Stress and Stress Balls
Yesterday was a busy day! I taught for two hours and it was jam-packed with activities relating to stress and mindfulness! I will link the lesson plans and activities at the bottom of this blog post!
To start off the first hour we focused on stress. I asked the students to remind me what stress, eustress and distress are. This allowed them to tell me what they have learned so far and how they are able to reword it in their own way. We continued on with the following two discussion questions:
- What are the effects of stress on the body?
- What are different (unhealthy and healthy) ways that people cope with stress?
The students came up with some very thoughtful responses! For effects of stress on the body they gave me responses like: having headaches, stomach aches or muscle pains; shutting down and isolating yourself; feeling angry or annoyed; feeling anxious and nervous; crying for no reason; yelling; feeling hopeless; not sleeping or sleeping too much; and eating too much or not eating enough. I was impressed by what the students came up with as I was able to add their responses to my list I already had of what I wanted to hear from them. For the second question, responses that the students shared for healthy ways to cope were: solving the problem, going for a run, talking to someone, taking deep breaths, positive self-talk, focusing on what you can control and what you cannot, take time to laugh, watch Vine compilation videos (I giggled at this one), listen to music, volunteering. The responses that students shared for unhealthy ways to cope were: using alcohol/drugs, gambling, overeating or not eating properly, sleeping all day and night, verbally/mentally/physically abusing someone, getting angry at people (lashing out), bullying, and spending too much time watching TV or playing video games.
After we discussed the questions, we moved onto making the stress balls! The students seem to love this little activity as they were able to choose their balloon colours and fill it up with flour. The video linked here is the one that I used to show the class on how to create their stress ball. The only differences that we did were that we only used flour and instead of three balloons we used two. I will also attach the link to the Google Slides presentation I created and used here as well: Stress Balls and Mindfulness
After this lesson was over, I handout out a Stress and Mindfulness crossword puzzle that contains vocabulary words that the students have been learning about in this unit for the past three weeks.
For the second hour, we focused on mindfulness. I asked the students to discuss the following questions as a review from last class:
- What does mindfulness mean?
- What does it mean to be mindful?
- What does it mean to “Mindfully walk” or “Mindfully listen” or “Mindfully breathe”
After the students had a few moments to think about these questions, we came up with the consensus that mindfulness is being the mental state of being aware of your surroundings and living in the present moment instead of worrying about what has already happened or what hasn’t happened yet. We talked about how the mind influences the body and the body influences the mind as well as how mindfulness can help increase our ability to focus.
The next step of this lesson was to watch the short film “Release”. It is the second film by Julie Bayer and Josh Salzman, who created “Just Breathe” in 2015. In this short film middle school students work through their anxieties that they face everyday by using mindfulness. Before we started watching the video, I had my students write down what they predicted the video would be about solely based upon the title. I started the video after the students wrote their predictions down but I paused it as soon as the quote: “The best way out is always through” by Robert Frost showed up on the screen. I then asked the students to respond to this quote in their notebooks. Some prompts I had them look at for this were: have they heard this quote before, how does it make them feel, and what comes to mind when they read it. I have attached the “Release” video below. It is a must watch!!
At the 2 minute and 20 second mark I paused the video again. I asked students to reflect on how the students in the video were speaking with the following prompts: what did their tone of voice sound like, have you ever sounded like one of those student and what words were the students in the video using. I then asked my students if they have ever felt the way that the students in the video were feeling. After they had had a few minutes to write their thoughts down, I asked the students to follow along with the voice over in the last half of the video and then I pressed play again. The students were all engaged and participated in the mindfulness activity led by the woman in the video. After the video was over I had the students jot down how that mindfulness practice made them feel. Did their thoughts wander of task? Were they able to redirect their attention back to their breathing? Or did they remain distracted?
There was about 8 minutes left of class time once the video was over so I had printed off different bookmarks that the students would be able to mindfully colour in their remaining class time and other spare time that they might have.
Stress and Mindfulness Crossword: Stress and Mindfulness Crossword Puzzle
Lesson Plan on Stress and Stress Balls: 10. Lesson 10
Lesson Plan for Mindfulness and “‘Release”: 11. Lesson 11