.
Try to understand what is causing anxieties and fears. Be aware that following a disaster, children are most afraid that:
- The event will happen again.
- Someone close to them will be killed or injured.
- They will be left alone or separated from the family.
Reassuring Children After a Disaster
Suggestions to help reassure children include the following:
- Personal contact is reassuring. Hug and touch your children.