Episode7 Segment 1 - How can you plan for challenging situations?

Fast Fact 1

You can predict challenging situations

Fast Fact 2

You can be alert to warning signs that show you may not be coping

Fast Fact 3

Coping Plans help you deal with challenging situations

Predicting challenging situations

On any journey, it is important to try to look ahead and plan for possible challenging or difficult situations. Predicting a difficult situation is the first step to making it easier to manage. Challenges are easier to face and cope with if you are not caught by surprise.

User Activity

In this activity you will learn to identify challenging situations.


In the space provided below, make a list of situations that you think might be a challenge for you to cope with. The situation may make your pain worse and impact on what you need or want to do. Some examples might be: going to the movies, sitting through a concert, going to a sporting event.

Situations that might be challenging or difficult to cope with include:

Warning signs

There are usually warning signs when things are a little off track. For people with chronic pain, this might mean that daily activities and coping become harder to achieve. Some people might notice that they become grumpy or angry at the slightest thing. Other people might stay in their room and avoid family members. Tension and feelings of stress or anxiety might also be noticed. If you learn to know your own warning signs, then you can act quickly to pick yourself back up and continue on with your life.

User Activity

This activity is about identifying warning signs that show you might not be coping with your pain.


In the space provided below, type in some warning signs that show you might not be coping with your pain.

When I’m heading off track with my pain, I show the following warning signs:

Warning signs help you know there is a problem. The next step is to identify the problem and possible causes. Use your support network to help problem solve the issues and solutions. A Flare Up Plan will come in handy here, as will a coping plan.

You can use your knowledge of warning signs and things that are challenging for you to ‘have a go’. You can learn from each experience, the good and not so good, and use this knowledge to manage the next challenge.

Coping Plan

A Coping Plan sets out strategies you can use to help you stay on track for the predicted and unpredicted situations. It helps you to list the strategies and put a plan of action into place so you can cope with potentially challenging situations.

It is useful to list the specific coping strategies and helpful thoughts you will use:

  • Before going into the challenging situation
  • During the challenging situation
  • After the challenging situation

Coping Plan Example

Listed below is an example of a Coping Plan.

Notice how Alex plans strategies and thoughts before, during, and after the challenging situation.

Alex's Coping Plan

Challenging Situation:
Going shopping with my friends.

Before the Event

I will explain to my friends before we go that I will shop with them for a while, and then I will do my own thing (I can use my relaxation exercises here). Afterwards, we will meet up again for lunch.
I don't need to walk around with my friends everywhere.
I can take breaks.
If I sit down and do my relaxation exercises, I won't get too sore.
It will be fun to do some shopping with my friends.

During the Event

I can pace myself by taking a break before the pain gets bad.
I can use muscle relaxation exercises.
By using my coping skills, I can do a lot more than I could a few months ago.

After the Event

I will have a fairly quiet afternoon and relax after my shopping trip.
Yay! I got to go shopping with my friends! It was ok that I didn't shop for as long as my friends did. The important thing was being able to hang out with my friends and go shopping.
It was nice to have lunch together afterwards.
It was helpful taking my relaxation break, but next time I should take it a bit earlier.

User Activity

This activity asks you to describe a challenging situation and to list the coping strategies and helpful thoughts you could use before, during and after the event. Some strategies that could be helpful include counting, deep breathing, alphabet challenge, listening to music, reading, drawing, writing, imagination walks, massage, apps, puzzles, and pacing.


In the Coping Plan below, type in the following:

  1. A challenging or difficult situation you might face
  2. Helpful strategies and thoughts that can be used before the event
  3. Helpful strategies and thoughts that can be used during the event
  4. Helpful strategies and thoughts that can be used after the event

When you have finished typing, print off your plan and keep it somewhere handy.

Challenging Situation:

You can click here to create a new Coping Plan for another situation.

New Coping Plan