Your breathing is shallow. Your heart rate is elevated. Your upper back and neck muscles are tightening—you're stressed! During stressful times, your body reacts —blood pressure and skin temperature elevates, while sweat production and muscle tension increase. Stress is like a house of cards, and over time it can have detrimental effects on your health, affecting the immune system, contributing to high blood pressure, aggravating stomach and gastrointestinal problems, and causing skin irritations, such as acne.

According to Bill Wilkerson, chief executive officer of Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Addiction and Mental Health, the top stressors in the workplace are ineffective goal setting and time management techniques, current economic uncertainties and market fluctuations, poor office morale, unclear office and company policies, low or no expectations of job performance, lack of recognition for a job well done, little or no communication about job expectations and lack of control when held responsible for workplace responsibilities without authority.

Fortunately, help is just a phone call away. UTMB’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offers a variety of services including one on one confidential counseling and support with anger management, time management, conflict resolution and communication skills.

One popular method of stress reduction offered by the EAP is biofeedback therapy, which uses signals from the body to increase relaxation, relieve pain and develop healthier life patterns.  Participants learn how to achieve strength and balance through guided meditation, slow breathing exercises and by connecting to positive emotions. 

Biofeedback sessions are available free of charge in the Employee Stress-free Zone, created in part by the grant project HEARTS - Helping Employees Assess and Reduce Their Stress. The initial sessions last approximately one hour, during which time individuals meet with an EAP counselor and then transition into a guided biofeedback sitting. After just one session, stress levels are markedly reduced and, if practiced over the long term, individuals can achieve noticeable results.

The EAP is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and offers counseling support on a wide range of issues including job, family and relationship changes, grief and loss, health issues, workplace problems and drug and alcohol difficulties.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact Debbie Arrendado-Solis at (409) 772-2485. The EAP is located in Bethel Hall, Room 1.112 behind the Alumni Field House and across from the AMPCO parking garage. Services are also available to all members of the Alumni Field House. All counseling records are confidential and remain separate from human resources or medical record files.