UTIA

From the Senior Vice President
and Senior Vice Chancellor

An Important Message About Managing Stress from Dr. Elizabeth Strand

March 20, 2020

Thanks to everyone who was able to join us for one of the Fireside Chat meetings today. A recording will be made available at the UTIA Coronavirus website for those unable to join a live session. As we approach the end of the week and look ahead to the weekend, I think we should all be reminded of the need to care for ourselves. Please read the letter below from Dr. Elizabeth Strand, a nationally recognized expert in Veterinary Social Work, and consider how you can take some steps to refresh, relax, and regain a sense of normalcy. You're a vital member of our UTIA family, and I want you to take care of yourself while you also serve others.

Tim

Tim Cross
Senior Vice President and Senior Vice Chancellor

____


Dear Co-workers,

It seems as if the whole world has turned upside down, but you can manage to keep yourself upright mentally by doing simple things to bolster your sense of control. Get enough sleep. Eat well. Keep up small routines like feeding your animals, cleaning the kitchen sink, or packing your lunch. Each of these acts can help give you a sense of control and provide a sense of normalcy in your environment.

Exercise is particularly important to burn off accumulated stress and promote restful sleep. So is getting outdoors. Get some fresh air. Also, while we all need and crave information, during this time of national angst try to watch news programming in doses. Get the information you need, but not so much as to overload you.

Managing stress is a responsibility. If you are not managing your stress, actively and on purpose, you could be at risk of inadvertently spilling your stress over to your family and others, impacting their sense of well-being. So, develop a plan to manage your stress. Perhaps include in your plan writing down, each day, three things for which you are grateful. Taking measure of the good things in your life helps you marshal positive energy and helps prevent feelings of being overwhelmed.

This is a challenging, and perhaps a very challenging, time for every single person in their own way. Each of us needs to take care of ourselves, for our own sake and for the sake of those around us. It all starts with implementing your personal daily plan for self-care.

Take care. Together we will get through this.

Elizabeth

Dr. Elizabeth Bramel Strand, LCSW
Endowed "All Creatures Great and Small"
Clinical Associate Professor
Director, Veterinary Social Work
College of Veterinary Medicine College of Social Work
email: estrand@utk.edu

P.S.

If you'd like to read more, a recent article from NBC New York summarizes useful mental health perspectives on responding to our current challenges.

Other resources for connection and help include:

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Disaster Distress Helpline
The National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline Directory
Taking Care of Your Mental Health in the Face of Uncertainty
Gentle yoga sequence as used for the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Course
Unhelpful Thinking Habits and their antidotes
865-974-HELP Students
865-946-CARE for employees


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