Module 1: How Do We Cope Well? 

In uncertain times like these, it’s normal to feel anxiety, stress, loneliness, and other feelings of isolation. Stress effects can be invisible and damaging even if we are not consciously aware of them. We are all concerned for the health and well-being of our families, friends, and the world. This course will help you to understand these feelings and learn ways to cope and communicate! In this module you will: 

  • Evaluate personal coping style.
  • Contemplate and discuss psychology-based insights and recommendations related to coping, media exposure, and facing a crisis/pandemic.
  • Identify personal goals for the pandemic period or term.
  • Practice and reflect on the 3 basic principles of relaxation. 
  • WATCH: Week 1 Class 1 (1 hr 30 min)
  • WATCH: Week 2 Class 2 Recordings - Part 1 (24 min), Part 2 (30 min) & Part 3 (30 min)
  • WATCH: Chill, Drill & Build - This Tedx video is a conversational approach to addressing some myths in the field of psychology and summarizing the key causes of behavior. And that’s not all, Dr. Gurung provides three simple, evidence-based ways to live healthier happier lives. Watch Chill, Drill & Build with Dr. Regan Gurung. If you'd like to join in on the discussion, check out the free Canvas version of the course!
  • LISTEN: Coronavirus Anxiety* -This new illness certainly is frightening and needs attention.  Baruch Fischhoff, PhD, an expert on public perception of risk and human judgment and decision-making  explains why we worry about new risks more than familiar ones, how to calm our anxiety and what are the psychological effects of being quarantined.

    *Note: This interview was conducted early in the progression of the pandemic, and so contains some dated information about the severity and infectivity of COVID-19 as it compares with the seasonal flu.  Related, more up-to-date information on these issues can be found in this article via Live Science. Please listen to the following interview with this in mind and consider his projections in light of this novel situation in which we're learning new information everyday. 



  • INQUIRE: What is Your Coping Style? Take the questionnaire by joining our Free Canvas course
  • IDENTIFY Your Goals: Select a healthy behavior you would like to cultivate this term. It can be something you have always wanted to do and can be as small or large as you want. For example you can decide to spend more time on flexibility, or sleep more, or eat better, or drink less. Record your responses to the following 3 questions: 
  1. What is the behavior you want to change? Be specific.
  2. Set yourself an explicit goal. What will you plan to do on a week by week basis?  What is your goal for the end of the term? Example: I want to spend at least 10 minutes a day, three times a week, stretching. By the end of the term I want to be stretching for 20 minutes a day everyday.
  3. What are all the factors stopping you from doing this behavior right now?  List as many as you can.

For the practice sessions, please be creative and procure household items for use/comfort: pillows, firm blankets, a chair in which you can sit upright, etc. A yoga mat, block, meditation cushion/bench and yoga bolster could be useful if you have them, but there is no need to purchase these items. Really all you need is yourself. Please discontinue any activity that causes you distress or physical discomfort/injury. 

There are formal, or deliberate practices you can engage to counteract an unnecessary or chronic stress response.  The basics of relaxation are simple, and involve

  1. Establishing a posture for relaxation (Watch Finding a Posture for Relaxation & Meditation  (V) 17:01 if this is new to you). 
  2. Engaging breathing practices
  3. Gently anchoring attention in the present


  • PRACTICE: Utilize the recordings below to sample a few relaxation techniques, and replay the ones you like best at least 2-3 times this week.
  1. Sending Breaths to Places in the body (A) 9:47
  2. Breath @ the Belly, Ribs & Chest (V) 11:49 (Note: This can be done simply lying on your back).
  3. Ujjayi Breathing(Yogi Victorious Breath) (V) 10:34
  4. Rocking the Body I  (V) 14:29
  5. Optional: Creating a Conducive Space for Practice  (V) 5:51



  • REFLECT: Colloquially, relaxation has often referred to an activity in which one is engaged recreationally, by choice, or for enjoyment.  This might be anything from listening to music, to watching television, to surfing the web, daydreaming or taking a nap.  For our purposes, however, a relaxation practice is one that has a specific effect on the autonomic nervous system -- it is an intentional activity during which the sympathetic nervous activity (i.e. the fight, flight, freeze or stress response) is reduced by the stimulation or conditioning of the parasympathetic nervous system.  The parasympathetic nervous system is associated with rest, digestion, relaxation, and stress recovery. Thus, relaxation exists in contrast to stress.  Reflect on the following questions: 
  1. Historically, what has "relaxation" meant to you?  Do the activities you participate in to relax actually have this effect?  
  2. How did the relaxation practices this week go for you?  What did you notice?  What did you find challenging and/or helpful?
  3. What other types of activities or practices might you engage in to systematically reduce a chronic/unnecessary stress response?