Safeguard your mental health and well-being

Safeguard your mental health and well-being

Design: Lorena Lopez/University of Miami
By Life@TheU

Design: Lorena Lopez/University of Miami

Safeguard your mental health and well-being

By Life@TheU
Learn from the University of Miami Health System’s medical experts about how to take care of your emotional and physical fitness by focusing on self-care on a daily basis.

Self-care involves prioritizing your needs and protecting your well-being, which requires emotional and physical awareness. It’s not a one-size-fit-all recipe, explained Dr. Vanessa Padilla, a clinical psychiatrist at the University of Miami Health System. It also shouldn’t be an intimidating project but something that you incorporate into your daily life until it becomes routine. To get started, Dr. Padilla suggests looking within, getting to know yourself, what you like to do, and what brings you peace. Explore more ways to focus on your well-being through self-care practices.

Recognize anxiety and panic attacks.

Many have experienced new levels of stress and anxiety over the past year. Our autonomic system gets revved up when we feel threatened, explained Felicia Gould, a clinical neuropsychologist with the University of Miami Health System. While anxiety is there to protect us and part of our DNA, living in a chronic state of anxiety and dread with respect to panic attacks could lead to an actual panic disorder. Whether you feel a fleeting moment of panic or a full-blown attack, know the symptoms, which can include rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness, and sweating. Learn specific calming techniques to help you handle panic attacks and disorders.

According to Gould, a true panic disorder has four characteristics, including feeling intensely fearful; avoiding activities because they might trigger an attack; experiencing a panic attack then persistently worrying about having another one over the next month; and experiencing attacks that are frequent, disabling, and disrupt your life. If any of these scenarios apply to you, speak with your primary care provider to rule out underlying medical issues, then consider seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist for a proper diagnosis.

Learn to manage ADHD.

For individuals living with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), it’s important to understand and manage the condition, especially when multitasking and absorbing the overwhelming amount of information in our world. Depending on the individual, ADHD can show up as inattentiveness (traditionally called attention deficit disorder) or with hyperactivity and impulsiveness (traditionally called ADHD). A biologically-based brain disorder, Dr. Barbara J. Coffey, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, highlights the need to bring awareness to the condition, diagnose it, and find helpful ways to live a more manageable life.

Today medical professionals can diagnose the onset of this disorder up to age 12. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, ADHD can lead to psychological problems, which can begin in the late teens to early 20s and include depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, according to Dr. Coffey. Learn more about diagnosing ADHD, finding proper treatment, and supporting a loved one with the disorder.

Gain insight into postpartum depression.

New and expectant mothers may be familiar with postpartum depression and anxiety, which is common among women after childbirth. While the number of cases diagnosed depends on screening, the condition is more common among mothers who have a history of depressive or anxiety disorders and are the most vulnerable to experiencing symptoms post-delivery, explained Dr. Vanessa Padilla, a clinical psychiatrist at the University of Miami Health System. Advocate for the assessment and treatment of maternal mental health and recognize the symptoms of postpartum depression.

Tackle tough conversations.

Talking about mental and physical health with loved ones can be an uncomfortable conversation and one that should be part of an ongoing process, according to neuropsychologist Felicia Gould. Over the years of working with patients, Gould developed techniques that can help guide discussions on sensitive topics with loved ones. Examine her step-by-step approach to having tough talks.

Sometimes, rest requires more than sleep.

If you’re getting enough sleep but are still feeling unusually tired, more sleep may not be the answer. Fight exhaustion with rest and relaxation—or stepping back and doing nothing—which is often attainable through activities other than sleep, explained Firdaus Dhabhar, an expert in psychiatry, microbiology, and immunology at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and a professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Dhabhar added that quality sleep, which contains sufficient periods of deep sleep and rapid eye movement sleep, is more important than how many hours you get, particularly if they are disrupted and restless. Review tips to help you incorporate more rest into your daily life.

Build emotional resilience.

Life comes with its own set of challenges, making disappointment and failure unavoidable. According to Dr. Nicole Mavrides, a psychiatrist with the University of Miami Health System, it’s common to feel down and overwhelmed during times like these. She noted that knowing how to deal with and get through tough moments—whether an internal or external struggle—will help in the long run. Resilient people can move past adversity, stress, or problems without letting it define them, she added. Explore ways to face challenges.

Feeling stressed, burned out, or overwhelmed?

The University of Miami's Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) can help address these concerns. Contact the FSAP team at 305-284-6604 to arrange a one-on-one confidential telehealth visit with one of its Florida-licensed mental health and certified employee assistance professionals. Consultations are free to University faculty and staff members and their eligible dependents. Discover more FSAP resources.

Find resources to support your mental health.

Whether it’s time to check your emotional well-being or explore ways to support a colleague or family member, there are behavioral and mental health options that are available to the University community. Check out University resources to support your mental health.


Access the medical care you need at a UHealth facility or via telehealth by scheduling an appointment. Find additional information about scheduling or call 305-243-4000.

Live Well with UHealth is a series that highlights curated content from articles previously published on UMiami Health News, a website that shares health tips and insights into research discoveries that change lives, brought to you by the experts at the University of Miami Health System. This story highlights the following articles.