Thursday, May 2, 2013

DON'T STRESS! (teaching YW to deal with stress)

     For our most recent Mia Maid class activity we had an activity called "Don't Stress!" It seems like the pressure grows every year for these girls, and as they move from junior high/middle school to high school, the pressure is even greater. Schoolwork, sports, extracurricular programs, family responsibilities, etc. I wanted to teach the girls how to deal with stress in a productive way.

     This was a low-key, discussion kind of activity. 

     I made a print-out of the following information (in blue) for each girl, but I didn't give it to them until the end (so they wouldn't just read ahead and get bored). I had a copy for myself and went over it as we 'discussed'. 

     Basically, I explained a little about what stress is, then I asked:
  • What kind of things are stressful to kids their age? (I thought it was better to be general and then let them share if they wanted)
  • How can they tell (physically) if they are experiencing a lot of stress? (headaches? stiff muscles?)
  • Who would they talk to if they needed help with stress? (this opened a discussion about whether or not they felt comfortable approaching parents, etc)
  • How much sleep do you get? (Can you get more?)
  • Can you prevent some of the things that are stressing you out? 
  • How does exercise help us feel better?
  • Why would pray help people deal with stress?

For our purposes, I kept this very basic (it was a short activity because we had some other YW business to do at the beginning of Mutual), but you could expand this activity idea by adding more to it. Maybe have someone come and teach yoga or meditation?

Here is the sheet I printed out (the entire blue section below). You can copy it onto a word document to print it out....

   Most people think that “stress” is bad, but stress actually means a change or challenge, which isn't necessarily mean a bad thing. For example, if you move to a nicer house, that might be a good thing, but just the change involved would be a sort of stress...a change in your lifestyle that means you have to make adjustments and choices. Or you may be offered two great summer jobs (a good thing), but have to choose between them (which would be the stress part).

   Our response to stress situations is actually biological (have you ever heard of 'fight or flight' response? When faced with the stress of danger , the body gets adrenaline to help you have the energy to deal with it, whether you decide to face the danger (fight) or run away (flight)).

Some sources of stress for teens might include:
  • school demands  
  • social competition, peer pressure, problems with friends
  • bad self-image
  • family problems or issues
  • moving or changing schools
  • having too many activities
  • having too high expectations
  • financial problems

   People who deal with a lot of stress, or who don’t know how to deal with stress can start to have physical problems because of it. These are the common symptoms of too much stress:

Common effects of stress ...
... On your body ... On your mood ... On your behavior
  • Headache
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Stomach upset
  • Sleep problems
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation or focus
  • Irritability or anger
  • Sadness or depression
  • Over-eating or under-eating
  • Angry outbursts
  • Social withdrawal
 (Source: The Mayo Clinic)*


Help for stress:
Physical activity – exercise is physical, but it also helps us feel better spiritually and mentally.
      Find solutions to help prevent stressful situations For example, if you are overwhelmed with homework, maybe reconsider how you schedule your time (do you put off assignments until the last minute? Try to do your homework when you’re too tired?)\
      Talk to a trusted adult (parent, leader, teacher)

Get enough sleep the average teen needs 9 ½ hours of sleep a night (according to the american sleep disorders association), if your body doesn’t get enough sleep, it can’t fully recover from the previous day and recharge for the next day.
      Try increasing the amount of time you pray. You may also want to try meditation and/or deep breathing. “Research shows that people who are more religious are better able to cope with stress, they heal faster from illness, and they experience increased benefits to their health and well-being. Students who had strong religious correlations also had higher positive feelings, lower levels of depression, and were better equipped at handling stress”

ACTIVITY PURPOSE: Teaching the girls about how to cope with stress, pointing them toward good health habits, reaching out to parents & leaders when needed, and encouraging prayer

*I have removed a few of the originally listed symptoms to make this list more appropriate for YW

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the idea. We're doing this tonight, along with talking about making goals.