Helping Teens Manage Stress
It’s no accident that April is National Stress Awareness month. As winter ends, taxes are due, and the long haul until the end of the school year begins, stress can be a major factor in the life of students and adults alike. And, especially, for students with special needs, stress can be an overwhelming factor in their lives. You can help your students learn to manage stress by, first, helping them define what stress is and how it affects their lives and then by providing them with the tools they need to manage that stress.
Help Students Learn to Define Stress
You can’t manage stress if you don’t understand what it is. This week’s free lesson from Daily Living Skill’s Managing Stress, will help students understand exactly what stress is and how it affects bodies in general, and their body specifically.
How to Use this Lesson
Print out the lesson. Use it as an overhead, display on your computer, or pass it out to your students—whatever is appropriate for your group. Read the first page describing the biological basis for a stress response. Have students describe modern-day situations that might cause a fight-flight response. Divide a chart or the board into two sections—one for “Fight” and one for “Flight.” List student answers in the appropriate section.
Help students define “today.” Modern stress comes, not from the run-for-your-life stress of the saber toothed tiger, but instead from the drip, drip, drip of long-term, never-ending “Can I pay my bills?” “Did I get my homework done?” “How am I going to finish this?” stress of modern day life. Guide students toward an understanding of the difference between ancient and modern stress.
Explore the physical nature. Read over the physical responses listed in “So, what is Fight-Flight?” Help students relate these responses to their own body responses using the “Symptoms of Stress.” Then let them test their knowledge with the worksheet quiz.
Becoming Self-Aware. Finally, allow students to chart their own physical symptoms and what situations bring on those symptoms. (You may choose to explore tools to cope with stress with the lessons in Managing Stress.)
If stress is a factor for your students, Practicing Mindfulness makes a good companion book to Managing Stress. Research finds that regular mindfulness practice can actually rewire our brains to increase our cognitive abilities, lower our reaction to stressors, improve depression and more. Just eight weeks of mindfulness training can permanently affect these changes. Mindfulness practices provided in the book can take as little as two minutes in the day but can improve both your students’ behavior and their ability to concentrate in class. Not a bad “bang” for your “buck.”
For Further Information
Like all books in the Daily Living Skills series, Managing Stress is written on a 3rd/4th grade level with bullet-point information and airy pages that meets Indicator 13 standards and federal mandates for transition skills while honoring teen sensibilities. To find out more about the series or to purchase Managing Stress or Practicing Mindfulness go to our store here or our store on Teacher's Pay Teachers.