Employee program offers resources, community to manage stress and the impact of COVID-19

A virtual program for Mizzou employees provides an outlet to share experiences, build connections and learn about helpful resources.

Nov. 9, 2020
Contact: Kenny Gerling, 

Cindy Greenwood

Cindy Greenwood

Cindy Greenwood, an executive assistant in the School of Natural Resources, usually enjoys the transition into fall. However, she said that this year is different, and she worries what cooler weather will bring — and how it will impact pandemic precautions.

“I’m a person who needs the change of seasons to kick me into the next thing,” Greenwood said. “But now that comes with the thought: How much longer is it going to be like this?”

To support University of Missouri and UM System employees during this time, the Employee Assistance Program is offering a free virtual course titled “Pandemics and Stress.” The session provides an outlet for people to share their experiences and learn about free anxiety-reducing resources. The next all-virtual session is scheduled from 10:30 a.m. to noon Thursday, Nov. 12, via Zoom, as part MU Human Resource Services’ three-day Fall Training Conference.

James Hunter, session facilitator and director of the Employee Assistance Program, said an important element of the training is that it fosters a sense of community at a time when in-person connections are limited.

“Faculty and staff require a broad set of strategies to manage stressors,” Hunter said. “This session creates a learning community where people can share ideas, gather resources and provide mutual support to help manage crises and stressors.”

Some of the stress-mitigating strategies proposed include taking breaks, eating well-balanced meals, managing appraisal processes and getting enough sleep. The 90-minute discussion also offers advice for those recovering from COVID-19.

“The COVID-19 situation is likely to affect many dimensions of our personal and work lives — from how we parent, to our financial situation, and the manner in which we operate at work,” Hunter said. “’Pandemics and Stress’ offers resources to help people stay engaged at work, manage some of the financial impact of COVID, reassure children and support aging relatives and community members.”

Greenwood attended “Pandemics and Stress” when, at the request of its staff council, the session was offered to employees of the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. She said it was a relief to find others who share her feelings.

“I think the big takeaway was that you can isolate and become your own little world, but that’s not good for you,” Greenwood said. “Make and take time for yourself and don’t feel guilty if, after your fifth Zoom call of the day, you just leave it for a minute. Walk away and think about something else.”

To enroll in “Pandemics and Stress,” visit the course link in myLearn and find out more about the Fall Training Conference.

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