Patricia S. Barkley
  This is the second lesson in a series on stress reduction lessons designed to help students identify stress and determine ways to combat it. The lessons are: 1. Stress reduction: Identifying and combating stressors 2. Stress reduction: Deep breathing techniques 3. Stress reduction: Visual imagery

  Health, critical thinking, writing, job skills, life skills

Learner Level:
  Multilevel…can be adapted to almost any level because much of it is discussion-based

Time Frame:
  One hour

Learner Grouping:
  Best suited for small groups or a whole class, but may be individual

  This class was made up of 15-18 ABE students who were given one hour paid time and took another hour of their own time at the time of shift changes at a local manufacturing plant. The class met in the company conference room (or "break" room), and we had excellent support from management.


  Central KY Technical College Adult Ed. Program

Type of Program:

Student Population Served:
  Basic skills (students with grade levels 5.0-12.9) majority; some literacy

Stress reduction: Deep breathing techniques

Students are led in deep breathing exercises and practice this technique together. Students write about a stressful time in their experiences and their reaction to it. __________________________________________________________

Learning Objective:
Students will practice deep breathing techniques as part of stress reduction, and will start to use the technique as an automatic response to stress. Students will assess a stressful situation as a writing exercise.

Primary Skill:
Lifelong learning

Secondary Skills:
Actively listening, reflecting and evaluating, writing/communication

Learner Needs & Goals:
Learners need to develop some new habits in order to achieve stress reduction. One such habit is that of deep breathing, and the student needs to practice it in some detail in order to make it an automatic response as needed.

Learning Activity Description:
(1) Review
Review previous lesson via handout summarizing main points…may have students read the various points or discuss quickly with whole class aloud…whatever seems to work best for the makeup of your particular group.

(2) Introduce DEEP BREATHING with the whole class
Stand erect with feet shoulder-width apart, arms and hands relaxed downward, body relaxed as if it were anchored to the ground through feet and to the sky from top of the head, shoulders slightly forward and eyes closed. Focus on lower abdomen (belly) and imagine a small balloon in that space; breather in slowly and deeply through nostrils, imagining the balloon inflating slowly; hold a few seconds; slowly exhale through mouth, imagining the balloon gently deflating; repeat 10 or more times. See how different your body feels. Are you more relaxed? Do you feel lighter? Dizzy? Great?! This is an exercise to practice several times a day, even while sitting at a red light (especially during rush hour!), and soon the body will develop the habit. Then, when stress threatens, the body will automatically go into the relaxation mode.

(3) Practice
Practice several times with class. Field any questions, which may arise. Assist students until they achieve a degree of excellence in deep breathing.

(4) Work in groups
Divide class into groups from previous class session, and share homework notebook entries (if students are willing to share…otherwise, have a few scenarios made up on index cards for backup). As a group, try to identify the source of the stress and discuss possible strategies to overcome it. Do this for all group members. Remind students that it is possible to do this deep breathing in the restroom on a break, or even mentally at their workstation as needed.

(5) Work individually
Return to seats and individually write a paragraph about what was learned from one of the experiences. "What happened to you or the other person? How did you or the other person react? What do you think could be done to alleviate the stress in a similar situation?" Have learners keep the paragraph for future use. This could be a spin-off to a grammar lesson as needed by the individual. Be sure to have a folder, notebook, etc. of some kind to keep student work in. Allow time for questions and answers.

(6) Homework
Keep journal entries again, this time recording not only stresses, but also how you responded to the stressor.

Materials and Resources:
Journal entries from previous class
Writing paper and pens/pencils
Handout summarizing "The warning signs of stress" and "Techniques to cope with stress" from previous lesson

Attachments: (For Internet Explorer users, right click on link then choose "Save target as". For Netscape users, just hold down the shift key and click on the link.)

The warning signs of stress

Learners now know the value of deep breathing as a method of relaxing and staying in control, and they have the skill to do so whenever they feel threatened. The only assessment of success would be if the students report successful use of the technique in their lives

Some students were somewhat inhibited about the actual breathing practice, so do be sure to ask them to close their eyes. Encourage them to try to do it several times on the job, even though they may not be feeling especially stressed at the moment. It must become a habit, and habits are not formed quickly nor changed easily.

The class was very cohesive and cooperative and felt that this sort of information was very valuable to workers in blue-collar positions as well as white-collar workers. These lessons can be a "hard sell" at first, especially for busy men who think they have no time to think about stress. However, once recruited to the class, it is most likely that more time will be needed as people recognize stressors in their lives that they had not been aware of before, and they will want to talk-share-compare to try to develop coping mechanisms.


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