Background Knowledge:

Stress is a normal part of life. How a person responds to stress can determine whether it becomes eustress (beneficial stress) or distress. That response heavily depends on the person’s nutrition, sleep levels, and coping strategies. It is important to learn and practice coping strategies for managing stress to keep well-being balanced.

Lesson Plan:

  1. Tell the students it is story time and read the following situations to the class in the most suspenseful and exciting voice you can muster. This is the time to really hone in on your theatrical abilities. Have students write how they feel in their interactive notebooks as you read each situation.
    1. “Imagine … you are breathing hard and sweating from running up and down the court for the last 10 minutes. Your heart is pumping fast as you see the clock winding down to the last seconds of the game. Richard passes you the ball, and even though you are far from the hoop, you shoot the ball with the most strength and accuracy you can find. And …” (Take a few deep breaths to calm yourself down as if that was a very exhilarating experience, and reset for the next situation.)
    2. “Imagine … you are standing alone in the middle of a dark stage. You are in your starting position, staring at the black floor and rehearsing the steps in your head. The heavy curtain splits in front of you and opens for you to see the audience and the audience to see you. The spotlight points to you, the music plays, and you begin to dance …”
    3. “Imagine … you have been studying all week. You have memorized facts and practiced every step 100 times. You feel prepared, but will it be enough? This test is worth half your grade. Will you remember everything you’ve studied? Yes …”
  2. Explain the following terms to students:
    1. Good Stress: Did you know that stress can be a good thing? Good stress, also known as “eustress,” happens when you’re safe and don’t feel afraid. Good stress can help you get used to situations that might seem frightening at first. It can also motivate you. For example, you might feel stressed about a class presentation. This stress may motivate you to research your topic well, practice your presentation, and do your best. Good stress can increase your well-being as well as improve your performance on tasks.
    2. Bad Stress: Unlike good stress, bad stress lingers and makes you feel overwhelmed. Bad stress, also known as “distress,” can happen if you don’t use coping strategies. Bad stress can weaken your immune system, make you feel sick, and impair your ability to perform well.
    3. Pressure: Stress usually starts with pressure. “Pressure” refers to a situation in which you have too many things to do or think about — lots of demands and expectations but not enough time or energy to get them done.
  3. Explain that the situations you read to them represent eustress. Eustress is good stress that motivates you and makes life exciting. Other times, they might experience distress, such as when they get in arguments with friends or when their schedules are too full.
  4. Have students think of a time when they felt pressure. In their interactive notebooks, have students draw abstract art to depict how the pressure felt.
  5. Invite students to write their pressures on an anonymous paper and discuss as a class. Help students think of ways to turn the pressure into eustress.
Think Deeply:

Why do you think stress can affect people negatively? What can be done to change this?

Well-Being Questions:

How can stress help you?
What is one thing you can do to help you manage your stress positively?

Let’s Write:

Write down a list of coping strategies (positive things you can do) to help you when you feel stress.

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