Middle schoolers learned tips and techniques to handle life’s everyday stressors when a visitor from the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center was the featured speaker at an assembly. “Stress is something that we all deal with at different points in our life, so it’s important to know how to manage it,” said wellness teacher, Betsy Metcalfe.
With worksheets in hand, students were guided by Alex Yannacone through several exercises to help them identify what’s stressing them, categorize it and take action to make their lives less stressful.
“The job of stress is to motivate us and help us focus on something we need to accomplish,” Ms. Yannacone said.
Four Steps to Managing Stress
Listen to it and unpack the message.
Identify if the stress is fixable, unfixable or an overreaction.
Order your to-do list.
Going through the types of stress, Ms. Yannacone explained each and gave students ideas on how stressful situations can be managed and used for positive outcomes. If the stress is fixable, such as “I’m afraid I’ll fail a test,” students were advised to make an action plan to relieve the anxiety.
“It was good to think through steps I can take and to write them down on paper,” said Sawyer Vinton (7).
Her classmate, Grace Lohr (7) added, “I knew I needed to stop procrastinating, but now I know how.”
Unfixable stress might include a loved one’s illness or another situation that is out of our control. Ms. Yannacone encouraged students to find healthy ways to release their emotions, to ask for help, and to surround themselves with a support network. “Be direct in letting these people know how you may act and how they can support you,” she said. Adam Wang thought he would try doing more of the things he enjoys, like hanging out with friends, to manage stressful situations that he can’t control.
Overreactions include worrying about something that is in the distant future, such as “Will I get married someday?” Students learned to rate these overreactions and determine if they can make a long range plan to reach a future goal or if the stress is just “silly” and they can rationally dismiss it.
After reflecting on the lesson for a few days, Teddy Alfond (7), said, “It made me think more about stress and how to monitor it.”
Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.