attacks generate employee stress
recent terrorist attacks have been accompanied by a storm of emotional
dislocation, according to Alan Cohn, director of the Universitys
Employee Assistance Program.
in speaking at faculty and staff forums to groups of employees
last week, said that in the wake of the attack, war veterans have
been experiencing a resurgence of feeling and post traumatic stress,
members of some minorities are concerned about handling disparaging
remarks and counselors have had a wave of calls on how to approach
the issue with children.
Dealing with the aftermath
4 Newcomb Hall South Meeting Room, 9:30 to 11 :30 a.m.
general trauma can increase and build on personal stress, said
Cohn. He warned that while the acute stress period lasts three
to four weeks, some peoples coping mechanism is to delay
man who attended Cohns session said many of the people he
encountered were brittle, edgy and angry. He said
it seemed as if the attack had brought a lot of other problems
to the surface.
woman said while there seemed to be a strong bond of community
between the students and the alumni in the financial community
who survived the attacks, she felt that the staff was excluded
seemed like they were saying the best thing to do is focus
on your job, when what I wanted them to say was Its
all right not to focus on your job., she said, adding
that it seemed incumbent on employees to find their own answers.
Then she felt guilty, she said, and only since has she found other
people who feel the same.
Take time out for leisure and pleasant activities
Separate speculation from facts
Get good rest and eat healthy foods
Turn off the television when stress levels increase
Maintain as much of a normal routine as possible
If stress persists, contact the Faculty and Employee
Assistance Program or your physician
man said he had tried to force himself to focus on work, but it
was like trying to break through a barrier. He said he was in
a severe funk over the weekend, then he felt a level
of relief at returning to work. He acknowledged that he had seen
too much on television.
reassured employees that everybody was on the same journey but
in different stages. He said that focusing on work is one coping
mechanism, as is postponing the impact. He cautioned employees
that reaction to the trauma was similar to a roller coaster ride,
with highs and lows.
and reaction to it, manifest in different ways, Cohn said. Some
throw themselves into work, others withdraw, need more sleep or
have outbursts of anger. He counseled employees to have patience
and tolerance with coworkers feeling a sense of despair and helplessness.
you deal with anger, remember that fesar is always behind it,
One employee fears the reactions these attacks may trigger, citing
increased road rage he has witnessed in Northern Virginia, as
well as reports that the house of a man from Pakistan had been
overwhelming feeling of powerlessness and despair typically follows
terror attacks, Cohn said. He said the people who want to regain
control of their lives can lash out.
employee suggested that the University send out daily messages
of tolerance, which employees could in turn pass on to their friends.
of the employees were concerned about media reports of sleepers,
terrorists who had been sent into the country many years ago and
have been living normal lives awaiting an opportunity to strike.
One woman said a Saudi family recently moved onto her block and
she is concerned. Another employee said he has Muslim friends
and he is confident he knows them well enough that there is not
a danger. He suggested that people concerned about their neighbors
should get to know them better.
said that there are no guarantees in life for anyone.
were also concerned about feelings of uncertainty, of another
attack or the threat of war. Cohn said uncertainty and ambiguity
are fed by a lack of facts. He suggested that people limit how
much they watch on television and focus on the known factual information,
without the speculation.
himself said he deals with his own stress by talking with friends
(Venting is a coping mechanism.), limiting the amount
of television he watches and by spiritual activity.
have to step out [of the stressful situation] for a while, to
cleanse and rejuvenate, he said. Otherwise you can
get overwhelmed with sensations.