Posts Tagged ‘relaxation’

This last game in the unit on mindfulness and stress (see Part I and Part II) is a fun way to cap off the topic while also giving students a chance to consolidate some of what they have learned.  This is more of a traditional improv game, where a few participants have the chance to perform in front of the rest of the group.

Instructions:

  • Set up two chairs in front of the group.
  • Two volunteers come up. One will be the therapist, and the other will be the client.
  • The therapist can sit down in the one chair while the client can walk “off-stage,” so that he/she can walk into the therapist’s “office” at the start of the scene.
  • The client will come in concerned about all the stress in her/his life, while (for the sake of this game) the therapist will give them some advice about dealing with it.
  • The one catch is that everything shared by both the client and the therapist must be sung (in whatever ways the performers feel like doing. Rapping works too).
  • Let this round go for a minute or two (gauging how the participants are doing and how it’s being received by the “audience”).
  • Then you can have more rounds with different volunteers, as you see fit.

Instruction Notes:

  • I like to play one (or both) of the roles in the first round (or two), to model ways of performing for other participants. I also make a point of bringing a lot of energy and zaniness to my performances, to try to break through any potential awkwardness as participants warm up to their roles.  Depending on your own comfort level, you need not do this.
  • If you took notes (e.g. on a whiteboard or easel) of ways of dealing with stress that came up in previous activities, you can have these out for participants to draw from in their therapist roles. You can also brainstorm these before the activity.

Application Notes:

  • Have the group recap advice given by the “therapists.” Then use that advice as the basis of a closing discussion on different ways of dealing with stress.
  • Whether or not you use this activity to close out a unit on working with stress, at the end of any such unit it might be helpful for participants to write down ONE technique that they intend to put into practice. That way they have a clear and concrete foothold in the material, since having too many techniques floating around in one’s head can be overwhelming.
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The second stage in the unit on mindfulness and stress is an amazingly adaptable activity that I refer to as “Body Sculpting.”  I’ve used this handy game as a way of experientially tackling a wide range of topics, and I’ll give some ideas for doing so in the Application Notes below.

Instructions:

  • Participants get into groups of two.
  • They select one person to be “Person A” and the other to be “Person B”, with the note that both people will do the same thing at different times.
  • Let everyone know that Person A is the sculptor and Person B is the sculpture.
    • Person A’s job is to gently (and appropriately) move Person B’s body into a position that conveys what Person A is trying to represent (instructions on that later).
    • Person B’s job is to be as receptive as possible to Person A’s guidance and to then hold whatever positions Person A leaves them in (within reason).
  • Instruct all the sculptors that they are going to sculpt their partners into a statue that exhibits STRESS.
  • Let the first round of sculpting begin, lasting for about a minute or so.
  • When the sculpting is done, I like to have all the sculptures freeze in place while the sculptors crouch down, allowing a good view of our “Stressed Out Sculpture Garden.” Encourage the sculptors to briefly look around the room and check out other sculptures.  You can even have sculptors share about what they were going for with their sculptures and why.
  • Next, have the sculptors “de-stress” the sculptures by shifting their partners from a stressed position to a relaxed position.
  • Repeat the previous steps, with Person B now doing the sculpting (and de-stressing) and Person A being the sculpture.
  • Possible add-on:
    • Have everyone in the room assume a position that shows how stress manifests in their own
    • Everyone holds that position while you guide them to mindfully explore how it feels (physically, emotionally, and mentally).
    • Then have everyone de-stress themselves, assuming a relaxed position.
    • Again guide them to explore how it feels and how it differs from the stressed position.

Instruction Notes:

  • While sculpting, I like to encourage the sculptor to avoid the following:
    • Giving any verbal instructions (so the whole activity is done in silence)
    • Showing the sculpture how to stand with the sculptor’s own body
  • Near the end of their sculpting session, I give everyone a 10 second warning while also reminding sculptors to add facial expressions to their sculptures.

Application Notes:

  • After the activity, you can unpack the exercise and have people share about the different physical manifestations of stress and relaxation they observed. Encourage them to note differences between how the stressful/relaxed positions created by their partners differed from the ones they created themselves (in the add-on exercise).
  • For an even more hands-on approach, you can give participants a piece of paper with an outline of a human body on it, and they can write/draw on that body the places that stress manifests for them.
  • Regarding mindfulness, you can discuss how learning the way stress shows up in our own bodies gives us important information. When combined with mindfulness, we have much more of a chance of catching early physical manifestations of stress and addressing them (de-stressing, assuming relaxed positions, other antidotes) before the stress becomes full-blown and difficult to manage.
  • Other applications of this activity:
    • I’ve used “Body Sculpting” to address a myriad of topics, ranging from gratitude (sculpt a grateful position) and peace (sculpt a peaceful position), to memories (sculpt a specific type of memory) and insight (sculpt a portrayal of a sudden burst of insight—an “aha moment”).

So you’ve probably played this one before—something of a hybrid between the Telephone Game and Pictionary.  It’s not exactly a drama game, but it’s a fun and creative way to open up a topic, which in this case is relaxation. As with any of these games, I’m presenting it the way I’ve used it. You may think of a different (or better) way to apply it to mindfulness education (in which case we’d love to hear about it in the comments section).

Instructions:

  • Everyone starts with a piece of paper and a pen or pencil, sitting in a circle.
  • Have each participant fold the piece of paper such that there are 6 horizontal sections.
  • In the top section, each participant writes down a way that they like to relax.
  • Everyone then passes their paper to the person on their left.
  • Having received a new piece of paper, the participants read about the relaxation technique of their neighbor. Then, in the second horizontal section on the paper, they draw a quick (30 seconds) sketch that portrays their neighbor’s written technique. Finally, they fold the top section backwards so that it is no longer visible when looking at the front of the page. With their drawings now at the top of the page, they pass the paper to the people on their left.
  • In the horizontal section under the drawing they just received, participants write a sentence that attempts to portray what the drawing shows. Having done so, they fold the drawing back so that their sentence is at the top of the page and the previous sentence and drawing are no longer visible. They then pass the sheet to the person on their left.
  • This continues, with sentences and pictures alternating, until the last horizontal section has been drawn in and the sheet has been passed one more time to the left.
  • Participants can each take turns describing to the group what they think the drawing portrays on the sheet they’re currently holding. Having done so, they then unfold the sheet and read out loud the first sentence that was written on it.
  • The result is usually that there’s been a significant (and often humorous) drift from the original sentence to the final spoken one. After participants have shared, it’s fun to pass the sheets around in an informal way for people to take a look at how the drift happened.

Application Notes:

  • Whereas some games are good for digging into the content at hand, this one is more about simply introducing a topic (relaxation) in a fun way so as to create a positive association with the material, change up the modalities of instruction, and break the ice between participants.
  • That said, one outcome of the game is that participants have shared relaxation techniques that they use, empowering them to realize that they already have experience and expertise when it comes to working with their own minds and feelings.
  • Another outcome is that the group now has a bank of relaxation techniques that, if fitting for the class, can be explored together.