Impact of stress
Life can be very stressful, whether it is work, family, or friends. However, the impact of this can greatly affect our physical and mental health.
There are a number of exercises and activities that we can use to help us deal with stress. In particular, there are numerous group exercises that can be helpful.
Many of these activities can be a lot of fun, as well as help us to control our emotions.
Benefits of stress management in a group
By participating in stress management activities as a group, teams can develop stronger relationships. It gives people the opportunity to learn skills together and provide support.
Groups may learn better how to work together and problem-solve as a team. All of these skills can then be easily transferrable into the workplace or home.
Below are some useful stress management activities that can be utilized for adults or children, in professional or personal relationships.
Stress management activities
This activity can help promote team building, problem-solving skills, and a healthy sense of competition. Some studies have shown that when we are active, concentrating on something, and taking some level of risk, we reach a flow state. This flow state allows us to be more productive and feel more relaxed. A treasure hunt will encourage each of these three aspects of the flow state.
There are different ways you can create a treasure hunt. You could come up with some clues or riddles that need to be solved to move on to the next one. They could lead to a final treasure once all the clues are solved.
Alternatively, you could give teams a list of items to find around the workplace and have them work together to find them all.
Divide people into teams of three or four people, so that they have to work as a group, but also are competing against others.
Ensure if you are providing clues, that the next clue is placed near the solution of the previous one.
Allow time for reflection after a group has won, to discuss what went well or could have been done better.
This activity encourages everyone to be mindful and focus on the present moment, instead of letting their mind wander or worry. It can also demonstrate how difficult it is to multitask and the importance of focus.
Ask the group to stand in a circle. One person holds a stress ball and passes it to another person. They must remember who they passed to. The next person passes it to someone else, and so on until everyone in the circle has had the ball once. Each person needs to remember who they passed to.
Keep this order going until the pattern is easily remembered. Then you can start adding another ball, one by one. Keep this going and increase the number of balls until everyone is laughing and it is impossible to continue.
Ask everyone how they felt before and after this activity. Likely, everyone will feel a lot calmer following the activity and bonds will be strengthened within the team.
Guided Group Meditation
Meditation is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety. It encourages us to look at things from a new perspective using new skills. It can increase our own self-awareness as we reflect on our thoughts and feelings and can help to create focus. Also, it can strengthen group dynamics as everyone has a shared intention and feels a sense of relaxation together.
Ask the group to sit or lie down with their eyes closed. The facilitator will read from a script of guided meditation. This can involve a number of things. For example, it may be that the group is asked to visualize a relaxing setting or to reflect on certain thoughts and feelings.
After, the group will feel more relaxed. Everyone can discuss how they felt before and after and reflect on whether they found this useful.
Laughter is a sure way to relieve stress and improve our mood. When we laugh, our brain releases dopamine, which creates a feeling of pleasure and happiness.
Laughing together as a group can help us to connect with others and form stronger bonds.
Ask each person in the group to bring something in that makes them laugh. This could be a joke, video, meme, comic, or even a story about an embarrassing moment.
Everyone shares their thing with the group. Everyone will laugh together and find shared happiness. Also, laughter is infectious, so even if you don’t find the joke funny, you might still laugh as you see everyone around you laughing.
This can be a great way to start the workday and put everyone in a good mood. It can help to relieve any individual or group tensions so the team can work together more effectively.
It can be very easy to focus on any negative aspects of our lives and neglect positivity. Sharing things we are grateful for can remind us to think of the positives. This can reduce stress levels, help us feel happier, and even improve sleep.
Split the group into two teams. Each person in a group writes on a piece of paper something they are grateful for. The teams then hand over the pieces of paper to the opposite team.
The teams take turns drawing what is on a piece of paper onto a big board. Their team has to guess what they are drawing within two minutes.
For each correct guess, the group wins a point. The group with the most points wins.
This can be a fun way to spread joy and have fun while working on creating positive teamwork.
Often, we create stress in our own minds. This can be unnecessary at times, as we tend to imagine negative outcomes of things that haven’t even happened yet. This activity can help us to check which thoughts might be realistic and which aren’t. It reminds us to consider all outcomes; both positive and negative while learning to prepare for each specific situation we might encounter.
Everyone is asked to think about something that they find stressful. This could be anything from spending time with the mother-in-law, to a big work deadline, to bumping into an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend.
Next, they are asked to consider all possible consequences and outcomes of this situation for five minutes. Encourage them to intensify these thoughts and consider the best and worst-case scenarios.
All of a sudden, tell them to stop. Ask each individual how they are feeling. Have any of those consequences actually occurred?
This can remind us of how powerful our minds can be and how much they can impact our happiness if we let them. Thinking about horrible situations that are not real only serves to worsen our mood and create undue stress.
Help From Colleagues
This activity can be very useful to help teams build strong bonds. It can encourage group and individual understanding. This can be especially important to remember, as we all have different needs, triggers, and calming techniques.
Give each member of the team a piece of paper and a pen. Ask everyone to write down two things;
- What I need my colleagues to do when I am stressed is…
- What I need my colleagues NOT to do when I am stressed is…
Give people the opportunity to consider useful and unhelpful responses to their stress. Make copies of each person’s requests and allow the team to learn about each other.
Now, if a colleague sees someone struggling and feeling stressed, there is clear guidance on what they should or shouldn’t do. This gives everyone the opportunity to deal with their own stress, and to help others in effective ways.
Team dynamics can change dramatically after this exercise. It can promote healthy responses to stressful situations and strengthen team relationships.
Pass The Water
This activity can help teams to reflect on how quickly a build-up of stress can affect an individual. It promotes teamwork and highlights the importance of checking on our colleagues’ well-being.
Ask the group to stand in a circle and to pass around a half-full cup of water without spilling it. After they have done this a couple of times, add another cup of water. And then add another. Keep adding more cups until there are a number of them going around.
Then remove some of the half-full cups and replace them with 3/4 full cups. Gradually, ask a few people to leave the circle, so it becomes smaller. Tell the remaining people to pass the cups faster and faster, still without spilling any.
Then stop. Ask each person how they felt. Ask those who left the circle how it felt to leave the rest of the team working harder and harder. Hopefully, these individuals will state that they felt a desire to help those left in the circle, as they could see them struggling.
Ask those left in the circle how it felt to have increased pressure placed upon them. They will likely say that they wanted the others to come back into the circle to help them.
This can be a great way to realize the value of teamwork and shared responsibilities.
This activity can help individuals within a team to feel validated and heard. It also gives people the opportunity to share their feelings without being put on the spot.
Also, it can be a useful way to demonstrate that we all share similar stresses and triggers and that we are not alone in feeling this way. Because of this, it promotes teamwork and the importance of helping one another.
Ask each person to write on a piece of paper one thing that they find particularly stressful. This can be work-related, or something in their personal lives. Tie this piece of paper to a balloon and pass it around the balloon until everyone’s paper is attached.
One person in the group will read out each stressful situation. Another person will write all of these onto a big board, so it is clear for everyone to see.
Now, the team can discuss everything on the board, without knowing who wrote what. It could be easy to spot themes occurring within these statements or even for the same thing to appear multiple times. This in itself can feel very validating for some.
The team can also discuss various situations and useful ways to manage them. Some people may have tips in managing specific things, so as a group, certain aspects may find resolutions.
Therefore, people will hopefully find this helpful and may find it easier in the future to manage these stressful situations and remain calm.
This is something that can be done as a group or as an individual. Also, it can be a focus for a long session of half an hour, or even just for 10 seconds.
Take deep, slow breaths and focus on the air moving in and out.
Often when we feel stressed, we experience physiological symptoms as well. These can include an increased heart rate, clammy hands, and stomach or chest pain. Unfortunately, this will make it even harder to cope with the anxiety and stress we are experiencing.
By focusing on our breathing, we can reduce these physical symptoms in the body and slow the heart. While at the same time, we can clear our minds so that we can return to the situation feeling calmer. Then, we are more able to tackle whatever it is that is causing us stress.
Hopefully, some of these stress management techniques are useful for you to manage stress.
One of the most important things to remember is that the effects of stress can be detrimental to your health. So, use some of these stress reduction techniques in your professional or personal life. Because, if you can better manage stress and remain calm, your body and mind will thank you.