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Session: Understanding Stress

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Group Exercise for Stress Management

Group Exercise for Stress Management

Published in: Health & Medicine

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  • 1. Psychoeducational GroupsDavid BarryUnderstanding StressDescription:Stress is one of the primary factors that can lead to relapse and prevent individuals from managingtheir lives successfully. It is inevitable that all individuals will experience stress from time to time.What can help individuals more successfully manage their stress is to better understand therelationships between the negative events, “stressors”, they may experience and how they react tothose stressors.This session teaches participants how to begin to understand the difference between a ‘stressor”and how the person responds to that event. This session is the first in a series of group sessionsthat teach individuals how they can choose to respond to what is happening in their environments.While the activity itself is a stress index scale this principle of “differentiating the event from theexperience of the event” is the key learning point to the session. In latter sessions this principle willbe used to help participants learn how to reframe situations that normally could produce negativeemotions.GoalsAt then end of this exercise participants will be able to:1] Discuss events situations they may encounter and how much stress they associate with thoseevents.2] Compare and contrast their reactions to stressful events with the responses of the other groupmembers.3] Identify factors that influence how an individual may experience an event and explore the“subjectivity” of individual reactions to eventssituations.Materials Needed: 1. Copies of the stress index scale for each group participant. 2. An extra set of copies of the stress index scale for small group experience 3. A flip chart and pad for listing group responsesNote for FacilitatorThe intent of this session is for participants to begin to differentiate between events they encounterand their reactions to those events.  Individuals each completing a stress index scale  Small groups of 4-6 completing a group stress index scale [same scale]  A review of small group scores  A discussion of factors influencing how individuals would react differently to the events listed on the scale  A discussion of the individual’s experience of the event is what influences his reactions.
  • 2. Psychoeducational GroupsDavid BarryStructure:1] Briefly discuss with participants the history of the Holmes Ray Stress Index scale.12] Let participants know they are going to look at 10 potentially stressful items on a sample StressIndex Scale. On the scale they will be asked to distribute 100 points amongst the various itemsbased on how stressful they think that event would be to them. For example for some people“being transferred to another treatment setting” might only be 5 stress points while for others thatevent might be 20 stress points. Give participants 10 minutes to individually distribute a total of 100points between those 10 items.3] After participants have individually rated the events on the “Stress Index Scale” they will beasked to rate the same items as a group. [Small groups of 4-6 work best for this part of theexercise.] The small groups will have 15 minutes to complete the group list.SPECIAL NOTE Participants need to reach a consensus on how much stress the average person might experience if he or she had any of the events identified in the scale happen to them. If the small groups seem to be having problems reaching consensus have them identify the three most stressful events and the three least stressful events. Once this is done they can begin to distribute the values.4] Have a flip chart prepared listing items on the Stress Index Scale with room to the right of theitems to list the small groups weighting of the events. Give the small groups 10, 5 and 1-minutewarnings5] Ask the small groups to report out their results and list results on the flip chart. Ask what factors influenced how they rated the different items. Review how those factors influenced the participants’ reactions to the events. Ask participants, “If the same events do not cause the same stress for everyone…. then what is the main factor determining how an individual experiences stress?”7] Reinforce the concept that it is not the event that causes individuals reactions but how theindividuals experiences that event.Prompt Questions for the Small Group ActivityBefore the actual activity starts list out on chart or board three questions you want participants tothink about during this activity.  What factors influenced how they rated the different items?  How various individual factors influenced the participants’ reactions to the events?  If some of how we experience stress is “subjective” how can we help better manage our stress?Exercise: Stress Index Scale [Individual]1 Holmes and Rayhe developed the Holmes-Rayhe Stress Index Scale while they were workers in a crisisclinic in Boston. After seeing hundreds of individuals in crisis Holmes and Rayhe decided they could quantifydifferent events in terms of levels of stress associated with those events. They listed over 50 different typesof stressors and assigned a numerical value to those events. The numerical value was associated with thelevel of stress that even would have for an individual. Holmes and Rayhe would then interview individualsusing the scale and check the various stressor the incoming client would identify. From the number of itemschecked, Holmes and Rayhe would then total the accumulated stress points and identify if the individual wasexperiencing one of 5 levels of stress.
  • 3. Psychoeducational GroupsDavid BarryIntroduction: There are ten items listed below. You are to distribute 100 points to the total tenitems. The number of points you assign to any one item will represent how much stress that eventwould have for you. For example wining $100,00 in a lottery might only be 2 stress points whilehaving an illness might have 25 stress points. Some of the items might not apply to you, such asGetting Married, still rate the item thinking that if that item could apply to you, how you wouldrespond. You have 10 minutes to complete this task.Stress Points Event Being transferred to another treatment setting Find out your mother is seriously ill Moving to another city 50 miles away A fire destroys your house Become sick for over a month and not know why Getting married You loose your wallet and $250.00 You win $100,00 in the lottery You break your arm in a bicycle accident You or your partner become pregnant
  • 4. Psychoeducational GroupsDavid BarryExercise: Stress Index Scale [Small Group]Introduction: There are ten items listed below. As a group distribute 100 points to the total tenitems. The number of points assigned to any one item will represent how much stress you thinkthat event would have for the average person. For example wining $100,00 in a lottery might onlybe 2 stress points while being sick might have 20 stress points. Some of the items might not applyto you, such as becoming pregnant but rate the item on how you think it could impact on theaverage person. You have 15 minutes to complete this task.Stress Points Event Being transferred to another treatment setting Find out your mother is seriously ill Moving to another city 50 miles away A fire destroys your house Become sick for over a month and not know why Getting married You loose your wallet and $250.00 You win $100,00 in the lottery You break your arm in a bicycle accident You or your partner become pregnant
  • 5. Psychoeducational GroupsDavid BarryReview of ExerciseAfter each set of participants completes the exercise ask them how they felt the exercise went.  What factors influenced how they rated the different items?  How various individual factors influenced the participants’ reactions to the events?  If some of how we experience stress is “subjective” how can we help better manage our stress?