Dojo on stress

Origi­nal post: http://​​bear­​​dojo-on-stress/​​

This (think­ing) dojo came about be­cause some­one de­scribed their biggest prob­lem as stress, re­lat­ing to re­cent job-change events. I ran this dojo in Melbourne and Syd­ney to an au­di­ence of ~10 peo­ple each time. (45mins-1hr long)

As the fa­cil­i­ta­tor:

  1. Say yes. Ac­cept what peo­ple bring. There’s no wrong an­swer. Each per­son is bring­ing the most valuable thing for them­selves to the dis­cus­sion.

  2. There is a need to bal­ance the group time and let ev­ery­one talk if they want to, but gen­er­ally peo­ple are aware of that. If needed, thank some­one and bring their aware­ness to the fact that this is a group event and ev­ery­one needs to par­ti­ci­pate to grow. The ex­er­cise is not about be­ing right but about shar­ing and dis­cussing stress.

  3. Make empty space, (time when noth­ing is said) both for peo­ple to think, and for less talka­tive peo­ple to step up and share. Speak slowly, there is no rush.

  4. There is no need to force par­ti­ci­pa­tion, feel free to men­tion that any­one can pass at any time. It might be healthy to model “pass” be­havi­our at the start by get­ting ev­ery­one to say out loud “pass”. “What do you say if you don’t want to con­tribute and you want to pass?” (“PASS” duh)

1. Share a stress­ful ex­pe­rience.

Each per­son should share a per­sonal or sig­nifi­cant ex­pe­rience of stress that they have en­coun­tered in their life. It doesn’t have to still be “al­ive”, but it has to be per­son­ally rele­vant to them be­ing en­gaged in the dis­cus­sion and get an in­ter­nal sense of what “stress” is and the sorts of things we are talk­ing about. (if do­ing this on your own, write down your ex­pe­rience, spend a few min­utes wait­ing with the mem­o­ries to get a sense of how it felt to be in the body dur­ing that ex­pe­rience, feel free to write more than one down)

(1-2mins per per­son)

Briefly check for a com­mon theme. I.e. stress caused by in­ter­per­sonal re­la­tion­ships or work. Be mind­ful of that when con­tin­u­ing the ex­er­cise.

2. Causes of stress

Stress usu­ally has a cause in life. Each per­son is differ­ent, each per­son will know their own com­mon causes of stress. Make a list of per­sonal and com­mon causes of stress.

(2 mins alone mak­ing a list, 5-10 mins to dis­cuss the gen­eral pos­si­ble causes of stress and build a group list) (if alone, you can google it, but with em­pha­sis that this ex­er­cise is not about get­ting the right an­swer, but more about be­ing aware of the parts of the stress prob­lem and play­ing around with them in mind in one ses­sion.)

2. What are the signs of stress.

How would you know some­one else was stressed? How would you know you were stressed? Make a list as a group dis­cus­sion. There’s a short list at the bot­tom AFTER you have made your own list of the rele­vant signs.

(2 mins by timer by our­selves then 10mins for group dis­cus­sion) (if alone, spend more time mak­ing the list)

Get spe­cific to name a few in­stances if it helps peo­ple par­ti­ci­pate. “This one time I was stressed about X and I kept hav­ing night­mares”. etc.

3. what do you do about stress? How do you re­lieve that stress?

get spe­cific about how to wind down, how to rest, how to re­lax, feel safe, dis­tract, and more. (list at the bot­tom AFTER the ex­er­cise to com­pare notes)

(2 mins by timer by our­selves then 10mins for group dis­cus­sion) (if alone, spend more time mak­ing the list)

Be­ing Strategic

Once we know what causes stress, what stress looks like, and what to do about stress when it comes up, the last thing left to do is to be mind­ful. No­tice the causes, no­tice the signs that come up and act ap­pro­pri­ately. As long as I am aware of my body, my be­havi­our and my ac­tions, I can effec­tively man­age my own stress and the stress of the peo­ple around me.

4. Any­thing else we want to share about stress?

How to tell some­one else they are stressed with­out the words com­ing across like a slap in the face:

  • “I feel like you are stressed”

  • “I no­ticed you keep pac­ing, are you stressed?”

  • (in­stead of, “you are stressed, stop that”)

Share any other per­sonal stress sto­ries or thoughts that come up from the ex­er­cise. If we are done, go to the con­clu­sion. (10 mins)


Reflect on if this is helpful per­son­ally. How can I tie this into my life. How can I no­tice the stress? How can I grow to use this in­for­ma­tion. Con­sider re­mind­ing my­self in a month to check if I still do this. Con­sider how I can plan a “stress check” into my weekly rou­tine. Con­sider how I can make use of this in­for­ma­tion. (3-5mins on our own do­ing what is needed to carry this out) (share any par­tic­u­larly good ones 5 mins)

The fol­low­ing lists are in­com­plete, they are here for clues, feel free to make your own or ig­nore these.

Causes of stress

  • Relationships

  • Work

  • Emotions

  • Food/​diet

  • Exercise

  • Sleep

  • Mis­takes, accidents

  • Emergencies

  • Surprises

  • Ma­jor events or life milestones

  • Big projects

  • Mov­ing house/​city

  • Fam­ily changes

Stress signs

  • Body based sen­sa­tions (tight­ness, sweat, feel­ing heavy, doom, heart rate)

  • be­havi­our changes (pos­ture changes, pac­ing, stay­ing out late, sleep changes)

  • Ex­pres­sions (face stuff, be­havi­our, I know I am con­fused from the con­fu­sion ex­pres­sion)

  • Emo­tions (aaaaah!, Sad, scared, flus­tered, etc)

  • En­ergy (lethargy, over­ac­tive)

  • Ac­tions (eat­ing more, in­jury)

  • dreams…

What do you do about stress?

  • Take a bath

  • Dis­tract myself

  • Leave the room

  • Meditate

  • Play video games

  • Sleep

  • Talk to some­one about it

  • Pam­per myself

  • Let go of try­ing to con­trol ev­ery­thing and make sure it goes well

  • Stop do­ing the thing (some­times an op­tion)

  • Eat something

  • Con­crete checks (have I eaten, drank, slept, got sun­light, spo­ken to friends) (you feel like shit guide)

Thanks for par­ti­ci­pat­ing, feel free to get in touch with feed­back. (google doc for com­ments: https://​​​​doc­u­ment/​​d/​​1tme_NC3tusCXh­wvEz_CaATx9nVp0IN4i-Pf4m0DVA2I/​​edit#

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