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Recognizing that resilience is at the core of readiness, the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations launched Navy’s Operational Stress Control (OSC) Program in 2009. The program describes the sources and effects of stress to promote an understanding of the reactions and behaviors that can result from exposure to severe or prolonged stress.

The OSC program encourages Sailors, families and command leaders to take care of themselves psychologically, physically and emotionally; to look out for one another; and take action when they see themselves or others reacting negatively to stress. It takes a holistic approach to building resilience by using practical tools to identify signs of stress and suggest appropriate actions so people can rebound when they encounter adversity. Core elements of the OSC Program include:

The Stress Continuum
The first step in recognizing stress is having a common language. OSC has adopted this model to help identify stress reactions across a continuum, using the “stress zones” (Ready, Reacting, Injured, and Ill) to guide appropriate responses.

  • Green: Ready. Not stress-free, but mission-ready
  • Yellow: Reacting. Normal responses to stress, but may experience trouble sleeping or increased irritability.
  • Orange: Injured. Recognizing that stress may be more than individual can handle alone and help is needed.
  • Red: Ill. Medical attention is required.

Small Stress Continuum Model

To learn more about the Stress Continuum, check out our Stress Zone Videos: Green, Yellow, Orange, Red.

Stress Continuum infographic for use on social media! Choose from a solid background or snowflake background just in time for the holiday season.

Principles of Resilience and Stress Control
Evidence from research and observations has provided some core considerations to strengthen understanding of resilience and how to navigate stress. These principles are:

  • Predictability: Adverse stress outcomes are less likely when a challenging event is predictable. Realistic training and drills, consistent leadership, routines and clear communication all contribute to predictability.
  • Controllability: A sense that we have some control over unfolding events comes from training and experience. Often, the event itself may not be in our control, but our response to the event--to include problem solving actions or navigating our own stress reactions (e.g., controlled breathing)--can prove helpful.
  • Relationships: With strong relationships, individuals and groups can thrive despite profound challenges. When important relationships fall apart, this can be stressful and can impact resilience. Actions to foster, develop, preserve and repair supportive relationships should always be a consideration in stress control.
  • Trust: Trust plays a critical role in withstanding adversity and extends beyond individual relationships. Trust is built through experience and includes certain expectations. Loss of trust will erode stress control efforts and increase risk of psychological difficulties.
  • Meaning: People fare better when they know why they are doing what they do – why the mission is important, how their duties fi t into the picture, why their family makes certain sacrifices. A consistent aspect of recovery from traumatic events involves establishing meaning regarding the event and the changes in the person’s life.

For more information, see the Principles of Resilience and Stress Control fact sheet. Check out our Principles of Resilience Infographics here.

Five Core Leader Functions
Leadership is essential for Operational Stress Control success. OSC has developed five core leadership functions that, if given daily hands-on attention, will demonstrate a leader's commitment to making a difference in the lives of Sailors, their families and overall command health. Leaders at all levels must take measures to prevent and reduce operational stressors that impact mission readiness and force preservation. The following core leadership functions can help build resilient individuals and commands:

  • Strengthen your Sailors, their families and your command. This can be achieved through training, social cohesion, and effective leadership. [video]
  • Mitigate and lessen the effect of stressors by balancing priorities. While some stress is good, resilience is built through sleep, rest, recreation and spiritual renewal. [video]
  • Identify Sailors with stress reactions early, before they become crises. Leaders must know their people, be able to recognize what stress zone they are in, and intervene. [video]
  • Treat and coordinate care. Ensure Sailors with a stress injury or illness get the help they need. [video]
  • Reintegrate back into the unit. Sailors that have received treatment for stress-related injuries or illnesses need to be effectively reintegrated back into their commands. [video]

5 Core Leader Functions

For more information, see the 5 Core Leader Functions fact sheet.

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