University expert shares insight on managing stress

University expert shares insight on managing stress

By Life@TheU

University expert shares insight on managing stress

By Life@TheU

COVID-19 has relegated University faculty, staff, and students to teach, work, and learn remotely, creating unique challenges as we adapt to fulfilling our weekday roles in a new environment. While it’s understandable that new situations can add stress and anxiety to everyday living, we’re sharing tips and resources from a University expert to help you manage your time away from campus.   

“Anxiety is a human emotion that keeps us safe,” said Maria Rueda-Lara, M.D., a psychiatrist with the University of Miami Health System. “In this case, it helps us engage in behavior that will keep us healthy, so that’s good. But when it affects our daily functioning, when it consumes us, then it can be a problem.”

But there are measures you can take to ease the distress. The University offers remote resources to help you combat the anxiety of this novel pandemic from the comfort of your home. The following are Rueda-Lara’s suggestions.

Focus on what you can control, and follow those safety measures. 
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer that contains 60 percent or more alcohol. Don’t touch your face. Avoid coming into contact with infected people. Stay home if you’re sick. Disinfect surfaces that could be contaminated with germs. The most important thing is to stay informed on how to stay safe. 

Turn off the news
You don’t need to read every alert. “You should have information that is practical and that helps you protect your health,” Rueda-Lara pointed out. Through the University Libraries, students, faculty, and staff can access news publications, including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal—at any time, across any platform or mobile device.

Stick to trustworthy sources for guidance
The CDC has up-to-date, accurate information on the coronavirus. So, there’s no need to scour other websites, which may not have the right advice or information. Access the latest information regarding the University on the University of Miami’s COVID-19 website

Download and use a meditation app 
Mobile applications, such as Calm, Headspace, or dozens of other online resources, can aid in practicing mindfulness. Try meditating or practicing slow, purposeful breathing. For those who are unsure about getting started, here are tips for anyone looking to enhance or begin  meditation. 

Additionally, experts from Carisk Behavioral Health share tips to help you check yourself and practice being well.

Exerciseat home 
Physical activity releases endorphins that help reduce emotional stress. Activating and stretching your muscles  provide a myriad of benefits. To be effective, exercise doesn’t have to be complicated or require tons of space or equipment. Start by getting up every hour and walking around for at least three minutes. Whether it’s a short workout from your desk, or a more intense exercise led by student trainers from The Patti and Allan Herbert Wellness Center, staying active will help alleviate your stress.

Connect with friends, family, and colleagues by using technology 
Social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t still keep in touch. FaceTime, WhatsApp, Zoom, and a host of other apps can help you stay in touch with your loved ones even if you’re not physically in the same place.

Have a contingency plan 
When you know your alternatives in the event that your child’s school closes or you’re asked to telecommute, you can rest easier. Read the latest advisory about remote work options at the University and stay informed. 

If managing anxiety still proves difficult, “talk to a mental health professional,” urged Dr. Rueda-Lara. “You’re not alone. There’s help out there.”

Visit to read more of Dr. Maria Rueda-Lara’s advice for combating anxiety. 

If you feel you are in need of emotional support, the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) team is available to assist during work hours at 305-284-6604 or visit

Miami-Dade County also provides comprehensive counseling services. For more information, click here.

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