Managing Difficult Conversations

Dear Moose –

Your mental health is a priority.

Be assured, you are not expected to cope with any crisis or difficult experience on your own. We are here to help in a variety of ways, to include navigating pre- and post-election conversations. Whether you’re looking for formal or informal, online or IRL, group or individual, we’ve got options for you to consider. Bottom line: guidance and support is within reach.

Remember, all reactions can be normal. The important thing is to pay attention to how you are feeling, and if your symptoms become too severe, reach out for help. For most people stress reactions will lessen over the first few weeks. However, when symptoms are significantly impacting functioning, becoming harder to manage, or are increasing in severity then we encourage you to reach out to CPS. Please call us at 609-258-3141, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

This week and days ahead, I highly encourage you to try different self-care strategies. There is no right or wrong way to deal with current events and an on-going pandemic. The strategies that will work for you may not work for others. It is important to try different things to see what is most helpful for you. Some strategies can include:

● Talking to loved ones about worries and concerns. Know that your feelings are normal and others may be experiencing them too. Connect with friends and family through zoom or FaceTime, or try a shared online game if you’re feeling isolated.

● Scheduling positive activities (check out the flyer below!). Look at the virtual engagement activities being planned by the University athttps://winter.princeton.edu/virtual and check out www.matheycollege.live for College specific activities. Do things that you usually find enjoyable, even if right now it can feel a little harder to feel motivated. Some examples might be listening to music, exercising, practicing breathing routines, spending time in nature or with animals, journaling, or reading inspirational texts.

● Taking time to renew your spirit through prayer, meditation or helping others. See if there are opportunities for community engagement that don’t require in-person activities, like pulling together a resource guide for people in your local community or raising money for important causes through your social media connections.

● Getting enough sleep every night, and trying to keep a regular sleep schedule as much as you can. We know sleep is restorative and reduces anxiety, helps learning, helps problem solving, and allows the brain to rest. Even short periods of sleep deprivation can impact mood.

● Considering what physical activities and movement you can engage in for stress reduction. That could be anything from dancing in your room to going for runs to making sure you stretch out your arms and legs and hands regularly. We can often feel distress in our bodies, so pay attention to what your body is saying it needs.

● If you are stuck inside, create a routine for yourself. Get out of bed, take a shower, and do some work. Engage in your online classes. Plan time for studying. Plan time for having fun, talking to friends/family and relaxing.

Contemplating a difficult conversation?

It’s normal to feel uncomfortable or nervous about broaching a sensitive topic with a family member, loved ones, peer, roommate, or friend. Here are examples of some of the more common types of difficult conversations:

● Discussing a topic related to race, religion, or politics

● Talking to a faculty a member about unrealistic expectations or competing priorities

● Ending a relationship

● Asking a roommate/family member to change living conditions

● Talking to a friend, co-worker or family member who isn’t keeping commitments

● Discussing matters related to sexual intimacy or personal hygiene

● Discussing mental health related issues, such as substance abuse or disordered eating

Why have a tough conversation?

● It’s part of growing up. Advocating for yourself and sharing your point of view is how adults get their needs met.

● You can improve your personal relationships and build a stronger, better community when you effectively engage in difficult conversations.

● You can alleviate a source of personal stress when you constructively communicate about an issue that really bothers you. Need additional support managing emotions and difficult conversations? There are many additional campus resources to help you.

· CPS will meet with any student to talk it through and they also have couples counseling https://uhs.princeton.edu/counseling-psychological-services/counseling#couplescounseling

· Living Room Conversations

· The (A)RCAs PHAs are also trained in having difficult conversations and can assist.

· Princeton Peer Nightline

· Office of Religious Life

· SHARE

Moose, I will continue to support you in a variety of ways and plan to be fully available via phone, email, or Zoom, whether it be for a quick hello or a more substantial conversation.


Warmest regards,

Dr. Cepin



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Princeton, New Jersey 08544 USA