From the Desk of Extension-WeCope Adult Stress Program

UW Madison Division of Extension Dodge County has launched a new effort to support Dodge County residents especially during these uncertain times. We are calling it “FROM THE DESK OF EXTENSION-(article topic)”.  This will be a weekly article covering topics from our programmatic areas of agriculture, families, youth, and food/nutrition. The articles will address current issues facing residents through the lens of those program areas. Thank you for supporting our mission to bring relevant research based information and education to the residents of Dodge County.

Pattie Carroll, Human Development & Relationships Educator |  UW-Madison Division of Extension Dodge County

Summer is beginning, and many people are taking a deep breath after a long winter and spring. Although it appears that some people are getting back to “normal”, the stress and anxiety resulting from a worldwide pandemic may linger for others.

Even prior to COVID, the rates of anxiety, depression, and self-harm reported by young people have been increasing. Suicide rates were remaining steady. While one in four Wisconsin youth report that they receive the help they need when they feel distressed, how do we support the three in four that do not get the support they need? Pattie Carroll, Human Development and Relationships educator for UW Madison, Division of Extension, points out that one strategy in helping young people handle stress, is for parents to model self-care. UW Madison Extension in Dodge County offers a seven-week program designed to help adults reduce stress and anxiety.

WeCOPE is an evidence-based program that helps adults cope with life stress. WeCOPE is based on the work of Dr. Judith Moskowitz and has been shown to reduce stress and depression, increase positive affect, and improve health behaviors. Dr. Moskowitz’s work is based on the research that shows that even during life stress, such as serious illness or death of a loved one, positive emotions can and do occur and have positive healthy consequences. For example, among people with diabetes, positive emotion is associated with lower risk of mortality and controlling for negative emotion.

WeCOPE is a 7-session program. Sessions meet once a week for one hour. The seven sessions encourage practicing skills such as mindfulness, savoring, positive reappraisal, gratitude, and goal setting among others. The program is also designed to help participants discover strategies that will help them become more aware of the mind-body connection and gain skills to respond to stress they experience in daily life. Participants will learn several skills such as mindfulness, positive reappraisal, savoring, and gratitude, among others.

The workshops are designed with the learner in mind. Throughout the sessions, there are multiple opportunities for participants to reflect on their personal life and circumstances and share with other participants. Participants will never be asked to disclose anything that they do not want to share. The program also offers opportunities for participants to practice mindful breathing and meditation.

Reducing stress and anxiety is the first step to a healthier life and one of the best things parents can do to model lifelong habits that will improve the coping skills their children will have throughout their lives. Call the Extension office if you are interested in an upcoming class, 920-386-3790.


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