The ‘Coping with Stress workshop parts one and two’ are based on and adapted from day 3 of the Save the Children Psychological First Aid Training Manual for Child Practitioners.

Facilitator notes:
This is part two of the ‘Coping with stress’ workshop. It should only be done after the participants have completed part one.

It is helpful to prepare most of the flipcharts needed for this workshop in advance, so you can concentrate on discussions and not on having to write on the flip charts. The flipchart notes that can be prepared in advance are in blue.


1. Welcome the participants to part two of the workshop on coping with stress.

2. Ask the participants to recap what they learnt and discussed in part one of the ‘Coping with stress’ workshop. If they do not mention it, remind them that you explored:

   •   what stress is
   •   how stress impacts us in different ways: our behaviour, socially, emotionally, physically and spiritually
   •   different types of stress: basic stress, cumulative stress, burn-out, traumatic stress
   •   their own stress levels.

3. Summarise and say:

“In part one of the ‘Coping with stress’ workshop we looked at what stress is, how stress impacts out well-being, and different types of stress. Now we are going to explore sources of stress and different ways of reducing stress. In other words, we will be focusing on our coping resources, which were on the right side of the balance."

4. Refer to the balance you drew on the flipchart in part one of the workshop.

Sources of stress


1. Explain:
”The first step in reducing the negative impact of stress is in identifying what the sources of stress are. We talked a little about this in part one of the workshop, when you shared with the person next to you what the three most common stressors in your lives were.”

2. Give each participant a copy of the ’Sources of stress’ worksheet. Explain this worksheet is for their private use, but if they want to, they will be invited to share what they write.

3. Ask the participants to take about ten minutes to complete this worksheet. Now ask participants to share examples of personal sources of stress and of stress related to the external environment.

4. Thank the participants for sharing and continue by saying:

“Now that we have identified what the stressors in our lives are, let’s look at different ways we can reduce stressors and our reaction to stress.”

Ways to reduce stress


1. Ask participants to brainstorm in plenary: How can we reduce stress?

2. Write their answers on a flipchart.

3. When everyone has contributed, ask the participants to have a look at the answers on the flipchart. Ask the participants what they find most striking.

4. Explain:

“There are many different things you can do to reduce stress and prevent it from becoming a negative part of your life. You have given examples that are physical, personal or psychological, and social.”

5. Write the following on a flipchart:

Different ways to reduce stress
   •   Psychological, personal
   •   Physical
   •   Social
   •   Work-related

6. Divide the participants into four groups and give each group a flipchart and markers. Ask them to work together on listing different ways they know of how to reduce stress in each of the domains listed.

7. Give the groups about 10 minutes to work on this. Then ask each of the groups to present what they have listed. Ask the other participants to comment or add to the lists as the groups finish presenting.

8. Now give each participant a blank sheet of paper and ask them to write the title: ‘My ways of coping’ at the top of the page.

9. Give them about five minutes to write what they own personal ways of coping with stress are. Remind them this is their own private worksheet, and they will not be asked to share what they have written. This is only for personal reflection.

10. When everyone has finished, ask them to look at their lists of coping methods and think if they feel satisfied with what they do? If not, what behaviour or coping method would they like to change?

11. End the activity by giving each participant the handout on ‘Ways to reduce stress’ and saying:

“The first step in reducing stress is identifying what the source of our stress is. The next is looking at realistic ways of either reducing, or learning to cope better with the stress.
This handout shows many different ways of reducing stress. Some of these may be useful to you. Have a look at them and try something new next time you feel negatively impacted by a lot of stress.”

Practising peer support


1. Explain:

“As we have talked about, there are many different ways to help reduce stress and improve the resources we need to deal with stress. One very important thing you can do is to access peer support. This is where you share your challenges with a peer you trust and feel comfortable with. You can discuss together ways of changing the situation to reduce the stressors. Know your own limits to avoid burnout. Seek support from others.”

This is what you are going to practise in this last activity of the ‘Coping with stress’ workshop. Peer support can be done in groups, but today we will practise it in pairs. If you do not have a real problem to discuss, make one up. The aim of the activity is to practise active listening and mentoring skills.”

2. Write the following on a flipchart and explain:

Active listening includes:
   •   Paying attention
   •   Showing you are listening
   •   Encouraging the person to talk
   •   Responding without judging.

“Active listening is when you pay full attention and show that you are listening. You encourage the person to talk and respond without judging. “

3. Now write the following on a flipchart and explain:

          Mentoring includes:
              •   Using your own knowledge, skills, experience to assist others
              •   Being positive, motivating, empowering
              •   Helping someone find a way forward.

“Mentoring is about using your own knowledge, skills and experiences to assist others. A good mentor is positive, motivating and empowering. Beware that helping someone find a way forward is not about resolving the issue for them, but rather supporting them in finding their own solutions.“

Now ask the participants to form pairs. If there is an uneven number, let three people be in one group.

4. Write the following on a flipchart and explain:

        Active listening exercise
        15 minutes each:
              o 5 minutes to share problem
              o 5 minutes to ask questions
              o 5 minutes to find strategies to address problems.

“Join your partner or group and find a space where others won’t disturb you. One of you is the person seeking help and the other is the mentor and listener.

You have 30 minutes for this activity, so you should swap roles after 15 minutes to get
equal time to practise your active listening and mentoring skills:

   •   The first 5 minutes are for the person seeking help to share his or her problems.

   •   “The next 5 minutes are for the listener to ask clarifying questions and reflect on what s/he has been listening to.

   •   “The final 5 minutes are for a two-way discussion on possible strategies to address the

5. After 30 minutes, and when all participants have tried both roles, ask the pairs to spend few minutes talking with each other about this experience. Ask them to give each other constructive feedback on their active listening and mentoring skills.

Workshop closure


1. Ask the participants to sit in a circle. Thank them for their positive contributions and for sharing their problems and trusting one another to practise peer support. Say:

“Remember that everyone experiences stress in life, and it is up to us to recognize when we are overwhelmed or begin to react negatively to the stress in our lives. When you start to feel overwhelmed by stressors, remember:
   •   Your reactions are normal.
   •   Go easy on yourself.
   •   Talk to someone you trust.
   •   Do not try to hide feelings.
   •   Do not self-medicate.
   •   Continue with daily life tasks.

If the stress grows and affects your well-being and functioning, seek help from others, and if necessary, contact your doctor.”

2. End the workshop going round the group and asking each participant to share one thing they are going to change in their lives in order to reduce stress.


Sources of stress

Take some time to list your own sources of stress below.


My sources of stress:








Take a look at the sources of stress you’ve listed. Which of the sources you’ve listed are personal sources? And which sources do you think are related to the external environment, such as threats to your safety, expectations of other people, etc.?
Personal sources of stress: _______________________________________________________________________




Stress related to external environment: _______________________________________________________________________





Ways to reduce stress

Psychological, emotional and personal
Monitor yourself: Be aware of your signs of stress and take action in order to reduce or prevent bad stress.
Focus on specific issues that can be changed. Do not dwell on larger problems beyond your control.
Have realistic expectations of yourself.
Do things you enjoy: reading books, listening to music, playing games, engaging in your hobbies.
Practise relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga.
Do not forget to pay attention to the present and your everyday life and family.
Remember your sense of humour.
Maintain a healthy balance between serious and joyful activities.
Participate in relevant religious or spiritual practices.

Keep your body in good shape, and remember to exercise.
Get plenty of good sleep.
Eat regularly and eat healthy food.
Limit alcohol and tobacco.

Maintain a good social network: Stay in touch with family and friends.
Remain socially active: Spend quality time with friends and family.
Share your feelings with colleagues, friends or family.
Communicate your needs to others.
Provide support to others and show that you care about them.

Reach out to your supervisor if you need help.
Ask for clear job descriptions so you know what is expected of you.
Try to vary your work so you do not do the same thing all the time.
Be prepared for difficult periods of work.
Take a break when you need it.
Create a peer support system.
Do not work more hours than you need to.
Spend quality time with colleagues for relaxing and having fun.