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How Do You Cope With Stress?

Topic Overview

There are many ways to deal with stress. The table below (reprinted from Wellness: Concepts and Applications*) lists positive ways to cope. See how many you use to deal with stress. If you have trouble filling out this chart, you may want to track your stress for a few days and then try again.

Positive ways to cope



Not at all

Listen to music

Go shopping with a friend

Watch television, go to a movie

Read a newspaper, magazine, book

Sit alone in the peaceful outdoors

Write prose or poetry

Attend an athletic event, play, lecture, symphony

Go for a walk or drive

Exercise (swim, bike, jog)

Get deeply involved in some other activity

Play with a pet

Take a nap

Get outdoors, enjoy nature

Write in a journal

Practice deep breathing, meditation, autogenics, or muscle relaxation

Straighten up your desk or work area

Take a bath or shower

Do physical work (garden, paint)

Make home repairs or refinish furniture

Buy something (records, books)

Play a game (chess, backgammon, video games)

Pray, go to church

Discuss situations with a spouse or close friend


Now see if you use any of these negative ways to deal with stress.

Negative ways to cope



Not at all

Become aggressive

Use negative self-talk

Yell at spouse, kids, or friends

Drink a lot of coffee or tea

Get drunk


Take a tranquilizing drug

Avoid social contact with others

Try to anticipate the worst possible outcomes

Think about suicide

Smoke tobacco

Chew your fingernails

Overeat or undereat

Become irritable or short-tempered

Cry excessively

Kick something or throw something

Drive fast in your car


Scoring Instructions: Count the number of positive and negative coping techniques you use.

Number of positive techniques: _______

Number of negative techniques: _______

How often do you use negative coping strategies? ____________________

Do you use more positive than negative strategies or the reverse? ________________________

Do you recognize a need to change some of the techniques you are now using? If so, which ones? ___________________________________

What are some ways in which you can maximize your use of positive coping techniques? How can you minimize your negative ones? _______________

Used with permission: Anspaugh DJ, et al. (2009). Wellness: Concepts and Applications, 7th ed. © The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


Current as of: June 16, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Christine R. Maldonado PhD - Behavioral Health