Is Stress Weighing You Down?

Manage and overcome stress in healthy, helpful ways to improve your quality of life.

About the Activity

We all experience stress at times. In fact, stress isn't always bad. Stress can get us to work harder, be more alert, and compete at a higher level. But too much stress can cause problems. It may make you feel depressed or anxious. When this happens, some people turn to tobacco, alcohol, or drugs to relieve stress. Using these substances only creates more stress.

In this activity, you’ll learn to identify sources of stress in your life, discover healthy ways to manage it, and help others overcome their stress.

This activity is part of our 4-H Health Rocks!® program. See the rest of the activities here.

Grades: 3-8
Topic: Healthy Living, Mindfulness
Estimated Time: 45 minutes

Boy with head in his heads and mother comforting him

New Interactive Activities!

4-H at Home's new, interactive lessons provide a much more exciting, fun way to learn. Click the Launch Lesson button to try it out!

Start by gathering all the materials you’ll need for this activity.

  • Paper
  • Pencil or pen
  • A bag of dried beans, rice, pennies, pebbles, or other small items
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Activity Steps

  1. Take a minute to think about what causes stress in your life. Perhaps it’s preparing for a test, arguing with a friend, learning you weren't invited to an upcoming party, or caring for a sick pet.
  2. Across the top of a piece of paper, write down 5 things that cause you stress.
  3. Review the items on your list. For each one, fill your container with a cup of beans or other small items. Once you're finished, lift the container in front of you, arms stretched out. How does it feel?
  1. Review the “Healthy Ways to Relieve Stress” worksheet. Under each of your 5 causes of stress, write down 3 healthy ways to relieve that stress. For instance, if you wrote "not being ready for a math test" as a cause of stress, you could write "arrange to study with a friend" as a way to relieve it.
  2. Once you write down healthy ways to deal with the things that stress you, pour out half of the small items in your container, then hold the container up again in front of you. Does it feel lighter?
  3. Select one of the stress relievers that you'd like to draw. Create a picture illustrating this stress reliever. Use crayons, markers, glue, and your "stress beans" to create a mosaic. (1) Draw a picture of one of your stress relievers. (2) Glue the “stress beans” or other small items to your picture. (3) Continue using your art supplies to fill in the spaces of the drawing and create a mosaic.
  4. Think about what this activity showed you about stress, ways to relieve it, and how you might encourage your friends towards healthy stress relief options.
Girl standing in front of a chalkboard thinking

Reflection Questions
Bonus questions to help you think deeper:

  1. What does stress feel like? Is it a pain in your body? Does it make you feel heavy or weighted down?
  2. How does it feel to eliminate or reduce a stressor in your life? Does it feel lighter? Do your feelings change?
  3. What are a few ways to relieve stress in your life? Are you able to apply those stress relievers?
  4. How might you suggest to a friend who chooses tobacco, alcohol, or drugs for stress-relief, to instead work on the source of their stress?
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Investigate and Explore
Take what you've learned to the next level to learn more and explore the possibilities.

This lesson is focused on stress, and showcases how some people think that tobacco, alcohol, and drugs can be used as stress-relievers. It’s important to remember that you have a lot to lose by engaging in risky behaviors. If you can learn how to identify signs of stress and focus on healthy ways of managing it, you will be in better control of your quality of life.

Now, take your knowledge to “Family Corner” and “Community Corner.”

Family Corner: Share your stress list with family and talk about your stress relievers.
Use the stress bean idea at home. Have family members write down their stressors, talk about options for relieving stress, and create a stress bean mosaic together.

Community Corner: Show your classmates, club members, or other friends what you created with the stress beans. Help your friends and classmates identify healthy options for relieving stress.

Father talking to son

Career Connections

STEM Careers

Who do you go to when you are stressed? Teachers, doctors, and social workers are important members of our community that can help people when they feel overwhelmed or anxious. They help us by listening to what makes us worried and offering solutions to make us feel better. If you enjoy helping others find healthy ways to cope with stress, you can start now by being a good listener with your friends and classmates.

Health Rocks! Curriculum from Shop 4-H

Shop 4‑H has Health Rocks! facilitator guides for beginner (ages 8-12) and intermediate (ages 12-14) levels.  Now available in Spanish.


Beginner Level

Grades: 3-6

Appropriate for 4-H clubs, school settings, homeschools, camps, health classes, as afterschool or enrichment activities, etc.



Intermediate Level

Grades: 7-9

Appropriate for 4-H clubs, school settings, homeschools, camps, health classes, as afterschool or enrichment activities, etc.



My Health Rocks! Journal

This interactive journal is for you to mark up and make important notes.



Nivel Inicial

Health Rocks! es una serie de planes de estudios para lideres que forma parte de un programa de vida saludable destinado a jovenes de 8 a 12 años, y cuya meta es reunir a los jovenes, las familias y las comunidades de los Estados Unidos para reducir el consumo de tabaco, alcohol y drogas de esos jovenes.



Nivel Intermedio

Es la segunda de una serie de dos planes de estudios para líderes. Esta guía para el nivel intermedio contiene actividades para jóvenes de 12 a 14 años, y se centra en intereses propios de esta franja etaria.



Health Rocks! T-shirt

This 4-H Health Rocks! t-shirt is relaxed, tailored and ultra-comfortable.



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