Purpose: Students draw pictures that illustrate stress and identify its source in their lives.
1. Students draw representations of stress.
Ask students to think about what stress feels like. Distribute sheets of drawing paper, and give students a few minutes to draw a picture of stress.
After a minute or two, ask students if they have drawn their pictures in a setting. If they haven’t, suggest that they add to their drawings to show where the stress is taking place.
2. Students identify sources of stress.
Focus students’ attention on what they have drawn. Direct them to choose a word that describes their pictures of stress and write it down. Have them label where their drawings take place, and write one or two words that tell what causes the stress.
Explain that stress is tension, or feelings of pressure or anxiety. Point out that stress can happen when people, events, or situations make us feel powerless or out of control. Say, “Let’s take a look at your examples.”
Draw three columns on the board, and label them “Feelings,” “Places,” “Causes.” Ask students to share the words they wrote to describe their pictures. Write responses under the “Feelings” column on the board. Then, ask students to name where their pictures take place. Write these responses in the “Places” column. Proceed in a similar manner with the causes of stress that students have identified.
3. Students make observations.
Have students review the list and identify major sources of stress common in all their lives. Write their responses on the board. Through questions and comments, guide students to identify such sources as the following:
- School (homework, tests, and grades)
- Parents (expectations for behavior and achievement)
- Friends and peers (pressures for behavior, relationships, and conformity)
Point out that many of these things are not stressful in themselves, but they become sources of stress because of how we perceive them. Tests, for example, are usually stressful when we are not prepared for them. If we are prepared, we might feel a little nervous, but we would probably not feel stressed about it.
Explain to students that if they can identify what causes them to feel stress, then they can learn how to deal with it, and even turn it into something positive rather than negative.