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Wellness Wednesdays and Holiday Half-Day

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Jeremy Haefner

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Dear DU faculty and staff,

Our challenging and important work, and our commitment to it, is central to what makes the University of Denver so great. But I also want to acknowledge that the past nine months have been distinctly demanding, and from time to time, downright exhausting.

So many of us are managing layers of stress caused by living through a pandemic, increased and new workloads here at DU, additional care needed for friends or family members at home, the loss of social options, navigating a tumultuous election season and the persistent issues of racial injustice.

It’s not an easy time. Burnout is a very real and common feeling.

Starting right after fall quarter ends next week, and through the rest of the calendar year, I would like to strongly encourage the entire community to participate in “Wellness Wednesdays” – a designated and protected time during the work week in which we intentionally commit to care for our mental wellbeing.

Here are some ideas for supervisors and managers to initiate during the last weeks of 2020:

  • Wellness lunch or dinner hours, where we step away and participate in an activity that releases stress, such as walking, yoga, meditation, reading, etc.
  • “No meeting” afternoons or evenings each Wednesday during winter break. This is doable for most units, and I ask for broad participation. Please make every effort to participate in this shared commitment.
  • Restricting sending emails to within work hours, not during off hours or on weekends, unless there is an emergency. Supervisors in particular should implement this practice going forward.

I recognize that some units, such as facilities, custodial, and campus safety and others, have unique work and schedules. I urge supervisors in those areas to create and implement ways to build time into their staff members' work lives for wellness and stress relief.

As our schedules fill up, it will be tempting to book this time, but it is vital we acknowledge the non-negotiable importance of our mental health. I am confident supervisors across the University will see the great need for this time of rest and recharge.

Finally, many have been asking if they can expect a half-day Friday before the holidays, as has become DU tradition. While the pandemic has sadly forestalled our annual holiday party, we will have “early release” on Friday, December 18 beginning at noon. We’ll send out another notice in early December, but we wanted you to be able to plan for this time now.

If you have additional ideas for ways the community can build stress relief into our processes, please share them with me and with the leadership team. Thank you for all that you continue to do to support our students and DU during this particularly challenging time.


Jeremy Haefner