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, counseling or coping support, 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.
  • De-Escalation Techniques for Medical Professionals
    The UTMB Police Department has developed a 30-minute training program for medical professionals (and others interested in promoting positive communication). The training covers topics such as empathy in communication, nonverbal language and tone of voice to counter emotion-driven behavior. Login to the UTMB Learn training site, navigate to the “Catalog” link at the top of the page, and from the expanded dropdown menu select “Professional Development.” Enroll in the “De-Escalation Techniques for Medical Professionals” module by clicking the “+” sign.

Wellness Resources  

Zen Stones

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

  MIND

  BODY

  SPIRIT

WELLNESS TIP OF THE DAY

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 nurseart@utmb.edu

  • Make a social commitment

    October 19, 2020, 07:00 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    10/19/2020 - Make a social commitment. Find a buddy or group pursuing similar positive goals and support each other.

  • Change your environment to make goals easier

    October 18, 2020, 07:00 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    10/18/2020 - Change your environment to make goals easier. People who are most successful in exercising self-control and reaching their goals are actually exceptionally good at one thing: arranging their daily environment so that they are not tempted and so that it is convenient to make healthy choices.

  • Let go of an all or nothing approach

    October 17, 2020, 07:00 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    10/17/2020 - Let go of an all or nothing approach. What works much better is realizing that sometimes all you can do is just a little bit. It still counts. Progress is made one step at a time.

  • Be grateful

    October 16, 2020, 07:00 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    10/16/2020 - Be grateful. People who take even just a short time at the beginning or end of each day to remind themselves what they are grateful for are more likely to experience positive feelings and persist in what they set out to do.

  • Make sure you’re well-rested

    October 15, 2020, 07:00 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    10/15/2020 - Make sure you’re well-rested. Besides sleep, activities that promote rest include spending time in nature, relaxation exercises and mindfulness meditation. So, allow yourself enough time to rest and sleep.

  • Work on self-awareness

    October 14, 2020, 07:00 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    10/14/2020 - Work on self-awareness. Monitor your behaviors and more-keep a journal. A recent study suggests that the more often you log the behaviors you’re trying to change, the more successful you will be.

  • Figure out what makes you tick

    October 13, 2020, 07:00 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    10/13/2020 - Figure out what makes you tick. Whatever it is, research shows that having a strong sense of “why” behind your goals increases the probability of achieving those goals.

  • Express your feelings

    October 12, 2020, 07:00 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    10/12/2020 - Express your feelings. Tell people you trust how you really feel.  Be honest and authentic rather than trying to please everyone and you’ll come out feeling relieved and sane.

  • Set small, realistic goals

    October 11, 2020, 07:00 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    10/11/2020 - Set small, realistic goals. Keep the scale of your goals reasonable. Challenge yourself and aim high, of course, but be fair to yourself-and others.

  • Recharge with a workout

    October 10, 2020, 07:00 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    10/10/2020 - Recharge with a workout. Exercise is often a mini metaphor for life’s larger challenges: We set short-term goals that build mental momentum to reach larger goals in the long term. 

  • Keep value centered

    October 9, 2020, 07:00 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    10/9/2020 - Keep value centered. Having a moral compass—an internal set of values and ethics that you act according to increases resilience.

  • Know that you are the one who controls your fate

    October 8, 2020, 09:40 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    10/8/2020 - Know that you are the one who controls your fate. Cultivate an internal locus of control—resist viewing circumstances as deterrents. Develop skills to take control of what you can.

  • Allow yourself to feel discouraged.

    October 7, 2020, 07:00 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    10/7/2020 - Allow yourself to feel discouraged. Resilience isn’t about masking pain and pretending everything is peachy—you’re human, not a machine. It is isn’t how you feel in the moment, it’s that you overcome it and stand back up.

  • Learn from experience

    October 6, 2020, 07:00 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    10/6/2020 - Learn from experience - Consider thinking about and writing down past skills and strategies that helped you cope either positively or negatively. Cross off the negative ones and let the positive skills guide your future behavior.

  • Laugh!

    October 5, 2020, 07:00 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    10/5/2020 - Laugh! Ever heard, 'Laughter is the best medicine'? Well it really can be! Laughter decreases stress hormones, increases circulation and oxygen-intake, releases endorphins, and even has long-term benefits like improves your immune system, relieves pain, and of course improves your mood - no joke!

  • Take a break

    October 4, 2020, 07:00 AM by UTMB Employee Wellness

    10/4/2020 - Take a break - Slow down; take a step back; walk away. Take a few moments to yourself. Try a breathing exercise and take 10 slow deep breaths. This is proven to alleviate stress and increase blood flow.

  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

unpluggedUnplug
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

  • Wear a mask when out in public places
  • 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

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, can schedule online or contact the UTMB Health Access Center at (800) 917-8906 to speak with our 24/7 nurse hotline.


  • Patients should follow 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.
  • 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 10/16/2020

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

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

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

  • 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

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