Resilience: Mind • Body • Spirit

UTMB Employee Wellness

For several weeks, we have all been focused on planning, preparing and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time of unprecedented uncertainty and stress, it is essential that we take good care of ourselves and our families so that we can continue to support our patients and each other.

To that end, UTMB has established an Employee Wellness Task Force, under the guidance of Human Resources and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. This group will be providing resources, updates and general information to all of us in the coming weeks to help us stay emotionally healthy during this crisis.

Employee Resources  

If you are a UTMB employee and need emotional support or counseling, these resources are immediately available to you. Please use them:

  • The University of Texas Employee Assistance Program
    24/7 crisis counseling hotline: (844) 872-5986; open to employees and their families. See the UTEAP Overview Document for more information.
  • UTMB Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Employee Clinic
    Call (409) 772-0770 to schedule an appointment; available to employees and their families.
  • UTMB Student Health
    24/7 crisis hotline: (409) 747-HELP (4357); available to all UTMB students.
  • Texas Health and Human Services Commission Hotline
    Statewide COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line: (833) 986-1919; available to all Texas residents.

Wellness Resources  

Zen Stones

Some of the resources below include links to external websites that are not controlled by UTMB Health.





The Wellness Tip of the Day is a new feature from the UTMB RISE (Resilience in Stressful Events) Task Force. We invite you to join us in focusing on at least one brief, healthy practice a day.

We welcome your tips, comments, questions, pictures, art, poems or videos of you or your team working on staying well. Send to

  • Focus on nutrition

    May 24, 2020, 07:00 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    5/24/2020 - Focus on nutrition. Commit to do one or all of these one day or meal a week. Eat slowly, avoid distraction during meals and listen to your internal signals of hunger and fullness to avoid overeating.

  • Find Your Center Today

    May 23, 2020, 07:00 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    5/23/2020 - Find Your Center Today. Commit to being mindful today. Consider a period of deep breathing, a moment of progressive relaxation or view a video from the RISE website by our own mindfulness experts here at UTMB.

  • Actively practice gratitude

    May 22, 2020, 07:00 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    5/22/2020 - Actively practice gratitude. Commit to send three texts, letters or messages of gratitude this week. It's good for both you and the person you're recognizing.

  • Do something for your physical fitness today

    May 21, 2020, 07:00 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    5/21/2020 - Do something for your physical fitness today. Take the stairs, do a stretch from the RISE website, try a virtual workout offered through the UTMB fieldhouse. You are a hero--take care of yourself, we need you.

  • Make time for your hobbies

    May 20, 2020, 07:00 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    5/20/2020 - Make time for your hobbies or learn a new one. Having interests outside of work and/or school is important to decompressing and refocusing thoughts and energy. Make a list of something you've wanted to learn and do it--a little at a time.

  • Learn the Power of Forgiveness

    May 19, 2020, 08:59 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    5/19/2020 - Learn the Power of Forgiveness. Anxiety can cause us to feel threatened and say or do things we regret. If someone's hurts you it’s hard to forget, but in the end holding on to anger only continues to hurt yourself. Have a crucial conversation and then feel the freedom in forgiving.

  • Share Your Story

    May 19, 2020, 08:57 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    5/18/2020 - Share Your Story. Sharing a story or anecdote or tip not only helps you relieve stress but it also helps others both learn from you and have their own feelings validated. Share with us by emailing your written or video stories, poems, songs, etc.

  • Be Comfortable with the Uncomfortable Today

    May 17, 2020, 07:15 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    5/17/2020 - Be Comfortable with the Uncomfortable Today. Adversity has always been part of our journey since the very beginning. Some of the greatest moments of our journeys, our most significant lessons learned, our moments of growth, and many of our successes have been the result of how we learned to manage adversity.

  • Help Someone Today

    May 16, 2020, 07:15 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    5/16/2020 - Help Someone Today. It’s good for you and them—emotionally and for your immune system. Maya Angelou said you have two hands, one for helping yourself and one for helping others.

  • Watch Out for All or Nothing Thinking

    May 15, 2020, 07:15 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    5/15/2020 - Watch Out for All or Nothing Thinking. Instead of thinking about your problems in all or nothing extremes, evaluate them on a scale of 0-100. When things don’t work out as well as you hoped, think about the experience as a partial success rather than a total failure. Learn from the situation.

  • Get Outside Today

    May 14, 2020, 07:15 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    5/14/2020 - Get Outside Today. Nature and sunshine are good for the nervous system. Sit in the sun for 10 minutes. Watch the moon rise. Open a window. Bring flowers inside if you can’t get out.

  • Move Your Body Today

    May 13, 2020, 07:15 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    5/13/2020 - Move Your Body Today. Shift out of your head and into your body to feel more grounded. Take a 10 minute walk. Take the stairs. Do 5 push-ups. Massage the tension out of your neck and back.

  • Check in on or with Someone Today

    May 12, 2020, 07:15 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    5/12/2020 - Check in on or with Someone Today. Maintain social solidarity while maintaining physical distancing. It activates the biology of resilience.

  • Reframe Stress

    May 11, 2020, 07:15 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    5/11/2020 - Reframe Stress. Choose to view your stress response as helpful, by doing so, you create the biology of courage.

  • Check in with your assigned leaders

    May 10, 2020, 07:15 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    5/10/2020 - Check in with your assigned leaders. Ask them how they are doing and that you appreciate their hard work and efforts in keeping your team together.

  • Get your family involved

    May 9, 2020, 07:15 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    5/9/2020 - Get your family involved. Have your children draw pictures and write thank-you notes to their favorite UTMB department.

  Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The pandemic is scary for all of us, especially children, those on the front lines, and those at higher risk for COVID-19, such as older people and those with chronic diseases. Here are some tips to help you through the next several weeks.

Take Care of Yourself

  • BathtubEat right
  • Exercise regularly
  • Sleep regular hours
  • Be forgiving to yourself
    • It's ok to cry, not cry, binge watch TV, play video games or eat that extra piece of dessert

Take breaks from social media and the news. Repeatedly hearing about the pandemic can be upsetting.

Physical vs Social distancing

facetimeWhile we must physically distance ourselves from others, we shouldn't be socially distant.

  • Set up virtual dates with friends & family
  • Watch a movie or cook dinner “together”
  • Play online games with your friends
  • Talk with people you trust about your concerns but set rules to limit talk about the pandemic to a brief portion of your conversation

Do what you love

CookContinue doing activities you enjoy.

  • Exercise, cook, clean, garden, read, watch TV, or any number of activities.
  • GuitarScience tells us that it is difficult to be simultaneously anxious while doing stuff you’re interested in – even if you’re forcing yourself to do it.


Things to Do

  • Monitor your stress through self-monitoring and pacing
  • exertionMaintain emotional well-being with buddy checks and check-ins
  • Engage in brief relaxation/stress management breaks throughout the day
  • Take time-outs for basic bodily care and nutrition
  • Keep anxiety conscribed to actual threats
  • Maintain helpful self-talk
  • Avoid overgeneralizing fears; focus efforts and energy on what is within our power
  • Accept situations we cannot change
  • Foster fortitude, patience, tolerance and hope
  • Avoid negative coping strategies
  • Seek out and share social support-virtually and otherwise

Things to Avoid

  • workWorking too long by yourself without checking in with colleagues and resource sources listed here
  • Working round the clock without a break
  • Feeling that you are not doing enough
  • Excessive intake of caffeine, sweets, alcohol

depressedAvoid engaging in self-talk and attitudinal obstacles to self-care

“It would be selfish to rest”
“Others are working around the clock so should I”
“The needs of others are more important than my basic needs”
“Only I can do…”

COVID-19 General FAQs


Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The novel coronavirus, now known as Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

While COVID-19 causes only mild illness in some infected individuals, it may cause serious lower respiratory infection leading to hospitalization and even death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers this factsheet highlighting important information you should know about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-10).

Last modified on 3/16/2020

  • Stay home unless you need medical care
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home
  • Call ahead before visiting a clinic
  • Wear a mask
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Clean your hands often
  • Avoid sharing personal household items
  • Clean all “high touch” surfaces every day
  • Monitor your symptoms

Last modified on 3/10/2020

  • Patients with symptoms of respiratory illness, including cough, fever or shortness of breath, should contact the UTMB Health Access Center at (800) 917-8906 to speak with our 24/7 nurse hotline.
  • The nurse hotline will advise the patient on what to do next, including the most appropriate clinic location for evaluation if needed.
  • Patients should follow provider recommendations for testing, self-isolation and management of symptoms.
  • Any patient experiencing a worsening of symptoms—particularly shortness of breath—a few days after first becoming ill should contact the Access Center IMMEDIATELY.
  • To keep our patients and employees safe, UTMB tests our patients for COVID-19 in advance of any procedure or hospital admission. 
  • You may also wish to check with your local county health officials for testing available through local government. In Galveston County, Health District testing information is online.

Please note: Our process and procedures may be updated as the COVID-19 situation develops in our region.

Last modified on 4/29/2020

This is one of the topics that remains under study; it's still not certain exactly how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces. According to the World Health Organization, studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days (at one point nine days was mentioned, which the latest studies suggest may be unlikely). Survival of the virus will vary under different conditions, including type of surface, temperature, humidity and moisture, exposure to sunlight, and other factors.

If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Wash your hands with soap and water or clean them with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose. 

Last modified on 3/14/2020

There are no plans for UTMB to serve as a general quarantine facility in the case of an outbreak in our area. As always, we are prepared to care for patients who need hospitalization due to COVID-19 or any illness.

Last modified on 3/12/2020

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Last modified on 3/5/2020

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. Common symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • a dry cough,
  • fever of 100.4 F or higher, and
  • shortness of breath.

Any time a member of your household has a fever (whether flu, COVID-19 or another illness), they should stay home until they’ve been fever-free for 24 hours. If at any time you have concerns about any symptoms you or your family is experiencing, call your doctor.

Last modified on 3/10/2020

COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning how it spreads, the severity of illness it causes and to what extent it may spread in the United States.

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Last modified on 3/5/2020

  • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
  • Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Last modified on 3/5/2020

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas.

Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

Last modified on 3/16/2020

At this time, patients testing positive for COVID-19 who have mild symptoms, are not over age 60 and do not have an underlying medical condition are advised to isolate at home. If a patient with COVID-19 is concerned, begins to experience shortness of breath, starts feeling worse a week or so into the illness, is over age 60 or has an underlying medical condition, they are strongly encouraged to call their doctor or the UTMB Access Center at (800) 917-8906 to speak with our 24/7 nurse hotline.

Last modified on 3/16/2020

External Resources