Staying well while working remotely

Being academically proactive, productive and pragmatic

Academics in higher education are experiencing unprecedented change in the way we teach, research, and contribute to institutional and community service. Recognizing that the current COVID-19 pandemic has moved us to reacting to a crisis of alternate delivery modes, readjusting our academic work, and working remotely, we are accepting the reality that we are in this for the long haul and that we can move towards being proactive in our new world of work.

The University of Calgary has three websites dedicated to your well-being:

Campus Mental Health Strategy
Resources and featured events for the University community.

Mental Health During COVID-19
Mental health support and resources for students, faculty and staff.

Staff Wellness
Staff Wellness offers remote support for faculty, staff, and postdoctoral scholars.

The following resources are selected for academic staff, postdoctoral scholars, and graduate students who teach, research, and engage in scholarship, while working remotely and in isolation with multiple responsibilities.

As we navigate through COVID-19, we are faced with increased levels of stress and anxiety. It is important to be mindful of our health, our state of mind and build resiliency in this challenging time. The following resources can help promote your well-being, manage your stress and strengthen your self-care in the long-term. The compiled resources include a podcast, a YouTube video and blogs ranging from mindfulness and self-compassion practices to pragmatic suggestions on self-care and working effectively from home.


Change Your Brain Through Mindfulness and Self-Compassion With Shauna Shapiro

In this podcast by Live happy, Dr. Shauna Shapiro, a clinical psychologist discusses how to use mindfulness and self-compassion practices.

Read more

Academic peeps: I've lived through many disasters. Here is my advice on "productivity"

Dr. Aisha Ahmad shares some wisdom on working in academia in a crisis by providing some pragmatic suggestions on how to care for yourself and keep productive.

Read more

Breathing Meditation: UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center

In this 5-minute YouTube video, Diana Winston the director of Mindfulness Education at UCLA SEMEL’s Institute’s Mindful Awareness Research Center leads a breathing meditation for mindfulness.

Watch video (YouTube)

Zoom Exhaustion is Real. Here are Six ways to Find Balance and Stay Connected

Steven Hickman, Psy.D., executive director of the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion, offers a timely perspective on managing our new virtual reality.

Read more

“Psychology Works” Fact Sheet: Working from Home During COVID, With and Without Children

The Canadian Psychological Association provides some tips to work effectively from home.

Download (PDF)

Proactive Ergonomic Program

University of Calgary’s working from home suggestions for office ergonomic solutions.

Learn more

This is not business as usual. We are in the middle of a pandemic and it is a time of crisis. In our academic work, expectations will continue from students, colleagues, administrators and supervisors. It is how we manage these expectations that we can thrive, practice self-care and manage anxiety (ours and others). Dr Ahmad’s message is simple, “cut out the noise” take time to adjust, and be compassionate with yourself. Easier said than done, especially when the article revision is due, students are contacting you at all hours, and you are learning how to host a Zoom session. The following resources are selected to provide pragmatic information on how to stabilize in a crisis, identify what is manageable, and take steps towards a new and unknown future.


The 15 minute/day Academic Writing Challenge

Writing and scholarship can be an isolated activity, unless you are working as a team. To keep the momentum there are online writing groups – some involve a fee, others are free (or set up your own).

Learn more

'On a Desert Island With Your Students’: Professors Discuss the Weirdness of Teaching Remotely in a Pandemic

Beckie Supiano writes in the Chronicle of Higher Education about student expectations and considerations for instructors teaching remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more

Why You Should Ignore All That Coronavirus-Inspired Productivity Pressure

Dr Aisha Ahmad outlines a Stages framework for managing our academic work during the COVID-19 crisis: Security, The Mental Shift, and Embrace a New Normal.

Read more

Affective Labor: The Need for, and Cost of, Workplace Equanimity

Lee Skallerup Bessette discusses the human impact of the unexpected transition of higher education courses to online delivery and suggests we embrace all that we are experiencing as normal.

Read more

Reading recommendations

Now is the time to find those books on your shelf that you have been meaning to read. Here are some recommended titles:

  • Self-compassion by Kristin Neff (2011)
  • How to be a happy academic by Alexander Clark and Bailey Sousa (2018)

Integrity Hour with Dr. Sarah Eaton, PhD, University of Calgary

An informal virtual drop-in session to ask questions and get help with academic integrity issues related to teaching and learning. Contact Sarah Eaton for details and to join.

Learn more

Writing in suspended time: Approaches to creativity and creative thinking

Novelist, essayist, cultural commentator and UCalgary English prof Aritha van Herk on sparking a creative practice during extraordinary times.

Read more

Often the hardest changes to understand and adjust to are the ones that are unexpected and out of our control – a recession, a global pandemic, or a major disaster, for example. Changes of this magnitude can be anxiety inducing, but your experience of them can be made better or worse depending on your reaction and your attitude. These resources will give you some strategies to manage your anxiety levels while working from home.


Coping with change

This article and short YouTube video by MindTools explores the different ways in which people tend to approach change, the reactions they might have, and how to best cope with it.

Learn more

100 Smart Ways to Calm Your Anxious Mind

This blog by licensed clinical social worker, Linda Esposito, contains 100 different ways to calm your mind when you are feeling anxious.

Read more

Evidence based ways to flourish in challenging times

This blog by Dr. Lianne Tomfohr-Madsen, a clinical psychologist in the Department of Psychology at the University of Calgary, provides evidence-based ways to manage stress and anxiety.

Read more

How to do progressive muscle relaxation

This step-by-step guide to progressive muscle relaxation by Anxiety Canada will help you learn what relaxation feels like and how to recognize when you are starting to get tense during your remote workday.

Learn more

Dealing with problems in a structured way

Feeling overwhelmed? The Centre for Addictions and Mental Health has outlined some steps you can take to resolve issues that arise while working remotely.

Download PDF


Questions? Please contact: