Identify Forms of Self-Care - Classroom Activity | MGH Clay Center

Activity #2: Identify Forms of Self-Care

MGH Clay Center Self-Care for Resilience Classroom Activity -


Posted in: Multimedia

Topics: Stress

It’s Week 2 of our Self-Care for Resilience Classroom Challenge! This week’s activity is to help students Identify Forms of Self-Care.

Don’t forget to log your progress here, when complete! You can also e-mail us, if you prefer.

Please note stress support resources at the end of the activity outline – sometimes conversations about stress can bring up other feelings as well.


Based on how things went last week, decide what will work best for this activity:

  • Class discussion or breakout group discussions
  • Class brainstorm list
  • Written personal reflections, during class or as a homework assignment
  • Home assignment (watch video, etc.)
  • Other ideas you have that you know work well for your students


Class Discussion/Reflection Prompt Ideas

  • Why talk about self-care? To help normalize and de-stigmatize it! Routine self-care so important to our mental and physical health, but with busy schedules and high demands on students, there can be pressure to keep going and never take a break. The more we talk openly with others about the importance of self-care, the more accepted it will be as part of daily life – just like brushing our teeth – as a way to keep us healthier and feeling good.
  • Define resilience. There’s been a lot of talk about resilience: What do you think it means? From everyday challenges to traumatic events, everyone goes through hardships in life. Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of these hardships. It doesn’t mean learning how to shut down or be unaffected by hard times, but rather learning how to “bounce back” from or respond to these situations in an emotionally healthy way. It’s also the way we prevent getting stressed during difficult times. We develop resilience through life experience and practice.
  • Connect self-care to resilience. One way to practice resilience is through self-care. By taking time to identify forms of self-care that help you to get by in challenging situations, you’re adding a tool to your coping toolbox. Self-care also keeps you strong and balanced, and prevents feeling overwhelmed when you face a tough situation.
  • Identify forms of self-care. Self-care is different for everyone, so it might take a little time to figure out what works for you. Keep in mind: What works for your best friend may not work for you! Or, for example, you may love to write in a journal once in a while to clear your head, but doing it every day would feel more like a chore than self-care. There is no right or wrong when it comes to what works for you. Brainstorm a list of two or three different kinds of activities that might work as a regular form of self-care in your life.
    • Are there activities or experiences in everyday life that make you feel good or calm (e.g. exercising, talking with a friend, meditating, listening to music, drawing, etc.).
    • Are there activities you turn to in stressful situations, without thinking about it?
    • For more ideas on where to start, see our Media Resources.
  • Thinking ahead. After you have some ideas of self-care that might work for you, spend time thinking about how any of these could fit into your everyday life. Self-care isn’t something to turn to only when things get tough – it’s a routine thing!


Media Resources on Self-Care

11 Self-Care Tips for Teens (Blog Post by Gene Beresin, MD, MA)

From meditation, to sleep, to creative expression, Dr. Gene Beresin shares 11 ideas to help teens brainstorm types of self-care that might work for them.

11 Self-Care Tips for Teens and Young Adults

Middle School Students Talk About Self-Care (Video, 2 minutes long)

Content note: Topics related to self-care in this clip include activities that help students manage stress related to trouble concentrating, too much homework, peer relationships, questions around gender identity, and bullying.

High School Students Talk About Self-Care (Video, 2 ½ minutes long)

Content note: Topics related to self-care in this clip include activities that help students manage stress related academic pressures, falling behind in school due to illness, first generation applying to college, feeling left out from peers because cannot afford 4-year college, and parents fighting.

College Students Talk About Self-Care (Video, 2 ½ minutes long)

Content note: Topics related to related to self-care in this clip include activities that help students manage stress related to balancing responsibilities and relationships, challenging transitions, issues of race and identity, and feelings of depression and suicide.

Clay Center Staff Talks About Self-Care

For more ideas to help students brainstorm, each member of our team shares 45 seconds on what they do for self-care, and why.

Gene, executive director

Deedee, managing director

Ellen, clinical child psychologist

Steve, child and adolescent psychiatrist

Elisa, visiting artist for civic media

Matt, research assistant

Sara, communications director

Stress Support Resources

Remind your group that if they or someone they know is struggling and needs support, there are resources available. We recommend you be familiar any support resources in your school or organization, but we’ve included additional resources below.

Local resources

  • Talk: to a trusted adult in their life
  • School/City examples: school guidance counselor, community health center

National Resources

Thanks for visiting the Clay Center. We are entirely funded by visitors like you. We receive no financial support from Massachusetts General Hospital or Harvard Medical School. Your support of our work helps us to continue to produce content on mental health topics that support the emotional well-being of young people everywhere.

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