Emotions can help and hinder attention, decision-making, relationships, health, and performance.

So learning to manage them is vital – particularly for teachers and their students – and especially now, with the global pandemic fuelling anxiety.

A third of people in the US have reported feeling stress, anxiety or sadness that was difficult to cope with since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To help manage these feelings, a new 10-hour free online course called Managing Emotions in Times of Uncertainty & Stress is being launched by Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.

A chart showing Covid-19's Widespread Impact On Mental Health

COVID-19 has had a big impact on mental health.
Image: Statista

Open to all

The course is a ‘massive open online course’ (MOOC) – meaning unlimited people can enrol via the internet – and hosted on Coursera, an American MOOC platform launched in 2012.

Designed for school staff, it is a non credit-bearing course focusing on strategies for dealing with uncertainty, stress, and other emotions relevant to the current times, as well as on strategies for helping students to manage their emotions.

It's part of a growing trend, that's seen MOOCs grow in popularity over the last decade. As of last year, they'd attracted more than 110 million learners, with more than 900 universities worldwide offering more than 13,000 courses. Providers include Coursera and edX, a joint venture by Harvard and MIT.

And, of course, the pandemic has driven learning around the world online, with classes disrupted by restrictions and social distancing measures. The UN estimates that nearly 1.6 billion learners were affected by the pandemic, with more than 90% hit by school closures.

Managing stress

With COVID-19 considered to be causing a ‘second pandemic’ of mental health, global agencies are also helping to support the public.

Doing What Matters in Times of Stress: An Illustrated Guide lays out some strategies for dealing with feelings of anxiety and stress. These include ways to ground yourself, focusing on your surroundings and what you are doing rather than getting caught up in negative thoughts.

The guide also recognizes that coping and grounding techniques do not get to the root of the stress and negative thoughts. As such, it dives into ways to identify the underlying thoughts and feelings.

Dévora Kestel, Director of WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Use, says: “This guide is for anyone who experiences stress, ranging from parents and other carers to health professionals working in dangerous situations. It is for both people who flee war, losing all they have, and well-protected people living in communities at peace. Anyone living anywhere can experience high levels of stress.”