Stress Management Blog

Stress Management Lesson Plan – Secondary

Stress management is an interdisciplinary study, equally at home in any part of the curriculum. Stress management is essential at the secondary level, as teenagers deal with changing bodies, dating, greater academic demands, and a growing desire for independence. Sadly, few teenagers receive training in stress management. Few even receive instruction as to the source of stress, its meaning, and the fact that it comes in positive and negative forms.

The stress management lesson plan presented here targets secondary grades. In a separate article, we presented a simpler stress management lesson plan for elementary students. Both lesson plans were prepared by a career educator with more than 40 years of teaching experience.

Stress Management Lesson Plan

The outline that follows is a basic stress management lesson plan. The thorough teacher will prepare, fleshing it out with helpful detail and resource materials.

1. Subject: Interdisciplinary; Social Skills; Language Arts/Writing

2. Duration: 3 days

3. Description: This lesson is ideally presented at the outset of the school year to prepare students for stress management that can build. Students watch a video portraying one or more instances of debilitating stress; learn the meaning of stressor and list possible stressors together; discuss and list common teenage stressors, including academic stressors; and then write an essay or creative fiction about personal stress. Students type rewritten work in a word processing program, and post on a class web page. Finally, students participate in small group discussions of proactive ways to respond to stressors and turn them from distress to eustress, prepare and perform short skits demonstrating their grasp of the information.

4. Goal: Students will understand both distress and eustress, be able to identify stressors in their lives, and actively respond appropriately. They will conscientiously exercise top stress management techniques.

5. Objectives: Students will be able to cooperate in listing possible stressors and identifying those that are of a personal nature to teenagers. Students will be able to write an essay or creative fictional work that clearly demonstrates their grasp of stress management. Students will be able to instruct younger students on stress, including appropriate responses to stressors and other stress management techniques.

6. Materials: Paper; pens; dictionaries; computers; web page.

7. Procedure – Day 1: The teacher writes “Stress Management” on the board. Then the teacher shows the video illustrating a teenager or adult experiencing debilitating, harmful stress. At the end of the video, the teacher asks students to look up “stress”, “stressor”, “eustress”, and “distress” in their dictionaries and paraphrase the definitions in everyday language. (Example: “Stress is how you respond to unusual demands made on your body, mind, or emotions. Stressors are the unusual demands themselves.”) The students take notes during this process. The teacher gives one example of a stressor: (“You must clean your very dirty room before you may go to the mall.”) Then the teacher says, “Let’s divide into groups and brainstorm other stressors for five minutes.” At the end of the time, write students’ ideas on the chalkboard. Explain that, “What we do when those things happen is called stress.” Set ten minutes for students to list as many personal stressors as they can. Assign completion of the lists for homework.

8. Procedure – Day 2: The teacher writes “Stress Management” on the board. The teacher gives an unannounced quiz, asking students to define “stressor”, “stress”, “eustress”, and “distress”. The teacher tells the students that stress management is a way to train yourself to respond appropriately to any and all stress. You manage stress. Students write rough drafts of essays or creative fictional works about personal stress they recognize in their own lives, using reality-based examples. When students have completed rough drafts, they type final drafts in a word processing program, and post on a class web page.

9. Procedure – Day 3: The teacher writes “Stress Management” on the board. A panel of students leads a discussion on appropriate ways to respond to both good and bad stress. Emphasize ways to control that response: deep breaths; positive thoughts; clenching and unclenching hands. (More ideas elsewhere on this website.) Discuss ways of turning distress into eustress. (See suggestions elsewhere on this website.)

10. Assessment: Did students cooperate and contribute throughout the stress management study? Did they show respect for one another’s persons and thoughts? Evaluate each student’s final writing. How well did students understand stress management? How thoroughly did they develop their ideas? Did they submit the quality of work that would be expected in other disciplines?

Three days of brief stress management training is a beginning, but you will want to follow through with daily reminders. All teachers should urge students to help one another practice stress management at a practical level.