Lesson #3: How Does Stress Make You Feel?

Activity type: Brainstorm & Discussion
Grade level: 5-8th
Time: 20-30 minutes

Educational objective: Understand the symptoms of stress on your body and emotions.

Stress!

Here’s How:

  1. SHARE: Observations from your stress triggers and attempts to get back in balance from the last Real World Challenge.
  2. INTRO: Everyone has stress responses. Maybe you can’t find something you need. Or a friend teases you. Or you get in a fight with your brother/sister. Or you make a mistake and people laugh. Sometimes your response to one of those situations is no big deal. Other times, you may be totally knocked off-balance. In all cases, stress creates lots of changes very quickly.
  3. BRAINSTORM: What physical changes do you notice when you’re stressed? NOTE: Make a running list on the board.

    PHYSICAL CHANGES: Surge of adrenalin (a stress hormone); increased heart rate; rapid, shallow breathing; loss of appetite. Why does this happen?

    SHORT ANSWER:
    Sensing danger, your brain prepares you to fight or run. A jolt of adrenalin heightens your awareness.
    • Increased heart rate gets blood pumping so you can be strong and/or run fast. Quick breathing oxygenates blood. All non-essential functions shut down & energy gets re-directed to the heart, etc.
    • Digestive system shuts down (stress-induced stomach aches are common).
    • Immune system shuts down too. Not fighting infection now. Short-term, no harm. Long-term stress contributes to high blood pressure, ulcers, lowered immunity, etc.
  4. BRAINSTORM: What changes in your emotions do you notice when you’re stressed?

    EMOTIONAL CHANGES are usually in the realm of anger (lashing out) OR withdrawal (shutting down). Fight or flight.
  5. REAL WORLD CHALLENGE: Notice your own physical and emotional symptoms to stress. Try to calm yourself down before you lose control.

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