Coping Skills Inventory


  • Five minutes of class (or one-on-one) time
  • a homework assignment (for extra credit if applicable)
  • 15 minutes on a subsequent day to discuss

How it Works

  1. Students make a list of every coping skill they can think of, noting everything they’ve done recently when they felt stress, pressure, anxiety, fear, etc. 
  2. On the following day, the teacher collects the lists and selects approximately 20 of the examples to write on the board, making sure to include both those that might be considered healthy (ex: making time for physical activity or sleep, choosing a healthy snack, etc.) as well as those that might lead to unhealthy or negative consequences (ex: eating too much, playing video games, staying up all night texting)
  3. In a class discussion, students review the entries and determine which are “unhealthy,” and for each, suggest a healthier alternative. 
  4. When starting the discussion, the teacher should discuss the difference between short and long term benefits/consequences. We all have a short-term benefit from eating too much or procrastinating – we may feel better temporarily; the problem, or negative consequence, comes later. Students may not have the foresight to make this distinction.

Note: This exercise could also be conducted one-on-one with the teacher and student reviewing the student’s list and discussing how “unhealthy” activities could be replaced with “healthier” alternatives.


  • Students connect their actions with their feelings, seeing that all of us find ways – both healthy and not so healthy – to deal with life’s difficult moments, and that with mindfulness and practice, better alternatives can be found for unhealthy coping skills.

Note: This exercise could be followed by practicing a specific relaxation/stress reduction exercise like those found here.