Strategies to Develop Healthy Coping Techniques

Strategies to Develop Healthy Coping Techniques

A downloadable version of this guide, the student writing prompt, rubrics and student handout are attached at the bottom of the article

Lesson Title: Strategies to Develop Healthy Coping Techniques

Brief Summary: Students will learn a variety of specific coping techniques that will allow them to handle strong emotions in a healthy way. This includes the importance of one’s attitude in approaching stressful situations.  Also discussed is the power of positive versus negative self-talk, all-or-nothing thinking (cognitive distortion), mindfulness and emotional regulation. As part of this lesson, students will view a brief video that reinforces this content in an engaging way. 

PLEASE NOTE: It is typical for adolescents to have mood swings and strong emotional responses on occasion. However, if changes in mood or behaviors are impairing a student’s ability to function academically or socially, please contact the school counselor or district Mental Health Professional.

Response Guidelines

If a student asks a question or shares information that you don’t have the answers to or know how to respond to, take the following steps:

   1. Stay calm.

   2. Validate what the student said and how brave they were to share.

   3. Let them know that you want to help in any way possible while protecting their privacy.

   4. If the response indicates an emergency, get help immediately.

   5. If the response does not indicate an emergency, get help as soon as class is over.

Lesson Objectives

  1. Students will be able to define attitude, cognitive distortion, grief, mindfulness, and self-image.
  2. Students will learn how strong emotions can be expressed in healthy ways
  3. Students will be able to identify specific coping strategies they can employ in the future

Shared vocabulary:

  1. Cognitive Distortion is a way of thinking in extremes, also known as ‘all or nothing’ thinking. For example- EVERYONE hates me! NOTHING ever goes right. I’m ALWAYS last.  Helping students reframe these statements can be helpful.
  2. Grief is defined as “deep sorrow, especially that which is caused by a loved one’s death.”
  3. Mindfulness is defined as “a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness of the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.”
  4. Self-image is the mental picture one has of oneself which can include physical attributes but also about internal factors like intelligence.
  5. Coping skills help you to effectively deal with the negative stressors in life and respond in a healthy way.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Strong emotions are expressed in many different ways. The best way is to be able to calmly verbalize how one is feeling instead of acting or reacting physically.
  2. Emotions are healthy and normal, but we must control how they are expressed.
  3. Coping skills, such as practicing mindfulness to regulate strong emotions, can help you effectively deal with the negative stressors in life and respond in a healthy way.

Upon completion of viewing online content:

Teachers: Please have students complete the activity on the following page. As we connect today’s lesson to our curriculum, please use the appropriate grade-level rubric to assess your students. 

Continue the Conversation:

  1. The connectivity between thinking-feeling-doing: How can we connect what we think about the content we just reviewed to how we are feeling? What actions can you take to apply this information in a meaningful way?
  2. Self, Others, World: How can you use the information you learned in this lesson to help yourself? To help your friends and family? To help other people with mental illnesses?
  3. Mental health is about awareness: What awareness did today’s content bring about in you? Identify some actions or behaviors you may be able to replace with healthier options. 

Additional activities/resources/suggested reading:

Strategies to Develop Healthy Coping Techniques

Question: Write a brief description of a time when you used a coping strategy to help calm yourself or someone else when feeling overwhelmed or when facing a difficult experience.

Grading rubrics for all grades are attached at the bottom.