"Cool Down" Strategies

Introduce students to three simple strategies to reduce anxiety and stress.
Ages 8-10 / 15
min Activity
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  • Practice mindfulness strategies that foster feelings of safety and peace and can be completed discreetly at their desks  
  • Reflect on times when they feel overwhelmed and which strategy could be most effective during these moments

Supporting Research

Researchers have found that practicing yoga significantly improved emotion regulation in adolescents, especially during periods of increased stress. This activity aims to foster students’ self-care by introducing strategies to feel better and more focused when they feel overwhelmed. 

To learn more about this skill, and how it promotes students’ healthy growth and the development of empathy, please check out our Empathy Framework.


Activity Partners


  1. Introduce students to the “Cool Down” strategies by explaining: “Everyone feels overwhelmed sometimes - maybe it’s because we have a big exam coming up, or we’re in a new environment or place that’s unfamiliar to us. When we feel overwhelmed, it’s important to have some strategies that help us feel better. Today, we’re going to practice three ways to “cool down”. The best part is that we can do them quietly at our desks if we need a moment to rest without anyone noticing.”
  2. Model and practice the following strategies together: 

    Hand Tracing 

    Place one hand on your leg or on a table. Then, use the pointer finger on your other hand to trace up the thumb as you slowly breathe in, and trace down the thumb as you slowly breathe out. Continue to trace each finger as you breathe slowly, and notice how you feel. If you want to keep going, try tracing your other hand as you take some more deep breaths. 


    Sit up tall in your chair, and breathe slowly as you twist your upper body. Take a moment to observe what’s around you. Then, still breathing slowly, return to the middle and twist to the other side. Take another moment to look around, and notice how you feel. 

    Head on Desk

    Gently rest your head, either by using one hand to support your forehead, or resting your head on both hands on top of your desk. Breathe slowly, and notice the warmth and soft pressure from your hand. If you feel comfortable, close your eyes as you rest. When you’re ready, lift your head and notice how you feel. 
  3. Afterwards, ask students if there was a strategy that was particularly effective for them, and when they might consider using this strategy (e.g., when they feel worried about a presentation). 

    Remind them that they can use these strategies when they are feeling overwhelmed, and distribute a copy of the “Cool Down” cards to each student as a reference for the future.   

If students in both classes have individual devices (e.g., mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc.)...

Use a platform such as Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams which allows you to screen-share during a video call. 
One educator should set up the Kahoot! game and share the code with students in both classes by following this tutorial about using Kahoot! in a remote learning environment, and share their screen so everyone can follow along.

If students in either class don’t have individual devices...

Follow the same instructions above, with one educator starting the game and sharing their screen so both classes can follow along.  
Instead of students joining the game to answer the questions, they can hold up their fingers, call out their answer, or use a paper template to indicate their response.

If you prefer not using Kahoot!...

Use this document (Spanish version) to prompt students.