Managing Anxiety Activities for High School Students

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

In today's stressful world, anxiety can be a major struggle for adolescents. This lesson offers some activities that will help your high school students manage anxiety now and throughout their lives.

The Gift of Anxiety Management

Have you ever noticed that your high school students often seem stressed and worried? Today's adolescents have to cope with so many different internal and external stressors; it's no wonder that they might experience anxiety. Unlike stress, however, anxiety continues whether or not a concrete stressor is present. However, you don't have to look at this negatively. Instead, focus on the fact that if you teach your students to manage anxiety well while they are still in high school, they will develop skills that they can use throughout their education as well as for the rest of their lives.

It's important to remember that some anxiety is beyond the scope of management in the classroom, and you always want to stay alert to the need for family or therapeutic involvement. However, the activities in this lesson can go a long way toward helping your students manage their basic anxiety.

Anxiety Management Activities

Following are several anxiety management activities that you can teach your students to use.

Visualization

A great way to help your students manage anxiety is to teach them visualization tricks. Ask students to think about a place or image that they associate with calm and inner peace. Provide your own example of such a place. Then, give students a chance to draw pictures of what they are imagining. Students might feel private about these pictures; respect their wish for privacy, but give them an opportunity to share if they want to. Then, teach students to close their eyes and spend one to five minutes imagining that they are in that place or close to that image. Explain that doing this sort of visualization can be a major help, especially when they are feeling anxiety that is not related to something concrete, and they need to escape from it internally. When you notice students feeling anxious, encourage them to engage in visualization. Gradually, it might become habitual to them.

Yoga and Exercise

Another helpful strategy for managing anxiety can be to get the whole body involved. There are different ways to do this, and you'll want to assess the interests and capacities of your group of students. One idea is to teach your whole class a few simple yoga poses that they can do to re-center themselves when they're feeling anxious. You can do these poses as a whole class at the beginning of every period. It's also important to teach your students that exercise can help manage anxiety. Take students outside to the recess yard, or bring them to the gym. Ask them to run freely, as fast as they can, for two minutes without stopping. They are not racing or paying attention to anything but their own bodies. Then, bring them together to talk about how that felt. Explain that sometimes deep and intense exercise can really help get rid of intense anxiety.

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