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Important: Taking care of yourself in a time of unrest

By Ashley Harris
Public Affairs Specialist

(April 17, 2007)--As the thoughts and prayers of UTSA students, faculty and staff go out to those affected by the tragic events at Virginia Tech University, many also have begun to look for positive methods to resolve their emotional discomfort.

"It is normal for individuals to feel a sense of unrest after a difficult event such as this," said Elizabeth Stanczak, UTSA executive director of health and counseling services. "What is important is to validate your feelings, express your thoughts, ask questions and acknowledge the psychological and physical changes that can occur."

Common reactions to distressing events include shock and disbelief, sadness and anger, trouble falling asleep, sleep disturbances, nightmares, fatigue, headaches and irritability. Also, be aware of other adjustment reactions including the need for information, frustration and powerlessness as well as anger and suspicion. Students are encouraged to contact UTSA Counseling Services if these feelings persist or disturb daily functions. UTSA employees can seek help through the Employee Assistance Program.

"Individuals need to be aware of not only the psychological effects that events like this can generate, but also the physical effects," said Stanczak. "Physical reactions can include loss of appetite, lethargy, headaches and difficulty concentrating."

Proactive steps that individuals can take to offset these feelings include eating well, exercising and interacting with others who have similar feelings. Stanczak recommends that students use resources available through Student Health Services to counteract these physical reactions.

Other important steps to mental well-being include reconnecting with family, visiting with friends and reaching out to those directly affected by providing assistance in various forms to victims and survivors.

"Tragedies of this magnitude affect each of us on many different levels and in many different ways," concluded Stanczak. "It is important that we acknowledge their profound effect on us, participate in self-care and express care and concern for those around us. With these steps, the healing process can begin."

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UTSA student resources

UTSA Counseling Services, (210) 458-4140

University Center Room 2.01.04, 1604 Campus
Monday, Thursday and Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Tuesday and Thursday, 8 a.m.-7 p.m.

Buena Vista Street Building Room 1.308, Downtown Campus
Monday-Wednesday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Thursday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

UTSA Student Health Services

Recreation Wellness Center, 1604 Campus
Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Buena Vista Street Building Room 1.308, Downtown Campus
Monday and Tuesday, 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Wednesday and Thursday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Friday, 8-11:30 a.m.

UTSA employee resources

Employee Assistance Program
Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
(210) 299-2400
1-800-442-0024 (after hours or in case of emergency)

Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services are available at no charge to regular, benefits-eligible UTSA employees and their dependents. They are eligible to receive up to 8 free counseling sessions per year. EAP provides confidential, professional assistance to help employees and members of their households resolve problems that affect their personal lives or job performance. Calls and visits are confidential.

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