ESL Stress Management Lesson Plan

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

This lesson plan for English Language Learners focuses on stress-related idioms and tips for stress management. Students also make a stress ball that they can use to help them relax.

Learning Objectives

As a result of this lesson, students will:

  • Define stress and stress management.
  • Explain the meanings of stress-related idioms.
  • Discuss stress with a peer, using stress-related vocabulary.
  • Identify potential stress management approaches to match their needs.


45-60 minutes

Curriculum Standards

ELP 9-12.1

An ELL can construct meaning from oral presentations and literary and informational text through grade-appropriate listening, reading, and viewing.

ELP 9-12.2

An ELL can participate in grade-appropriate oral and written exchanges of information, ideas, and analyses, responding to peer, audience, or reader comments and questions.

Materials Needed

  • Stress management strategies presentation
  • Helium-quality balloons (round or oval)
  • Play sand
  • Funnel or cone made of tagboard
  • Idiom cards
  • List of idioms on the board.


  • Stress-related idioms:
    • I've got a lot on my plate.
    • I don't know whether I'm coming or going.
    • I've had it up to here.
    • He drives me up a wall.
    • I'm all charged up.
    • She drives me crazy.
    • I'm at my wit's end.
    • I'm stressed out.
    • I'm at the end of my rope.
    • My head's about to explode.
    • I'm wound up.
    • I'm drowning in paperwork.
    • I'm up to my ears in work.
    • I'm snowed under.
    • I'm coming apart at the seams
    • I'm burned out.
  • Stress relief idioms:
    • Able to breathe easier.
    • Blow off steam.
    • Catch your breath.
    • Put your feet up.
    • Recharge your batteries.
    • Let your hair down.
    • Take a step back.
    • Veg out.
    • Wind down.


  • Introduce the word, 'stress.' Talk about what stress is and what it means to be 'stressed out.'
  • Read through the stress-related idioms included with this lesson plan. Talk about what each idiom means. Have any of the students heard or used these idioms?
  • Have the students turn to a partner and give an example of something that makes them stressed.
  • Which idiom do they think best describes how they feel when they are stressed?
  • Introduce the phrase, 'stress management.'
  • Show the students a presentation, such as a PowerPoint presentation, that includes both images and information about these stress-management tips:
    • Identify causes of stress and figure out how to address them.
    • Avoid the people or situations who make you feel stressed or anxious.
    • Learn effective time management skills. Don't procrastinate. Balance your schedule.
    • Get enough sleep. 7-8 hours a day is needed for almost every adult to function well.
    • Express your feelings instead of holding them inside.
    • Take care of yourself. Eat well. Avoid caffeine and sugar.
    • Look at the big picture; keep things in the proper perspective. You can't control everything.
    • Don't let your personal standards be your enemy. Learn that it is okay not to be perfect.
    • Learn to say 'no.' It's okay not to do everything that everyone else wants you to do.
    • Identify your priorities and focus on those. Make a list of what is most important to you, and be sure your attention goes mostly to the things on your list.
    • Make time to do something fun every day. It could be five minutes of total silence, time to read a book or work in the garden; anything that makes you relax and gives you enjoyment.
    • Make time for exercise daily. Walk, jog, dance, do yoga; anything that gets you moving.
    • Be organized. Time management is easier when you can find the things you need without spending a lot of time looking for them.

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