Step 2: Stress: experience and perception

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(25 min)

Trainer notes

Give participants time to read the simple explanation in Handout 3.1: Fight or flight, the definitions of stress and examples on slide 4. Invite them to discuss, with a person they are comfortable sharing with, how they define stress and one example where their fight or flight instinct took over.

Highlight the fact that the stress response occurs whether the stressor is real or imagined. The purpose of this discussion is to normalise the issue of stress and to help all participants recognise that everyone experiences stress.

Talk through slide 5 on the perceptions of stress, and how reactions can impact on your ability to respond.

Distribute Handout 2.4: ‘Good luck, bad luck?’. Invite participants to contemplate their perceptions of enforced change.

Play the fun multitasking game! Put participants into groups of four in a + formation.

  • Player one is the respondent. He or she must mirror the actions of player three and answer the alternating questions from players two and four.
  • Player three makes fun big gestures, stretching, jumping, waving, etc.
  • Player two asks simple maths questions: 1+1, 6 x 6, 20 – 10.
  • Player four asks personal questions: ‘Are you married?’, ‘What size feet do you have?’, ‘Where did you go on holiday?’

The respondent has one minute in the hot spot. He or she must respond as fast and as accurately as possible. Player three must keep moving, players two and four must fire the questions as fast as possible but still giving player one a chance to answer. After one minute everyone moves clockwise one position.

After four turns every participant will have experienced being the respondent, the mirror, the mathematician and the inquisitor. Sound a very loud buzzer or hooter at the end of each minute to signal the end of each one minute round. Move the groups on immediately to the next respondent. Keep the activity tight and fast paced. The energy of urgency is the key. Positively encourage each team.

Give a demonstration with four SLT members. It is meant to be an impossible task. It serves to highlight the challenge of multitasking and the negative effects of time pressure and multi-layered demands.

Ask participants what they learned. Give time for feedback.