Wellbeing coping strategies

Use the activity below which can be carried out with your young person, to support them in identifying coping strategies that can help manage stress at home, at school and in the workplace. They will also encourage your young person to recognise how a positive, resilient mindset along with time management skills can be beneficial to maintaining good wellbeing.

Ask your young person to use the accompanying worksheets as you go through. Each step should take 15-20 minutes.

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Step one: What is wellbeing?

Use the below discussion questions to explore your young person’s existing understanding of wellbeing. Examples and additional detail have been provided as prompts:

What words come to mind when people use the term ‘wellbeing’?

  • Responses might use definitions related to health or feelings/emotions. Generic responses might include:

- How someone might think or feel about themselves

- A general sense of how someone thinks and feels about their life

- Someone’s overall feelings of mental and physical health

- The sense generated by the combination of physical, social, intellectual and emotional factors

What kinds of things make people feel good – physically, emotionally, socially, intellectually?

  • Responses will vary, but could include friends/family, exercise, rest and sleep, food, pets, hobbies etc.

What can people do to maintain a positive sense of wellbeing, both physical and mental?

  • Ensure your young person understands the importance of exercise/activity, healthy eating, sleep and rest

What kinds of things can affect a positive sense of wellbeing, or throw it off balance?

  • Highlight the effects of relationships, academic, financial or work-related stress and how life changes can affect wellbeing. Highlight how wellbeing can also be affected by how people manage and cope with particular situations such as change or pressure

Is wellbeing something that people need to ‘tune into’ only at certain times, or is it something we can help develop and nurture over a period of time?

  • Ensure that there is an understanding that both are true – we can learn how to spot initial signs that a positive sense of wellbeing is under threat, but we can also develop ways in to manage situations and improve our sense of wellbeing generally throughout our lives


Step two: Luke’s story

Ask your young person to read through Luke’s story below, asking them to focus on the signs that Luke was under pressure.


Working either independently or with you, ask them to write down answers to the following questions. Example answers have been given as prompts:

  • What are the signs that Luke is feeling under pressure?

- E.g. Eats quickly so he can get back to revision, no social life, finds it hard to sleep

  • What are some other signs might you see that someone is feeling under pressure leading up to exams and during the exam period?

- E.g. Less talkative or seems distracted all the time, regularly in a bad mood, seems tired and/or over-excited

  • What is the impact of the pressure on his thoughts, feelings and behaviour?

- E.g. Thought he would fail, felt like he would let everyone down, hardly sleeping and nearly unable to go into school due to anxiety

  • Did Luke have any ways of coping with the pressure he was feeling?

- E.g. Made a revision schedule, spoke to a friend

  • Why do you think people often imagine the worst-case scenario when they’re in high-pressure situations?

- E.g. Because they’re trying to prepare for the worst case scenario, that way it might feel as though they’re less likely to fail/because negative thoughts can arise more easily when under pressure

  • Are there ways in which being under pressure and feeling stressed could be useful or positive?

- E.g. It can trigger our ‘fight or flight’ response, meaning we go into a high-alert state to help us focus on challenges in the short term. Emphasise that stress is a normal response, but it’s important to recognise when it’s becoming prolonged and unhealthy. Finding coping strategies to manage stress are therefore really important


Step three: Coping strategies

Ask your young person to make a mind map of all the coping strategies that someone like Luke could use to maintain his wellbeing when under pressure. You can use the following prompts to provide ideas for what to include:

  • Practical strategies to help Luke manage his thoughts, feelings and behaviour. For example:
    • Speaking to other people who can offer support and guidance
    • Researching websites and forums with helpful advice
    • Taking regular breaks and short walks
    • Making time for an activity he enjoys
    • Planning his day, allowing time for revision as well as breaks and down time
    • Ways to turn negative thoughts and behaviours into positive ones
    • Writing successes and positive moments down in a journal

To take this one step further, ask them to create an action plan for Luke. This could include:

  • Organisation of the coping strategies:
    • When will they happen – e.g. every day, all the time, for a short time each day, once only?
    • Where will they happen?
    • Do they require any additional resources?
    • Who else could be involved or help?
  • Alternative ideas (a plan B) in case this strategy isn’t effective
  • Measurable outcomes i.e. how will Luke know that the strategy is working?

Ask your young person to read the second part of Luke’s case study, which demonstrates how he dealt with his challenges, and compare their action plans to what he did. Particularly discuss anything Luke did that your young person didn’t include in their version of the action plan.

Looking for more support and advice on mental wellbeing? Check out our list of relevant organisations.



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