Coping Skills

Objective: To differentiate between healthy versus unhealthy coping skills

Coping Skills

Objective: To differentiate between healthy versus unhealthy coping skills


“Me too” 


Stressor-Anything that causes tension or pressure in one’s life

Use a moment of silence and instruct participants to identify and write down three stressors in their life on a post-it note. Post-its may remain anonymous, as all stressors will ultimately be read in front of peers.

Use the protocol Mix and Switch to have participants trade their post-its. Next, make a circle around the room after the mix and switch has been completed. Each person will read the post-it notes with the stressor written on it.

As they read each stressor, instruct those who agree with or identify with the same stressor by wiggling/shaking their fingers quietly in the air to indicate “me too.”

*Capitalize on the stressors that many colleagues share to normalize how common stressors are in the workplace.

Activity #2:

“Is it Healthy?”


Coping Skills-how we respond to and manage life stressors (May be Healthy or Unhealthy)

Write “Healthy” and “Unhealthy” on the whiteboard to begins lists of both healthy and unhealthy coping skills.  Use the following examples to have the group discuss and shout out whether the coping skills should be written under the “healthy” column or “unhealthy” column.

*going on a run
*calling a friend
*venting daily to your partner at home about your work stress
*physical or verbal aggression
*talking to a mental health professional
*gossiping with colleagues about someone who hurt you
*listening to music
*screaming into a pillow
*punching walls

Put participants  into groups of three to four to reflect on Healthy vs. Unhealthy coping skills. Use the protocol Numbered Heads Together and instruct each team to prepare one healthy and one unhealthy coping skill to share with the group.

 Each team shares using Whip Around as facilitator continues to place coping skills in appropriate columns.

*If staff seem to misidentify a coping skill as healthy or unhealthy, capitalize on the learning moment through discussion of why a coping skill was identified healthy vs. unhealthy. It is okay to acknowledge that some coping skills can be healthy for some people, and unhealthy for others. For example, a glass of wine may be healthy for some but risky behavior for others. 

Activity #3:

“Journal it Out”

Instruct staff to take out a piece of loose-leaf paper or a fresh page in a notebook. Give the group ten minutes of journaling time to reflect on one unhealthy coping skill they would like to avoid, and one healthy coping skill they would like to practice more often. Staff can journal through words, drawings, poetry, or any other creative form within the context of their “journal.”  

Following the ten minutes of journaling time, have staff gather into small groups of three to four to reflect on the following discussion questions:

What did ten minutes of time dedicated to self-reflection feel like?
When could journaling be a healthy coping skill to use in your life?
What was more therapeutic for you: ten minutes of quiet time or ten minutes of creative expression? 
What other coping skills can be utilized in a classroom setting to help reset a struggling student or an entire classroom of students?