Skills Converged Training Resources

Stress Management: Glass of Water

Stress Management: Glass of Water


In this exercise, delegates explore the implications of stress and how it affects their workflow. In 1936, Hans Selye carried out extensive research on stress. He found that the body goes through 3 stages during distress:

  • The body is alarmed
  • The body’s resistance is increased
  • The duration of the distress causes exhaustion.

These three stages are present in any stressful activity. If we want to get over our stress and reduce its impact, it is ideal to know which one of these is causing most of the problem so we can take steps to improve it.

This exercise uses a simple example to demonstrate the three phases.


Use a glass of water at arm’s length and observe your behaviour.

What You Need

  • A glass of water for each delegate.


  • Ask each delegate to pick up their glass and hold it at their arm’s length.
  • After about 2 or 3 minutes people start to experience the stress on all categories.
  • Ask them to observe their own stress and think which category is the strongest.
  • Some people like to boast about the fact that they are under stress. A bit of stress is good (which is known as eustress) and it focuses the mind. However, beyond a certain point, stress works against an individual’s productivity. The categories of being alarmed, resistance and exhaustion all apply to workplace stress as well.
  • Ask the delegates to provide an example from their workplace when they were stressed and compare that with their own experience when holding the water. What are the similarities? Was their workplace stress caused by exhaustion, body resistance or was it simply an alarmed state?
  • Run this exercise informally and encourage discussions.


Explaining the Test: 5 minutes.

Activity: 15 minutes

Group Feedback: 10 minutes.


What did you learn in this exercise? How can you manage stress? What do think of eustress versus stress?