- coping with stress
- combat stress
- preparing for deployment
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Managing Stress in the Civilian Workplace
Joining the civilian workforce following your military career can be both an exciting and stressful time. The culture and operations of a civilian workplace may differ from what you experienced during your military career. Be patient as you adjust to your new position, work environment and co-workers.
Common Workplace Stressors
1. Feeling Disconnected
When you work with people who have never been in the military, you may feel disconnected or that you don’t have anything in common with your co-workers. You may also miss the strong bond of your unit.
- Take time to get to know your co-workers. Go to work-related events or organize a social, community service, or networking activity.
- Stay connected to the military by volunteering to support active-duty service members or other veterans. You can start with these military associations.
You may have a hard time finding meaning in your work. For example, assignments in the civilian workplace can seem insignificant compared to the urgency of combat or the importance of day-to-day military operations.
- Learn background information about why your company was started. Find out how you contribute to the overall mission.
- Look for roles that are in line with your personal goals and will give you a sense of purpose. Use the leadership skills that you learned in the military to help shape the future direction of your team or organization.
3. Over-Use of Survival Tactics
Survival strategies such as heightened awareness and a need for constant control may have helped keep you safe during a deployment. However, these battlefield skills could negatively impact you in the work place. You may find yourself feeling on-edge or distracted by harmless noises and movements.
- Be open to letting your guard down and recognize that you are in a safe place.
- Share your feelings with those you trust. They may be able to help you work through feelings of anxiety.
Strategies to Reduce the Effects of Stress
Learning to maintain control during stressful situations can allow you to be at your best while on the job. Here are some strategies to try on your own:
- Set measurable goals that match your personal values
- Develop a support network
- Replace negative thoughts with positive thinking
- Focus on finishing one task at a time
- Go outside and take a breath of fresh air
- Relax by doing 5-10 minutes of meditation or slow, deep breathing
- Try to get seven or eight hours of sleep each night
- Exercise regularly
Resources for Seeking Care
The DCoE Outreach Center
Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury
- Log on to Real Warriors Live Chat or call 866-966-1020 to speak confidentially with a trained health resource consultant 24/7 for resources on managing stress and transitioning into a civilian career.
Recovery and Employment Assistance Lifelines (REALifelines)
Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training Service
- Find contact information for one-on-one employment assistance
- Access online resources that assist veterans in their reintegration into the civilian workforce
Vet Centers Readjustment Counseling Service
Department of Veterans Affairs
- Get community-based readjustment support for you and your family
- Learn more about Vet Center services from the campaign article, “Vet Centers Provide Reintegration Support for Warriors”
- Outlines three common workplace stressors
- Offers tips and resources for managing stress