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Classroom Friendly Coping Skills

Disclaimer: Please be advised that the following may require a reasonable accommodation in certain settings and situations. Talk to your office of disability services if you are unsure.
TACR Shorts: Accommodations | Outside-the-Box College Accommodations: Real Support for Real Students Tools for Schools II  | Tools for School: Accommodations for College Students with Mental Health Challenges

Hello again from Transitions ACR! This blog entry  focuses on healthy coping skills that students can use in a classroom setting, many of which may not require a reasonable accommodation. A healthy coping skill is something that helps me to deal with stressful situations.  Because I live with multiple medical and mental health conditions, I’ve found myself needing to utilize healthy coping skills in a variety of learning environments, such as high school and college. Finding effective and healthy coping skills has been essential to my recovery and in my success as a student. Keep reading to learn strategies that I’ve gathered along the way!

Tips to Develop Coping Skills:

  1. Needs and Preferences: Do some brainstorming on paper to identify your needs and preferences. For example, two of my needs were lowering my anxiety and finding grounding techniques. I preferred that my coping skills be discrete, portable, and inexpensive.
  2. Consistency: It’s important to regularly utilize your coping skills, both when you are struggling and when you are feeling well. Why? It takes practice to reap the full benefits from a coping skill.
  3. Re-evaluate: Your needs may shift over time, so adapting your coping skills or adding new ones may be necessary. Make sure to re-visit your list of coping skills every semester or 6 months. Are there skills that are no longer working for you or ones you’d like to add? In the past, I’ve found it helpful to incorporate a new coping skill into my repertoire every semester. I’d begin practicing the skill a few weeks before the start of the semester to ensure I had ample time to practice.
  4. Be Gentle: Don’t be too hard on yourself. Take credit for your courage, resourcefulness, and hard work as you navigate the “coping skill process.” I have to remind myself of this often!
  5. Resources: If you would like ideas on coping skills, check out some of my favorites below!

My Top 10 Coping Skills for School:

Mental Health:

  1. 3-2-1 grounding technique:
    • Name 3 things you see, hear, and can touch (tactile)
    • Name 2 things you see, hear, and can touch
    • Name 1 thing you see, hear, and can touch
  2. Spinner Fidget Ring: Fidget toys can help decrease anxiety and boosts concentration.
  3. Lotion: Try an uplifting citrus scent or a calming scent, such as lavender.
  4. Frozen orange: Can be used as a grounding technique for dissociation or racing thoughts. Alternatives: ice, frozen chocolate (freeze your favorite chocolate candies). Speak with your teacher or disability office if food is not allowed.
  5. Comfort item: Examples include, but are not limited to, a soft sweatshirt, a picture of your pet, or a card from someone who motivates you in your recovery and goals.
  6. 7/11 Breathing: For use when anxiety peaks.
    • Breathe in for 7 counts and breathe out for 11 counts. Repeat as needed.


  1. Quick muscle relaxation exercise: Helps to release muscle tension and knots.
  2. Food: Easily accessible desk snacks to combat low blood sugar.
  3. Coccyx Cushion: An ergonomic cushion can be a useful pain management tool.
  4. Frequent breaks: Going for a walk or simply moving around for two minutes can keep pain in check.
  5. Toast USB Hand Warmers: Can increase hand and finger mobility, while also decreasing pain. If you don’t have a USB hookup you can use reusable hot packs.

Healthy coping skills can be an amazing tool in achieving academic success. Finding healthy coping strategies that work for you is an ongoing and nonlinear process, which involves trial and error. Keep trying, practicing, and implementing coping skills. From personal experience, I can say that persevering, even though it may be frustrating at times, is worth it! Finally, don’t forget to have fun in the process!