Bay Area Discovery Museum

restorative practices for transforming stress in the workplace

September 18, 2019

(slide deck from presentation)

setting the context

As we start to think about dealing with work stress differently, there’s a bigger conversation about why, for most modern people, stress has become a baseline. Evolutionarily, the stress response is designed to be an aberration, turning on in moments of threat to keep us alive. Wellbeing happens when our baseline is in connection and relaxation. Modern life has shifted this baseline towards stress, so many of us experience a stressed state as normal. In order to get ‘not stressed’, its important to get clear about what the stress response is, what is driving it, and how to stabilize ourselves in a baseline of connection and relaxation. We need to understand not just intellectually, but viscerally (in the body), how this feels because many of us are accustomed to operating in a baseline of stress.

The first 15 minutes of this film examines how things got to be this way in the modern world, and begins to look at the things our systems require in order to stay grounded in connection and relaxation. The second part of the film (30 minutes) is a deep dive into stress physiology that helps us understand why the stress response just happens, but connection and relaxation have to be cultivated.


In our workshop next week, we’ll focus primarily on experiential learning, skill-building, and dialog. The film will give us a shared baseline and theoretical language to begin thinking together about some of these topics. Please note: This is a big conversation, so our objective is to begin exploring it in new and useful ways. It is a process.

questions for reflection

As you watch the film, think about how it applies to your work at the museum. We invite you to reflect on these things as you are watching:

  • What are some of your own connection strengths? To whom, or what, do you feel most connected- both at work, and in life generally?

  • When you do get stressed out, or pulled out of balance, do you tend to get angry and confrontational, anxious and fearful, or overwhelmed and paralyzed? Or something else?

  • How do you know internally- either in your body, your emotions, or your thoughts- that you are getting pulled out of balance at work?

  • When you are out of balance at work, what are effective ways you’ve found to address this?

  • As you watch and think about the film, what would you like to know more about/ understand more deeply?

  • How can you apply what you are watching to your work at BADM?

NB: There is an error in the film that our post-production team hasn’t yet fixed. During the first 15 minutes, I say twice that the long arc of human evolutionary history is 30 million years. This is not correct. The human genus has been around 2 million years.

If there's a situation at work, or an experience, or something that you are engaged by or feel that we could help with, what would that be? These are anonymous.

Thanks in advance for your time and attention. We are looking forward to working with you on the 18th!