Stress Management Activities for Middle Schoolers

Instructor: Grace Pisano

Grace has a bachelor's degree in history and a master's degree in teaching. She previously taught high school in several states around the country.

By middle school, students will be more aware of their mental and emotional health and well-being. Use these activities to help students recognize and manage stress in their day-to-day lives.

Stress Management in Middle School

Although middle school may seem easy compared to the stressors of adult life, the changes your middle school students go through and the challenges they face can easily overwhelm them. Middle school might be the first time students have the emotional maturity to recognize stress and have the chance to implement a plan to reduce stress before they have a negative reaction. Implement one (or all) of these activities into your classroom and see how students respond. In these individual and group activities, you give students the opportunity to talk about and strengthen their mental health.

Creating Young Yogis (Group)

Yoga is an excellent way to combat stress because it combines physical movement and focused breathing with intentional thinking. Some of the students in your class may have done yoga poses before, but to other students this will be entirely new. The best way to implement yoga into your classroom is to set a date for yoga a few weeks out. Let students know that they should wear loose, comfortable clothing (including pants) on the day you practice yoga. Use either yoga mats or gymnastics mats in an open indoor or outdoor area. You may want to work with a physical education teacher at your school to see if this can be incorporated into their curriculum.

Before practicing yoga, talk to students about what they will be doing and how they should focus their attention. Then, move through a short yoga routine. If you are comfortable, you could lead this yourself. Otherwise, there are a plethora of short videos that you can play for students to watch. Complete about 20 minutes of yoga together. When considering the poses, consider the strengths and ability levels of students. This is meant to be a stress management activity, not a stressor. Choose the poses wisely!

Afterwards, talk to students about how they feel and encourage them to continue practicing the moves or research additional poses on their own.

  • Materials Needed: Yoga or gymnastics mats, large open space (gymnasium, soccer field, etc.), possibly laptop or projector to show yoga video

Journaling Emotions (Individual)

For this activity, you will be teaching students how to use a journal when they are upset, anxious or stressed. Studies show that journaling helps manage stress because it allows a person to organize their thoughts and feelings. It is one of the most used stress management techniques.

To teach students about using journaling as a stress management technique, instruct them to write about whatever they are feeling. These journal entries are private and will not be shared with anyone. Students will enjoy the freedom and sense of adulthood this gives. Although students may not be stressed at the time, encourage them to write about whatever they are feeling for a few minutes. Inform students that you will walk through the room to ensure that they are all working, but not collect or read specific journal entries.

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