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Oiling the Tin Man’s Armor and Healing His Heart IV: Finding Support and Guidance

39 min read

Managing the Stress

Stress will inevitably accompany VUCA-Plus challenges and changes in life and work. Our Wizard of Oz characters certainly experienced their own moments of stress. Actually, they experienced many moments of stress – ranging from an attack by the Winged Monkeys to finding a lack of support from the fraudulent Wizard. If, like the characters of Oz, we encounter many stress-full challenges over time then we are likely to establish “stress ruts.”

We are exposed repeatedly to threats—however, unlike the zebra living on the savannah of Africa, we not only respond to the threat of “real lions” (such as threatened attack by another person or the potential of job loss), but also the threat of “imagined lions” (such as feeling insulted by an email we have received or imagining the potential impact of a revenue shortfall in our organization) (Sapolsky, 2004). These ruts are grooved deeper with each stressful event and lead to permanent structural changes in our nervous/hormonal systems. We become increasingly vulnerable (“trigger happy”) to stress. Below are five tactics that help to reduce stress.


Stress can be reduced in when the following behaviors are engaged:

  1. Avoid the stressful situation in the future.
  2. Participate in activities that reduce stress once it has occurred, like practicing mindfulness, centering and slower, even breathing.
  3. Identify “sanctuaries”: settings and times when and where one can relax and “re-create” (allowing the body to recover from the stress and resulting physiological impact).
  4. Obtain a good night sleep (restorative stages of sleep take place only under conditions of deep and sustained relaxation).
  5. Avoid excessive use of substances (including alcohol) that may temporarily elevate mood but can soon lead to depression.

An appreciative approach can be engaged as we identify ways in which, times during which, and places in which we are already operating in a manner that is aligned with these five tactics.

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