Relaxation in First and Second Grades

What do First and Second Graders think of when they hear the word “stress”? Some students immediately go to their own sources of and reactions to stress, and others first think of their parents (mainly mom!). Here is what four classrooms of students shared in our lessons last week about how to deal with stress:

– “I imagine ropes are tied all around me, and I have to be really still and tight, and then they fall down.”
– “I think of ropes tied to my hands and feet, and they’re all pulling me in different directions. I don’t know what to do.”
– “Worry. Anxiety. My lungs can’t get enough air.”
– “I am stressed when I think about maybe getting diseases. Am I going to get this disease? Am I going to get that disease? What if my mom and dad and brother get a disease and they die?”
– “When you’re reading at home, and you don’t know a word, and you can’t figure it out… that makes me stressed.”
– “It’s when people pull their hair out!”
– “I think of my mom because when my sister and I say, ‘Mommy mommy mommy mommy,’ it stresses her out.”
– “My mom gets stressed out when she has to take me to gymnastics, my brother to a baseball game, and my little sister to a party.”
– “Stress is when you’re trying to work with a group and the other people aren’t working, and you’re like ‘Aaaahhhh!'”

During our discussion, all students agreed that everyone feels stress every day! Stress affects our thoughts and our bodies. If we allow stress to consume us, we don’t work as well, we can’t concentrate as well, and we’re not as happy as we wish to be. By practicing relaxation techniques and other strategies for de-stressing, all of us can work to manage our stress and improve overall health throughout the day.

After our discussion, the students found a comfortable place in the room in preparation for 13 minutes of progressive muscle relaxation. We listened to this relaxation video and learned how to tense and relax our muscles to de-stress. Students can use some of these exercises silently at their desks or anytime they’re experiencing stress. Throughout the rest of the school year, we’ll discuss additional techniques for conquering feelings of stress.

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