This lesson addresses National Health Education Standard 3, Performance Indicator 7: apply skills to manage stress.
To help students explore how stress affects the body and how to manage stress.
Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to
- explain why stress management is an important life skill
- demonstrate strategies for managing stress.
The program begins with the Life Skills 101 song. Then the teacher, Mrs. Peterson, greets the children, and announces that she has a surprise for them—a test! She then asks students to reflect on how hearing about the test made them feel. Students respond: I was worried, I was afraid, my heart is beating faster, my stomach feels funny, my knees are shaking.
She goes on to point out that what she was testing was to see how their minds and bodies deal with stress. Stress, she says, can be anything that happens to you that puts pressure on your mind and body and causes you to feel worried, uptight, or tense. After the kids think of other stressful situations, the teacher introduces a video featuring Slim Goodbody intended to help them learn more about stress and the best ways to deal with it.
Slim begins by saying that in a stressful situation, some amazing changes take place in the mind and body. To really understand why this happens, he takes viewers on a brief trip back in time—to prehistoric days. He indicates that when our ancestors had to handle a stressful situation, there were only two things they could do to stay alive. They could either fight…. or run away.
In either case their bodies had to get ready very quickly – and to do that, rapid changes took place. Their brain sent chemical messengers racing through their bodies. These messengers, called hormones, made their hearts beat faster, blood flow quicker, and breathing speed up and digestion slow down. Hormones caused their muscles to get tense, their hearing to improve, and the pupils in their eyes to get bigger.
These changes were the body’s way of preparing itself to deal with trouble. Scientists call these changes the “fight or flight” response because it helped provide the extra energy and strength needed to fight, or take flight, which means to run away.
What does this have to do with us today? Well, when faced with stress, the very same changes happen in our bodies that happened in the bodies of our pre-historic ancestors, even if the stressful situation is not life or death.
Slim goes on to say that if you hold this stress in, it can hurt your body. It can make you sick. And it certainly will make it a lot harder to act. He offers some suggestions of ways to handle stress in a song:
- Take some slow, deep breaths.
- Stretch your muscles.
- Get some exercise.
- Remind yourself that you're really smart and strong and you can deal with what is wrong.
- Get help from friends and others father, mothers, sisters, brothers.
Slim concludes that stress is natural. But to stay healthy, you need to learn ways to deal with it.
Back in the classroom, Mrs. Peterson gives an assignment: I would like you to make a report about some healthy ways you’ve learned to deal with a stress.
Next class, the children share their work. Jena reports how she asked her violin teacher for help in dealing with the stress associated with giving a concert.
Next, Roger and Cindy report that they went on the Internet and read about a relaxation exercise. They describe the exercise and sing a song, while practicing it.
Slim then reviews the strategies for dealing with stress. He concludes by saying that some doctors think that more than half the time people get sick, it’s because they don’t know how to deal with stressful situations. But there are good ways to deal with stress and keep your mind and body healthy.
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