Stress Management Group Activities

Instructor: Clio Stearns

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

Whether you are a teacher, coach, counselor or other group leader, it is so important to teach your group strategies for stress management. This lesson offers specific activities to help a group learn how to manage stress.

Why Stress Management Activities?

Stress is not something that can be avoided in anyone's life. Of course, different individuals respond very differently to stress, depending on temperament and prior experiences, but we all experience it at some point. One of the best things you can do for any group you work with, therefore, is to help them learn how to manage their stress. Stress management does not mean getting rid of all stressful feelings; instead, it means learning to cope with stress so that it does not get in the way of daily functioning and relating to self and others. A great way to teach stress management is to offer specific activities that teach strategies and allow students to learn from and reflect with one another. The activities in this lesson can be modified to meet the needs, ages, and capacities of the people you are working with.

Physical Activities

There are some specific bodily activities you can teach in a group to help with stress management.

Group Massage

Gather your group in a circle. Ask everyone to turn so that each person has another person's back in front of them. Everyone should put their hands on the shoulder of the person in front of them and offer them a two minute massage. Then, have them turn the other way and massage the person on the other side. After this, ask students to reflect on whether and how the massage helped them feel calmer. Have them brainstorm people in their lives that they can feel comfortable swapping occasional 2-minute massages with.

Yoga

Yoga is a proven strategy for managing stress. Choose four or five simple poses to do with your group. Some reasonably easy poses include cat-cow, candlestick, tree pose, and child's pose. Students might know their own helpful poses to share. After doing some simple yoga together, ask your group to reflect on whether and how yoga might help them manage their stress. Consider doing yoga at the start or end of every group session.

Mental Activities

Sometimes, stress management is more of a mental task than a physical one.

Happy Place

Ask each member of your group to journal about a place they have been where they felt happy, peaceful and calm. They should describe this place in as much detail as possible. Anyone who wants can share their description with the group. Then, ask students to practice mentally traveling to that place. Encourage them to go there inside their minds the next time they feel stressed. If you meet again as a group, ask students to share whether they tried this and how it worked for them.

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