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No matter how mentally healthy, resilient, or happy you are, there comes a time in every person’s life when he or she will need to cope with something difficult. Coping is something we all do, whether we do it consciously or without thinking.
It’s watching a funny movie when we’re sad, calling a friend to help you get through a breakup, or going out for a drink after a workday that didn’t go well.
Some ways we cope are healthy and build resilience, while others simply help us avoid the real problems or encourage destructive behavior.
In this piece, we’ll provide tons of examples of healthy coping techniques, a few examples of some negative coping methods, and some worksheets that can help you learn how to cope in a more positive way.
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Before you start reading this article, I recommend you to download these 3 Positive CBT exercises for free. With these exercises, you will not just be able to understand positive CBT on a theoretical level, but you’ll also have the tools to apply it in your work with clients or students.
You can download the PDF for free on this page: https://bit.ly/2VmfP5r
60+ Essential Positive Coping Skills
There are nearly infinite ways to cope. We all use different methods that suit our unique personalities and needs. You may find that what causes stress in one individual will help another to cope.
It’s not important whether you cope like everyone else; all that matters is that you find effective coping methods that will help you build resilience and thrive!
That being said, don’t beat yourself up if you just need a little distraction sometimes. Below, you’ll find Blake Flannery’s (2016) master list of coping methods and skills organized into categories. Whatever you need in the moment, there is probably at least one activity mentioned below that will help!
- Write, draw, paint, photography
- Play an instrument, sing, dance, act
- Take a shower or a bath
- Take a walk, or go for a drive
- Watch television or a movie
- Watch cute kitten videos on YouTube
- Play a game
- Go shopping
- Clean or organize your environment
- Take a break or vacation
- Talk to someone you trust
- Set boundaries and say “no”
- Write a note to someone you care about
- Be assertive
- Use humor
- Spend time with friends and/or family
- Serve someone in need
- Care for or play with a pet
- Role-play challenging situations with others
- Encourage others
- Make a gratitude list
- Brainstorm solutions
- Lower your expectations of the situation
- Keep an inspirational quote with you
- Be flexible
- Write a list of goals
- Take a class Act opposite of negative feelings
- Write a list of pros and cons for decisions
- Reward or pamper yourself when successful
- Write a list of strengths
- Accept a challenge with a positive attitude
- Exercise or play sports
- Catharsis (yelling in the bathroom, punching a punching bag)
- Get enough sleep
- Eat healthy foods
- Get into a good routine
- Eat a little chocolate
- Limit caffeine
- Deep/slow breathing
- Pray or meditate
- Enjoy nature
- Get involved in a worthy cause
- Drop some involvement
- Prioritize important tasks
- Use assertive communication
- Schedule time for yourself
The Mental Health Wellness Week (MHWW) website also lists some coping skills, some that are positive and encourage mental health, and others that are destructive or used to avoid your problems.
The good coping skills include:
- Meditation and relaxation techniques
- Having time to yourself
- Physical activity or exercise
- Spending time with friends
- Finding humor
- Spending time on your hobbies
- Quality time with your pets
- Getting a good night’s sleep
- Eating healthy
Negative coping skills include:
- Excessive alcohol
- Ignoring or bottling up feelings
- Taking sedatives
- Taking stimulants
- Working too much
- Avoiding your problems
Aside from using the positive coping methods, the MHWW website also suggests ten tips you can put to use to strengthen your mental state and build resilience to life’s stressors:
- Build up your confidence
- Accept compliments when they are given to you
- Be sure to make time for your loved ones
- Give support to others when needed and accept support from others when needed
- Create and stick to a realistic budget
- Volunteer in your community
- Find ways to manage your stress on a regular basis
- Share your burdens with others, especially those who have been through the same things
- Identify and address your shifting moods
- Learn how to be at peace with yourself
While none of these tips are easy to follow, they are sure to provide you with the strength and resilience you need to navigate difficult times in your life (MHWW.org).
If you’re still looking for more coping methods, see this list of 99 – yes, 99 – ways to cope. This resource also has suggestions for positive coping, as well as a quick three-minute video on feeling stressed or anxious.
6 Coping Skills Worksheets for Adults
There are tons of great coping worksheets out there, but we don’t want this post to stretch on to infinity, so we’ll just list a few of the best ones here.
This worksheet is a bright and colorful one that can be put to use for adolescents, teens, and adults who have dealt with trauma in their past.
The first part instructs you to list five strengths you already have.
The second provides space to answer the question “Which strengths helped me deal with my trauma experience?”
The third section has space for you to list up to five strengths you have gained because of the traumatic experience.
The final section gives you an opportunity to write down how you feel about your new strengths.
This worksheet can help you see the silver lining of your traumatic experience, and appreciate the good that has come out of the bad.
Masking Your Feelings
This worksheet encourages you to think about how you carefully manicure your presentation to others. It explains that we all “wear masks” at one point or another in order to hide our true feelings from others and pretend to feel something we don’t really feel.
It presents some examples of imaginary masks, like acting fine when you don’t feel fine or acting angry when you really feel hurt.
Now, the creative part: at the end of the worksheet, there is space to draw the mask or masks you frequently use to hide your feelings.
This worksheet can be helpful for older kids and for adults since we all wear masks sometimes. Put your creativity and imagination to use, and think of all the times you put on a “mask” to hide how you feel.
Click here to see this worksheet and give it a try.
My Personal Coping Skills List
This colorful worksheet allows you to list the coping methods in several categories that work for you.
The categories include:
- Emotional Release
- Thought Challenge
- Access to Your Higher Self
In the distraction section, you can write down the skills and techniques that are most helpful for distracting you from negative and/or irrational thoughts.
In the grounding section, you will list the ways that you can ground yourself in the moment and keep your mind focused on what is happening around you. Mindfulness techniques are a great way to do this!
The emotional release category includes actions that help you vent, express your feelings, and move on, like screaming into a pillow or punching a punching bag.
The self-love section is where you can write down how you successfully practice self-compassion and show yourself appreciation, like treating yourself to a massage or writing down good things about yourself.
In the thought challenge section, you can list the ways that you can effectively challenge the negative and unhelpful thoughts that arise. Replacing these with positive and realistic thoughts can be a great coping tool.
The section on accessing your higher self is for techniques and exercises you do that help you feel like your best self. For example, this may be volunteering for others or working on extending compassion to everyone around you.
If you aren’t great at the skills in any of these categories, that’s okay! Just write down why you struggle with it and what you plan to do to improve your skills.
Click here to see an example of this worksheet.
Coping with Stress Worksheets 1 & 2
Kirsten Schuder, a mental health professional, lists several handy worksheets for coping with stress in this article.
First, Worksheet 1 will allow you to list all the physiological signs and symptoms of stress, brainstorm some common responses to stress, and rate your levels of stress with each event or situation that can act as a trigger. This worksheet is a great way to begin dealing with your stress.
- The first column is where you list potentially triggering situations, like traffic.
- The second column is where you list the physical symptoms of stress that the situation can make you feel.
- In the third column, you list the accompanying emotional responses to stress.
- Finally, you rate your stress level from 1 to 10 in the fourth column.
Worksheet 2 will help you to brainstorm new and healthier ways to cope with your stress.
- In the first section, you will define potentially triggering situations, both those that you have control over and those that you do not have control over.
- In the second section, you will list the ways that you can control the situation or identify why you cannot control it.
- In the third section, you have space to write how you can cope with your situation in the moment.
- The final section allows you to brainstorm ways to cope with the situation that can reduce or eliminate your stress.
After describing these worksheets, Schuder also addresses how you can identify healthy boundaries for yourself, list the unhealthy coping methods that you may find yourself drawn to, and find ways to cope that are healthy and effective.
These worksheets will help you come up with a solid and well thought-out plan for dealing with stress and overcoming urges to cope in unhealthy ways.
This is a great worksheet for anyone suffering from panic or anxiety that leads you to imagine the worst possible outcomes.
In the first section of the worksheet, you will list the catastrophe you are afraid of and rate how bad you think it will be on a scale from 0 to 100.
In the second section, you will answer the following questions:
- How likely is this event to happen?
- How awful would it be if this did happen?
- Just supposing the worst did happen, what would I do to cope?
In the last section, you have space to list the positive and reassuring things you want to say to yourself about the “catastrophe” now that you have answered all of the questions above. Finally, you will rate how bad you think this catastrophe will be once more.
Simply answering these questions and thinking through the likelihood and possible outcomes of the catastrophe you are fixated on can help you decrease your anxiety about this potential situation significantly.
Click here if you’d like to give this worksheet a try.
If you’re still hungry for more coping worksheets, check out this giant PDF with tons of resources to help you cope with any problem you may be experiencing.
Printable Coping Skills Worksheets for Youth
Since kids are unfortunately not immune to stress, coping is something they must learn as well. They may not have the same stressors as adults, but their problems are just as difficult to face as the problems of their elders.
This website is an excellent resource for learning about kids and coping. It emphasizes that good coping skills must be learned, no one is born with all the coping skills they will need.
Coping skills can be learned in many ways:
- By observing others, including parents, other family members, friends or classmates, teachers and other adults in the learning environment, and from entertainment.
- Through trial and error – we all need to learn what methods work best for us, which can only be accomplished through testing different methods and reflecting on our results.
- Through education programs, especially those geared towards teens and pre-teens; starting early can have a huge impact on coping skills later in life.
We can’t put learning methods 1 or 2 to use in this article, but we can make suggestions for educational worksheets and tools. Some of the best coping worksheets for kids are listed below. All of these worksheets can be found at this website.
Coping Worksheets for Young Children (under 10)
To help children identify and work through difficult feelings, it can help to engage them in a fun activity. They may not be having fun when they start, but they just might be laughing again when they finish.
This worksheet is a simple one – it’s just an outline of a body!
The companion worksheet includes the instructions for putting the body outline to use. There are many ways to use this worksheet, including having your child draw what different emotions look like, drawing a diary of their school day, and splitting the outline in half with a vertical line to compare the good and bad things they have heard, seen, or done recently.
There is also a suggestion box for what to focus on in each part of the body outline:
- Head – ideas, worries, hopes, and fears
- Eyes – sights (past, present, and future)
- Ears – sounds (past, present, and future)
- Mouth – spoken words (past, present, and future)
- Hands – Actions
- Chest – Feelings
- Stomach – Instincts, urges, “I wanted to…”
- Feet – Movement
The best opportunity this worksheet presents is to talk through whatever your child draws. Even if it doesn’t make sense to you, let your child draw or write whatever comes to them and encourage them to discuss it with you.
Breathing exercises are a great way to fight stress, anxiety, and feeling overwhelmed. The potential benefits are not exclusive to adults – kids can get in on this practice too.
This worksheet outlines the steps you can read aloud with your child. If you want to see all of them, click the link, but we’ll outline the exercise here:
- Share with your child how deep breathing can help when you’re angry or nervous.
- Help them focus their attention on their breathing.
- Instruct them to get into a good posture for deep breathing (sitting up straight, feet on the floor)
- Walk them through the long, slow breaths.
- Do five deep breaths together.
- Encourage them to practice deep breathing regularly, and practice it with them.
This easy, simple, and free coping method is a win for both parent and child!
Another exercise borrowed from mindfulness training, the “spaghetti body” is simply a child’s version of the body relaxation technique.
This worksheet is also an exercise that you can walk your child through, following the instructions along with them.
Again, you can click the link above to see the full set of steps, but the gist of the worksheet can be summed up as:
- Explain that your body can get tight when you are stressed or anxious
- Compare a relaxed body to wet spaghetti noodles
- Walk your child through tightening and flexing their whole body
- Switch back and forth between instructing your child to scrunch and tighten one part of their body, then loosen it to the “spaghetti” state
- Tell your child how this exercise can help them relax and encourage them to practice it regularly
This is a great exercise to join in on with your child. If they’re having trouble with any of the steps, it may help to model the steps for them.
Be sure to explain that this exercise is called “the turtle” but there is no actual turtle involved, or you may be dealing with a disappointed child!
This exercise will involve body relaxation as well as self-compassion.
To begin, follow these steps:
- Have your child stand with their feet a little bit apart and shoulders tall.
- Tell them to crouch down so their bottom is all the way down to their heels and wrap their arms around their legs.
- Next, they should put their chin or nose on their knees, if that feels comfortable.
- Finally, the fun part! While in this position, have your child give him- or herself a big, warm hug. They can do this as long as they need to in order to feel safe and happy.
- Encourage them to practice this exercise frequently.
Again, feel free to walk through this technique with your child, for both your benefit and theirs.
Coping Worksheets for Older Children and Teens (10 and up)
Kids and adolescents over 10 have a wider range of possibilities when it comes to understanding and learning coping methods. With that in mind, you can try one of these worksheets that are geared towards more mature youth.
This worksheet uses the metaphor of boiling pots for feeling overly stressed, angry, or anxious. There are three columns with pots, one at a simmer, one at a rolling boil, and one boiling over.
There are two rows, one labeled “My Coping Skills” and “How Adults Help Me.”
For the first row, the goal listed underneath the simmering pot is to simply keep it simmering! The goal for the rolling boil is to return it to a simmer. The goal for the boiling over pot is also to return it to a simmer, although it will be more difficult at this point.
In the second row, the goal listed under the simmering pot is to maintain the simmer, to keep it going smoothly. The goal under the rolling boil is to lower the heat, stir the food, or add something to decrease the boil. The goal under the boiling over pot is to immediately remove the pan from the heat, protect anyone nearby from accidental spills, and call for help in the kitchen.
These two rows and goals correspond to the responsibilities of both the child and the adult when stress, anxiety, or anger take over. The child is responsible for bringing their boiling “pot” back to a simmer, and the adult’s responsibility is to aid them in their goal.
The child can use this worksheet by writing down some coping skills for each situation. In the first column with the simmering pot, they can write coping methods that help them maintain their happy thoughts and good mood. Under the second pot, they should write ways to cope when they’re feeling a little off or out of sorts. For the third pot, they must identify some of the most powerful coping skills at their disposal, especially ones that work fast, like deep breathing and sharing their feelings with an adult.
They also have an opportunity to tell the adults in their life how they can help when the pot is starting to boil. For each situation, they can write down things that an adult can do to help maintain their happy mood, calm them down, or help them address some really bad moods.
This worksheet is a great way for kids to think and plan ahead for stressful and difficult situations that will arise, but it’s also a great way for them to let adults in on how they’re feeling and what they need when the going gets tough. Complete this exercise with your child, and you will learn about how to help them when they need you most.
This is another technique that is frequently used by adults to address stress, anxiety, or anger. Employing imagery when you are feeling overwhelmed can be a great way to take you back to feeling calm and collected. Kids are especially good at using imagery, with their vivid imagination and frequent practice.
This worksheet lists three main ways to use imagery, although there are many ways to use it, and two of the key factors to using it effectively.
The two keys to effective imagery are:
1) Using all of your senses to fully immerse yourself in the imagery.
2) Breathing deeply and calmly throughout the exercise.
Three great ways to employ imagery are:
1. Imagining a relaxing place
This can be a place you have been, a place you have soon in pictures or in movies, or a place you think up all on your own. It is a safe place where you feel happy and comfortable. Maybe it’s a beach, a forest meadow, or a fun family vacation spot. Wherever it is, the goal is to focus all of your senses on this place and use your full imagination to go there in your mind.
2. Imagining a soothing person
Soothing people can be a great thing for kids to imagine when they are stressed or upset. This could be a trusted friend, an adult who makes you feel safe, a fictional character you like, or even a higher power if you believe in one. Whoever you choose to imagine, focus your attention on what they look like, what they say, and what it feels like to be with them.
3. Imagining a secret lockbox
Secret lockboxes are places in your mind where you keep the memories, thoughts, and dreams that are most special to you. It is a safe place where you can visit whenever you want, but no one else can get in. Imagine the lockbox in your mind, and construct a clear picture of what it looks like. Next, think about how it is secured. Maybe it requires a key, a code, or magic words to open. Maybe it’s hidden somewhere difficult to reach, like on top of a mountain or at the bottom of the sea. Imagine yourself opening the box and looking through it to remember all of the good things you put in there.
Imagery can be a powerful tool, especially in a particularly difficult moment. Encourage your child to put their imagination to good use.
Plus & Minus
If you have a child that loves making lists, thinking about pros and cons, or just coming at a problem with a well thought-out plan, they will love this worksheet.
The Pluses & Minuses worksheet helps kids to think through a difficult decision by listing the pluses and minuses, or pros and cons, of each choice.
For each choice, the worksheet provides space to write down the pluses and minuses of choosing each option and the pluses and minuses of NOT choosing each option.
It’s a simple worksheet but it can be a great help when faced with difficult decisions. Help your child complete this worksheet, making suggestions if they can’t think of any, and you can be involved with some good decision-making practice.
This is a slightly more mature version of the relaxation exercises for younger children, and much closer to the adult version of relaxation techniques.
It’s called Progressive Muscle Relaxation, and it can be done anywhere and anytime your child feels overwhelmed with emotion.
The full steps can be seen here, but this is the basic outline:
- Sit or stand tall, but comfortably, and close your eyes.
- Take three deep breaths through your nose.
- Start from your feet and work your way up to your head, totally relaxing all the muscles in each area.
- If you want to, you can take another relaxing sweep from your head back down to your feet.
- Remember that this practice, like many others, is most effective when you do it regularly.
- You can also walk through this exercise with your child and get double the relaxation!
Other Coping Skills
These are just a few of the coping skills kids can use to deal with stress, anxiety, anger, and other difficult emotions. For more ideas, see the following websites:
- http://www.unstressyourself.com/best-coping-skills-worksheets/ (link)
Coping Skills Worksheets for Mental Illness
Coping with mental illness can be extremely difficult, but many of us will experience it at one point or another in our lives. Given this reality, it is essential to learn the skills and tools we can use to combat the negative effects of mental illness before it strikes.
There are several effective ways to cope with depression, many of them borrowed from cognitive behavioral therapy. The three worksheets below should help you deal with the difficult feelings that come with depression.
Simple Thought Record
Sometimes all we need to face our negative thoughts and feelings is to identify and confront them. This simple worksheet is a good way to do that.
There are only three columns:
1) Situation (who, what, when, where)
2) Feelings (what you felt, how strongly you felt it)
3) Thoughts (what was going through your mind, thoughts or images)
In the first column, write down what happened to trigger a negative reaction. In the second column, note the emotions you were feeling and rate them on intensity from 0 to 100. In the final column, enter what thoughts and images came to mind as you dealt with this negative reaction. Did anything pop up that was unwelcome or seemingly came out of nowhere?
Simply identifying what is happening to us when we are stressed and upset is the first step towards successfully addressing it.
This worksheet will be available for download soon.
Challenging Negative Thoughts
This worksheet describes the problem with those pesky negative and irrational thoughts that plague all of us from time to time.
When we are feeling depressed, it’s much more difficult to push these thoughts to the side or challenge them, but these questions can help:
- Is there substantial evidence for my thought?
- Is there evidence contrary to my thought?
- Am I attempting to interpret this situation without all the evidence?
- What would a friend think about this situation?
- If I look at the situation positively, how is it different?
- Will this matter a year from now? How about five years from now?
Asking yourself these simple but telling questions can help you move from fretting to feeling good! Or, at least feeling better.
Check out this worksheet here.
This coping method is more of a long-term, maintenance method than an in-the-moment way to feel better, but it can be a powerful tool nonetheless.
Simply noticing the good things in your life is a great way to protect yourself against the negative. Acknowledging the positive can construct a buffer of “good” around you that makes it harder for the “bad” to get in.
The exercise is simple: you just write down what you are grateful for!
This worksheet provides space for up to five good things for each day of the week. It’s recommended to do this exercise at night, but anytime that works best for you is fine.
Give this exercise a try, and encourage the flow of gratitude!
Anxiety is another common problem we face. Usually, we experience anxiety as a normal part of life and we are very effective at combating it, but when it gets to be too much to deal with, there are many coping methods at our disposal.
This worksheet provides several different ways to combat anxiety and panic on the spot. If you are feeling overwhelmed by anxiety, give one of these activities a try:
- Overbreathing (breathing forcefully, fast and deep)
- Breathe through a straw (hold your nose and breathe only through the straw in your mouth)
- Hold your breath (for 30 seconds or however long works for you)
- Run quickly on the spot, lifting your knees
- Step up and down on a stair (you can hold a handrail for balance)
- Tense all the muscles in your body
Spinning and Shaking
- Sit in an office chair and spin as fast as you can
- Spin around while standing (but keep a chair handy to sit in after!)
- Shake your head from side to side then look straight ahead with open eyes
- Put your head between your legs then sit up quickly
- Lie down and relax for at least one minute then sit up quickly
- Stare at yourself in a mirror without blinking for two minutes
- Stare at a blank wall, concentrating hard
- Stare at a fluorescent light for one minute, then try to read something
These activities, as silly as they may seem, can help snap you out of an anxiety episode or panic.
Once you try them, use the second column labeled “Symptoms & Thoughts” to record how you felt and what you were thinking during the activity. Next, rate your anxiety after completing the activity on a scale from 0 to 100.
This worksheet will be available for download soon.
For this worksheet, you will think of different outcomes that may result from things that can happen to you, one positive and one negative.
We often get bogged down with worrying thoughts about all the bad things that can happen, but this exercise can help balance out the thoughts. Think of it as coming up with a “glass half full” way to think about things as well as a “glass half empty” one.
The worksheet is simple, with only two columns:
1) Negative “What if…?”
2) Positive “What if…?”
On each side, write down the possible outcomes of the same situation. For example, if you are nervous about giving a presentation, you might write “What if I freeze and can’t speak?” on the left side, and “What if I do well?” or “What if I stumble, but laugh about it?” on the right.
This exercise can help you balance out the good and bad potential outcomes, and take on a more realistic outlook. Click here to give it a try.
Another common ailment is bipolar disorder, a disorder that can cause depression as well as sudden and intense mood and energy swings. Many of the worksheets for depression can help, but there are a couple that are especially helpful for those struggling with bipolar disorder.
Saying No to Negative Thinking
This worksheet is another simple one, with only three columns:
1) Negative Thought
2) Rational Response
3) New Thought
The goal of this technique is to challenge your negative and/or irrational thoughts and replace them with a new, more positive and more realistic thought.
First, you write down the negative thought that is nagging at you, like “Everyone hates me.”
Next, you write down the rational response, perhaps something like “There are 7 billion people in the world, and there’s no way they all hate me.”
Finally, you write down a new thought to replace the negative one, such as “Some people may not like me, but that’s okay because I like me.”
To learn more about this technique and see an example worksheet, click here.
Coping Resources Worksheet
This is a great way to identify the sources of your stress and sadness, some resources you can use to help you cope, some of the barriers you have run into that hinder coping, and the strategies you can use to overcome the barriers.
This worksheet can be considered a master plan for combating stress caused by any mental health issues, including depression, anger, anxiety, or irrational thinking.
There are four columns:
1) Psychosocial problems & stressors
2) Coping resources
3) Barriers to effective coping
4) Strategies for overcoming barriers
The first column is split into three parts, current problems and stressors, recent past problems and stressors, and anticipated future problems and stressors. Write down at least one problem or stressor in each category.
The second column is where you can identify the resources that help you cope (perhaps some of these worksheets could make the cut for inclusion!). This can be coping skills, exercises, and techniques that you have found to be helpful.
The third column is your space for thinking of the things that can get in the way of your coping, like strict deadlines at work, tensions in your personal relationships, etc.
The final column provides space to write down how you can address these barriers to effective coping, like planning ahead to increase the chances of meeting those deadlines or attending couples counseling to address the problems in your relationship before they get in the way of coping.
This worksheet will be available for download soon.
Substance Abuse, Recovery & Relapse Prevention Worksheets
Substance abuse can be such a huge drain on our energy, our resources, and our relationships. Even though we all know that these negative effects are potential outcomes of substance abuse, the addiction can make it extremely difficult to pull away.
These worksheets are intended to help you face this challenge head-on, although they should not be used in place of interacting with a qualified professional. Hopefully, they can be a useful complement to professional treatment.
Multimodal Treatment Plan
This worksheet is a great way to start your journey towards wellness. It can be employed for just about any behavioral or mental health problem, including substance abuse and addiction. Of course, it should complement treatment from a qualified professional rather than standing on its own.
It lists the seven different modes or factors that influence recovery, provides space to write down the problems you have in these areas, and prompts you to decide what you need to stop or do less of and what you need to start or do more of to facilitate recovery.
The seven modes include:
- Behavior (actions, coping strategies, what you do or avoid doing)
- Affect/Emotions (what you feel and what makes you feel this way)
- Sensations (what you see, hear, taste, smell, touch, what makes you feel pain or tension, your sexuality)
- Imagery (the pictures in your mind, your self-image, fantasies)
- Cognition (thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, values, opinions, and thought patterns)
- Interpersonal (communication with others, relationships)
- Drugs/Biology (physical exercise, diet, sexual health, substance use)
In each mode, identify the problems you encounter. For example, if you are struggling with substance abuse, you might write “putting myself in dangerous situations” for the behavior modality, or “wanting to use when I get depressed” in the affect/emotions category.
For each modality, think of the problems you face and make a plan to stop or do less of the things that do not facilitate your recovery and start or do more of the things that do facilitate your recovery.
You can access the worksheet here.
This worksheet can be an extremely useful resource for identifying when and why the strongest cravings come on, which is the first step to learning how to effectively combat them.
In the first column, identify the situation in which a craving arose, including what happened, where you were when it occurred, and who you were with.
The second column is where you write down the thoughts that went through your mind when the craving hit, like “I’m weak and I’m useless, I might as well give in.”
The third column is for feelings, where you identify the emotions and physical sensations you felt when the craving hit. You might write something like “knot in my stomach, hopeless.”
The fourth column provides space to rate the intensity of your craving from 0 to 100.
The final column is the most important one. This is where you brainstorm an alternative, more balanced thought, and coping response. For example, you might write something like “I overreacted to the situation. It was only a small issue. Next time I can practice deep breathing to work through it.”
This worksheet can help you find out when you tend to be most vulnerable to cravings and gives you a chance to put together a plan of action for when the next craving hits.
Relapse Prevention Plan
This worksheet can be an excellent resource for outlining a plan to keep you clean and sober.
The first part provides space for you to list up to three coping skills that can help you resist the temptation to use again.
The second part instructs you to list three people that can provide you with the critical social support you may need when you are most vulnerable.
The third section encourages you to think about the consequences of your actions, either way. On one side, you can write down the potential outcomes of relapsing. On the other, you can list the potential outcomes of staying sober. This is a simple but powerful way to compare your two possible futures and help you to see which one is more appealing.
The final section contains tips to help you avoid relapse, like distracting yourself from cravings and avoiding situations that will put you at risk of relapsing.
Click here to download this worksheet.
For more information on coping with substance abuse and addiction, check out these websites and worksheets:
- Substance Abuse Client Workbook
A Take Home Message
I hope you take away from this piece the message that there are hundreds of good ways to cope when you face challenging or demotivating situations. You may have learned a few new ways to cope, or you may have realized that some of the ways you cope are not healthy or constructive – don’t worry, we all have a few unhealthy coping mechanisms!
Whatever you were looking for in this piece, I hope I have provided the tools and information you need to take your coping skills from “good enough” to “great”!
Thank you for reading, and please feel free to leave us your thoughts on this piece below. Are there other ways to cope that you like to use? Do you have any tips for making sure that you cope in a healthy way?
- Flannery, B. (2016, December 18). A list of coping skills for anger, anxiety, and depression. Heal Dove. Retrieved from https://healdove.com/mental-health/Coping-Strategies-Skills-List-Positive-Negative-Anger-Anxiety-Depression-Copers
- www.mhww.org www.psychologytools.com
- Schuder, K. Coping skills worksheets for adults. Love to Know. Retrieved from http://stress.lovetoknow.com/stress-management-techniques/coping-skills-worksheets-adults