Why I Teach An Entire Stress Management Unit

In the past, I’ve had one, maybe two, stress management lessons on the yearly schedule. I do one before the holidays and one around testing time. But this year I realized that 2 lessons weren’t going to cut it. My students were more stressed out than ever. From more demanding classes to more extracurricular responsibilities and activities, the kids I’m working with reported high levels of stress in multiple domains when we did a self-assessment. So I reevaluated my plan for the year and worked in more stress management activities to target this. Keep reading to find out what stress management activities for kids I use and some creative ways to fit in a whole unit if you’re short on class time.

Looking for stress management activities for kids? Read more about why I teach a whole stress management unit and some creative ways to fit it all in!

Stress Management Activities for Kids

Why I Teach a Whole Unit

While one- or two-time lessons work fine for some topics, the data showed that my students really needed more than a general overview of stress management. What once was 1-2 lessons throughout the year turned in to 6-lesson unit to give the students the stress management skills they really needed. I did have to rearrange the calendar I planned and let some things go, but it’s okay. It’s what they needed. After I rearranged my calendar, I sent home a letter to parents to fill them in on what I’d be covering in class lessons. The response I got was overwhelmingly positive with parents saying they could tell their kids were stressed but they didn’t know how to help.

What’s in the Unit

First things first, we talk about what stress actually is. We talk about the biological processes involved in the stress response. We talk about fight, flight, and freeze responses. Then, students do a self-assessment to see in what areas of their life they may be experiencing stress (family, school, community, friends/relationships, money, health).

Looking for stress management activities for kids? Read more about why I teach a whole stress management unit and some creative ways to fit it all in!

Many of my students report high levels of stress related to school. They say that they’re overwhelmed by the number of assignments they have or that they struggle to get things in on time. From here we talk about planning and organization. I walk them through the process of evaluating the size of an assignment, breaking it into smaller, more manageable tasks, gathering necessary materials, and identifying people who can help in the case of a roadblock.

For students who say that relationships and friendship issues are a stressor, we cover conflict resolution. We also talk about what makes a supportive friend or the qualities supportive people have.

Looking for stress management activities for kids? Read more about why I teach a whole stress management unit and some creative ways to fit it all in!

We also cover things like yoga, cardio exercise, positive self talk, practicing gratitude, using humor, and listening to calming or happy music. All of these skills can be weaved into other lessons as well, but we do rotating centers to practice these skills. Then, I have students create a stress plan. They name situations or stressors and then identify stress management strategies that will be helpful in the moment.

Looking for stress management activities for kids? Read more about why I teach a whole stress management unit and some creative ways to fit it all in!

When to Fit it In

I’m lucky enough to have the time to be a little flexible, but I know many counselors aren’t able to get into the classroom as often as they may want to. If you’re thinking you don’t have time to teach a whole unit, try pushing in for morning meeting, teaming up with your specials teachers, or even a “working lunch” with a class. Many of the stress management activities will seamlessly fit in with art or PE activities, so a team effort with specials may be just the way to go!


Do you teach stress management as a comprehensive unit? What stress management activities for kids do you use? Click the image below to see more of what’s included in the stress management classroom guidance lessons I teach:

Looking for stress management activities for kids? Read more about why I teach a whole stress management unit and some creative ways to fit it all in!
Looking for stress management activities for kids? Read more about why I teach a whole stress management unit in school counseling classroom guidance lessons and some creative ways to fit it all in! These stress activities are great for elementary school students or middle school students learning to manage stress. -Counselor Keri

7 thoughts on “Why I Teach An Entire Stress Management Unit

  1. Hello Keri,

    Thank you for sharing your passion with us!! Can these resources be used with lower elementary school children, 2nd – 4th grade?

    Lois Ancrum

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